Saturday, November 12, 2011

From jumping beans to a three-legged cow. It's the Dollar Store Toy Review!

This time around, it's a DOUBLE Toy Review; Mr F and Mr Bunches made a haul on the last trip through the Dollar Store, so today you'll have double your pleasure, double your fun, and I'll have double the lawsuits from jingle writers who don't like to be plagiarized.

The ToyS: The Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray and the Ginormous Toothbrush.

The rules for this trip to the Dollar Store were "You each get two things." The total at the Dollar Store was $13.65, counting tax, so you can see that my rules are more like guidelines, and, Mr F and Mr Bunches are especially adept at ignoring guidelines.

But of those thirteen things, the highlights of our purchases were definitely these two items, each of which were chosen specially by one twin, Mr Bunches picking out the Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray, while Mr F was so enamored of the Ginormous Toothbrush that he carried it with him through the whole store (which did not in any way slow him down from also getting a Pez Dispenser, a golf club, and a dustpan with associated dustbroom, that last one involving something of a longer story.)

The longer story about that dustpan is that Mr F's thing these days is tapping. He likes to tap things on other things, and while he is very serious about the tapping sometimes-- stopping to tap say, a spatula on a light post and then tap it on a railing and then go back to the light post to compare -- he also is somewhat casual about tapping at other times, as right now when he is swinging and tapping two spoons together without paying much attention to them.

Mr F has a whole collection of tappers. This is that collection:

The timer in the corner is to time how long he gets to tap when he's supposed to be learning. The rest of those things are tappers, and Mr F will choose among them like a surgeon choosing among scalpels, but only if the surgeon in question were to run over to the table full of scalpels and begin rooting through them as fast as he can, sometimes throwing them onto the ground, before grabbing two or three different scalpels and then running off while the surgeon's dad chases him and says "Hey! Pick up! Pick up!"

So, not much like a surgeon at all, but you can't take a simile back. Once they're out there, they belong to the multiverse.

As you can see from the bin, Mr F has two dust-broom tappers, both purchased at the Dollar Store, both at different times. He decided on those particular tappers by testing them, there in the aisle at the Dollar Store, as Mr Bunches and I waited more-or-less-patiently: Mr F picking up one broom after another (there is a surprising variety of dust brooms available for a dollar) and tapping them on the floor, the cart, and the shelf before deciding on that brand, which luckily/economically comes with a dustpan, so Sweetie and I have several extra dustpans in our utility closet, where we also have a broom, a mop, and, for some reason, a four-foot-long white pole that maybe is a handle to some broom-like or mop-like device but which no longer has anything on either end, it's just a pole, and so it really shouldn't be in the utility closet at all but I can't throw it away because when I think about throwing it away, I realize that it won't fit into our kitchen garbage cans entirely, but would stick out of the top, which means I would then have to take the kitchen garbage out to the garage, which is a lot of work compared to it being zero work to just leave the handle-pole there, so there it stays.

Back to the toys!

The Construction: First, the Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray, which is not, in real life, upside-down as it is in this picture

but I have to go by thumbnails when I upload these, thumbnails I can barely make out even with squinting and leaning really close to the laptop, and I'm seriously worried that my eyesight is shot and I might have to get glasses, and I haven't worn glasses in 15 years since an eye doctor told me that glasses or not, my lazy eye wasn't getting any better, so I threw out my glasses and haven't looked back since then. So the upshot of that is you get an upside down picture because I thought in the thumbnail that it was right-side up. You'll have to use your imagination, or stand on your head. Or do both and feel like a seven-year-old again. You could use a little fun in your life.

The Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray is made of plastic, as all good God-fearing toys ought to be. Plastic is the Chicken McNugget of the toy world: Processed heavily enough that I am willing to use/eat it. (Note: I do not eat plastic, unless those little "Gummi" things that they make are actually plastic. Mr Bunches buys those and makes me eat them.)

As I get older (see foregoing discussion of eyesight) I am more and more reluctant to have any connection with nature, especially because nature keeps being so gross, as when, recently, my in-laws proposed to serve a mutant cow at my parent-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary next year, a conversation which went like this between Sweetie and me:

Me: So how much will our share of catering cost us?

Sweetie: Joni*

*Not her real name. Unless it is. Did you ever think how great it would be to throw people off by saying "Barack Obama [not his real name] actually gave a wedgie to a member of Congress late one night to help the debt deal pass, but Barack, as we're calling him, didn't want to be identified for fear that he would be asked to do this repeatedly, because really that's what Congress deserves," and nobody would ever think "Hey, I bet that really was Barack Obama," because we'd be thrown off by the whole not his real name thing? It's like the purloined letter, only with names and no letters at all. So, not very like the purloined letter at all.**

**Did you, like me, just think "You know what would be even awesome-r? Just calling every person who doesn't want to be identified "Barack Obama." I'm really on to something here. And also sleep-deprived. It's been a long week.


Sweetie: ... Barack Obama says she and Charlie will use their cow.

Me: [puzzled, because I have been at the in-laws' house and have not seen a cow, what with their house being in a subdivision.] They have a cow?

Sweetie: [as though I should have known this]: They got a cow from Charlie's mom. That's their meat for the year.***


They are not pioneers. They do not have a Conestoga Wagon.

That, I feel, is an important aspect to this story.

Because, you see, people who live in a modern world would not ordinarily be expected to have a ... cow... as their ... meat for the year. Who has meat for a year? I don't understand any of this. When you need meat, you go to McDonald's and have them hand it to you in a paper wrapper. My meat for the year is kept a mile away at a drive-thru.

Back to our story:

Me: ...
Sweetie [after a long silence]: They eat it.

Me: I think that your mom would not necessarily want us killing a cow and roasting it over a fire at her 50th anniversary party. That is not in keeping with her wanting it to be fancy.

Sweetie: The cow has only three legs.

And that was it. I do not want to eat an animal that for whatever reason had only three legs, even if, as Sweetie later claimed, the cow lost the fourth leg because it froze off. For a variety of reasons, and I am adamant about this, I will only eat things that have the proper number of legs, which is always "two" or "four." Nothing with an odd number of legs, or more legs than four, should ever be eaten.

Which is only part of my objection to eating a three-legged cow (which, for all I know, was some sort of mutant cow that would cause me to become a mutant, too, and not a good mutant, but one of those ones that people shoot on sight, and yes, I know that I ate a mummified Twinkie but I'm getting to why that is acceptable and eating pieces off a three-legged cow is not), the other part of the objection being that cows are gross, as all of nature is, and if you just take a gross cow from its gross cow pasture and kill it and skin it (you have to skin it, right? I assume you do, because I've never heard anyone say "Give me a steak, with the extra-crispy skin") and then boil it or whatever it is you do to gross mutant cows, then all that gross stuff -- grass, manure, feed, bits of cow, probably a horn or something-- is still in the cow, and you're eating it, probably on a some sort of fancy rye bread because it's a party and you want to mingle...

...whereas, if you take that cow and ship it to a factory in Taiwan and grind it into cow-dust, which is what they do, I'm sure, and then send it through three or four zillion different processes, zapping it with radiation and treating it with high fructose corn syrup and gluten, and puffing it up and rolling it out only to puff it up again and then ultimately shape it into a "burger," deserving of those quotes, I can rest assured that all the nature, in all its grossness, has been factoried out of it and I will in no way be eating anything that touched a cow's lips.

Which all makes sense if you don't think about it at all.

And that is my long-winded explanation of why I like plastic for toys, because if you make toys out of wood or cloth or whatever nature has available, you've got a toy that will give splinters and maybe has some sort of pesticides on it or which makes you look like a hippie but not in the good occupy this or that way, just in the I wear half-moon glasses with weird tints and haven't washed my hair in some time kind of way that I find annoying.

So: The Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray is made of plastic, and consists of that branching, dowsing-rod kind of shape, and is not immediately self-explanatory, which is why there are directions on the back of it

in case you are sufficiently unimaginative that you cannot think up your own crazee tricks. The toy also comes with the Crazee beans themselves. They look like this:

And are, in fact, wooden, which violates my rule but I won't get into that again. The beans are hollow, like little Russian Nesting Dolls (only crazee-er, as you can see from that photo) and have some sort of item inside them that rolls back and forth.

The Ginormous Toothbrush,

similarly, is made of plastic, too, (*whew*). It does not have real bristles,

so if you actually have ginormous teeth, you are out of luck. It also has no instructions, so you are presumed capable of coming up with your own fun and inventive things to do with a giant simulacrum of a toothbrush.

How It's Used: The Crazee, etc. beans (you only get one, and I don't know if each one is different; if each bean is not different, the makers definitely missed out on starting a craze and urging kids to collect 'em all after which they would deliberately make, say, one of a certain kind and create a gold rush-type hysteria) are intended to be put into the start of the dowsing rod, and then crazee-ly rolled/flipped/hassled down to the other end, with, apparently, some sort of skill involved in determining which side you end up on.

The toy can, if you are a terrible parent, be enjoyed still in the package:

But for best results in both playing and parenting, let's just pretend that you're willing to go the extra mile, as I did, and open the package. In fact, if you want to be a really good parent, you will open the package in the car, something I always insist on doing because who wants to wait until they get home to play with their new toys? Not me, no matter how often my mom said that was better because I wouldn't lose parts. So I always open the package in the car, and the only reason I didn't this time was because the Crazee, etc. and the Ginormous Toothbrush were not what Mr Bunches and Mr F wanted open in the car. (They went with "ceramic house" and "dust-broom," respectively.)

Once you have your Beans open, it works (or doesn't work) a lot like this:

We did not amaze our friends, or anyone else for that matter. But you have to understand, we have no formal training. There are probably kids somewhere you can work that y-shaped toy like magic, and if you doubt me on that, consider that cup-stacking is an Olympic event, practically.

The Ginormous Toothbrush turns out to be much simpler to operate:

Not once did Mr F actually pretend to ginormously brush his teeth. He just looked it, tapped it, and then looked at it some more. He was clearly auditioning it for a role in the collection of tappers.

It did not qualify; within minutes of tapping, the Ginormous Toothbrush broke, with the fake-bristle part starting to crack off:

(not pictured)

I didn't actually get a picture of that before throwing it away, so you'll have to use your imagination. (You're not still standing on your head, are you?)

The Review By Mr F and Mr Bunches: Mr F, upon realizing the Ginormous Toothbrush had cracked, tossed it on the ground, and after a while of me chasing him around saying "Pick up, pick up, pick up" I finally gave in and picked it up and threw it out, which Mr F used as a diversion, taking that moment to grab some silverware forks from the drawer and trying to tap with those. Forks are the Holy Grail of tappers for Mr F, because they make interesting sounds and because we won't let him use that because forks are sharp and even I have minimum standards of parenting.

Mr Bunches, on the other hand, tried the Crazee, etc., for a minute or two, then asked me to show him how it was done, then got bored and dropped the bean on the floor and opted instead to play with his ceramic houses. They are actually pretty exciting: They walk around and attack things, which you understand if you have seen Monster House 57 times, as Mr Bunches has.

Final Grade: Ginormous Toothbrush: F. Crazee Jumpin' Beans Tumble Tray: D-, but only because I saved the bean and intend to hold onto it until it is super valuable someday and I can sell it on eBay and retire. Ceramic Houses: Suprisingly fun.

Note: I realized today that in my Xtreme Super Racer review, I finished with an incomplete thought. I would now finish that thought, but, honestly, I have no idea what I was thinking, which really ought not to surprise you at all.


Michael Offutt said...

With a thought-provoking review like this, how could I possibly avoid a dollar store today? It will make it hard sir! You are a true taskmaster! You should post this review on Amazon so that people can mark it as "helpful" and then you get invited to the Amazon Vine and get free stuff. Blame Rogue for mentioning the "vine" to me in my post yesterday. I researched it and it sounds like quite the hookup for freebies. And btw...tweeting this comment as "the comment of the day" may be true but it is the only "comment of the day". /hugs :P

Briane P said...

Not now, it's not.

Middle said...

That was the toy...?

anna. said...

i hope charlie works in a chocolate factory.

...just saying.