Monday, July 16, 2012

It would be different if it were VIDEO PADDLE BALL BOLO VS. ZOMBIES, I think. (Dollar Store Toy Review)

The Toy: A PaddleBall Bolo.

(Although to be honest, I am not sure if it is a "Paddleball" and "Bolo" is its name in another language, or if the full correct name of the toy is "Paddleball Bolo.")

(It might also be Paddle Ball Bolo, three words, as opposed to two.)

(There is no international standard, I guess, for naming Dollar Store Toys.)

It's been a long time since we went to the Dollar Store, the result of Mr Bunches having developed more expensive tastes in his retail habits; these days, when I try to convince him to go to the Dollar Store because (A) It is probably my favorite store in the world and (B) it's cheap, he is more apt to say "I think Target," which is his new favorite place in the world.

But we did go to the Dollar Store, Saturday night, after having the boys' pictures taken for our Christmas card, and don't ask me why we have that done in July because if you do, I'm liable to say "Go ask Sweetie why we have it done in July," only trust me I have tried that and what you get from Sweetie is something like "Because I want to," which is, I suppose, a reason but it's not (if you ask me) a good reason.

Since it is not necessary to have a good reason to get your boys' pictures taken in July for a Christmas card, we went to the mall Saturday to have the boys' pictures taken, a process that takes several hours and that is no lie.

The pictures themselves took only minutes: we were in the little room about 15 minutes, during which the boys sat on the ground, stood on a fake staircase, posed next to a number "6" because they're going to be six in two months, and sat on a stool, but they refused to lie on their stomachs which is probably for the best as I don't think that would have looked so good.

With that, my and the boys' involvement in the picture process ended, and we made our way down the mall to the playground that is in the mall, the one that's made of giant polyurethane appliances and is sponsored by our local electric company.  Here is Mr F, in his pictures' outfit, reclining on a giant light switch.

The light switch is in the off position because we are learning, subliminally, to save electricity, which is kind of a dumb thing for a power company to teach us, don't you think?  Do any other companies actively try to dissuade you from using their products?  No, they don't.  If I were in charge of a power company, I would come up with a character to encourage people to use more power: 

Scene: A kid is sitting at his desk, squinting at a piece of paper and frowning.  Finally, he sighs in frustration and throws his pencil across the room.  From the light socket comes a little animated spark of electricity that grows in size until it is alarmingly like a ball of lightning.

"Who are you?" the kid asks.

"I'm Sparks! The friendly electricity!" Sparks says.  "Why so glum, chum?" he goes on because talking like an Archies' character is a good way to relate to kids.

"I can't figure out my homework," says the kid.

"Let's see if I can't help!" Sparks says, and heads over to the desk, where he punches some buttons on the calculator and frowns.  "This doesn't seem to be working!" he says.

"It's solar-powered," the kid says.  "You have to hold it by the window."

Sparks feigns shock and says "We'll see about that!" and he draws a quick outline in the air that turns into a supercomputer hooked into the wall by at least fourteen extension cords.  "You can't do math with SOLAR POWER," he says, and then tries to turn on the light, which dimly lights up only a portion of the desk.  "Hmmm..." says Sparks.  "Is that one of those fluorescent things?" he asks, making fluorescent sound a lot like the word pornographic somehow.

Soon, Sparks and the kid are in a well-lit lab powered by vast dynamos of energy, and the kid is curing cancer or something...

You get the drift.    After we had the pictures taken, we played at the playground for about 1 1/2 hours while Sweetie picked out which pictures, in which outrageously expensive combinations, she wanted, and by then me and the boys were bored at the playground and I tried to get them to go over to the Food Court so we could get a bite to eat, but Mr Bunches came across a little stand in the mall that was selling toys, including a racetrack that had cars going around and around, and HE. LOVED. THAT. RACETRACK.

But I had already gotten Mr Bunches a toy on this trip, a tiny replica of Air Force One that he'd picked out at the fancy toy store down by Sears, and the Racetrack was like $30 and so I had to decline to get him that because THERE ARE LIMITS, YOU KNOW, even if Mr Bunches almost never hits them, but he fought back by lying on the floor and making his sad face, and although he doesn't know it he was about 0.00001 seconds from getting the racetrack anyway when I thought of a possible outcome:

"Want to go to the Dollar Store?" I asked him, and although he did not stop being sad he did get up off the floor and deign to ride on my shoulders to get some french fries while we waited for Sweetie, and after Sweetie met up with us and after I pointedly did not ask her how much the pictures were costing us, we were headed out of the mall and Mr Bunches remembered that we were going to the Dollar Store, where, he announced, he was going to get a "Captain Hook", which is the little pirate playset they used to have there; he's bought like ten of those. (Well, two. Maybe three.)

Once there, though, they did not have a "Captain Hook," even though we went up and down the aisle three times, and Mr Bunches was on the verge of being sad again until I saw a Paddle Ball Bolo and said:

"Hey, do you want a Paddle Ball?"

And he said:

"Oh, sure, Paddle Ball," and we got that.

(We also got a helium balloon for each boy, because they were selling balloons.  Mr F got a red star, and Mr Bunches selected on wishing someone a "Happy Birthday.")

The Construction:

The Paddle Ball Bolo is made up of a plastic paddle, and a ball that does light up about 1 out of 10 times that you would think it should light up, and an elastic band connecting the two.

It is a tough paddle, and a tough elastic band, as demonstrated by the fact that Mr F likes the paddle but not the ball, and he has been unable to separate the two.

How It's Used:  You try to hit the paddle with the ball, or vice versa.  Once you get going, it really makes no difference what order you think you're doing it in. 

How It Works:

This is harder than I remembered it being, and results in mostly the ball and paddle not really occupying the same space all that much, and, when I do it, mostly ends up with me ducking the ball as it flies around, so that I am usually moving in the opposite direction of the paddle and (I hope) the ball.

Mr Bunches is better at it: he aims the ball down and tries to hit it when it bounces off the floor.

Mr F doesn't bother trying.  He just plays with the paddle and lets the ball do what it wants.

But with that, I have to say: The Paddle Ball Bolo works just fine.  If you manage to hit the ball, it will rebound off the paddle.  The paddle swings.  The elastic stretches.  Any flaws in the  operation of the Paddle Ball Bolo are likely to be user error.

The Review By Mr F and Mr Bunches:

By the time we'd gotten home, Mr Bunches was already forgetting about the Paddle Ball Bolo, in favor of his balloon, a giant plastic red crayon he'd gotten, and the movie Despicable Me, which he'd already had but which he wanted to watch, so he ignored Paddle Ball Bolo overnight.

On Sunday morning, we opened it and he played it for about five minutes before going to watch Youtube.

Mr F likes to hold onto the paddle and swing in his swing, leaving the ball winging around.

Final Grade: C.   It's probably a little too advanced for Mr F's or Mr Bunches' skills, so that indication on the label that it's okay for "3+" might be saying a bit much.  Granted, I am not the most dexterous of people but I have to think I'm a little better at stuff like this than a three year old

But even so, the Paddle Ball Bolo is not the type of toy that can hold one's imagination the way, say, a giant plastic red crayon can.


Andrew Leon said...

Hey, you know, we have a race track that has never been used. My brother got it for my kids when I only had 2 of them, and the youngest one was too young to be able to do anything with it, and we lived in a place that didn't have the floor space to set it up anyway. It ended up being packed away and never used. I tried to sell it at the garage sale we had for only $10, but only one person even looked at it. I don't think they're in fashion any more.

On the other hand, we've never had a paddle ball where the ball stayed attached to the paddle for more than, oh, about 5 minutes, so I'm impressed.

Liz said...

I'm not going to ask why you got your Christmas card photos done in July. I started my Christmas knitting in January. I already have two presents finished. It's always better to get it done early.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

A giant plastic red crayon? I think a huge rubber snake can hold the imagination much better in my opinion. But all of that pales in comparison to a tiny stegosaurus.