Monday, December 18, 2006

Do toy manufacturers hate parents?

If you are the parents of small children you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Why is it that toy manufacturers place their products in packaging more secure than Fort Knox?

When the child unwraps her first new toy all she wants to do is rip it open. Being the smart parent you are, you manage through kicking and screaming to convince her to open the rest of the gifts under the tree first. Big mistake, because it will take you at least half and hour to release the contents of each gift from its packaging.

Now, when I was a kid (oh gosh, I sound like a grandmother), there were two flimsy twistie ties holding the contents inside a box which had a single, thin piece of tape on one end. Today, removing the tape is the easiest part of the process. Both ends of the box are now secured with packing tape which is stronger than anything you can buy at Staples. You are forced to wade through piles of presents, torn wrapping paper, and bows in order to get to a pair of scissors or a pen knife to slice through it. Of course, some manufacturers don't bother with the tape; they use an adhesive on the box which works so well that you are guaranteed of losing at least one fingernail as you attempt to pry the edges of the box apart. Amazingly enough, the glue leaves no room to wiggle in the thinest knife to help you open the box.

You have this sense of accomplishment after finally getting into the darn thing. That soon fades when you pull the cardboard insert out of the box and find each of the half a dozen items is secured with no less than three wire cable ties, plastic film (to hold down the doll's hair) which is sewed into the back of the insert, and any small accessories are inside a separate plastic piece glued to the cardboard.

I have to admit I don't know if the cable ties are fastened by hand or machine, but if people are involved I can just imagine all the fun they are having as they twist the ends in opposite directions and often tie them in a knot. "Let's see them undo this one," I can hear the factory worker saying with an evil grin. Just when you think you have figured out which way the twistie ties go, you find you have actually turned the ends so the product is even more secured than before. After cursing, you undo what you did and start over.

I guess if untwisting the ties was the end of it, I could handle that...but it's not. After the cable ties are unfastened you still have to pry them off the tiny black plastic pieces with holes that they thread the cable ties through. Since these ties are not made of plastic, when they are twisted it causes bends in the wire which are all but impossible to pull through the little holes in the plastic pieces. So for a while you straighten out the little wire cable ties and hope you have worked out enough of the kinks to be able to pull them out...but you haven't. Cursing once more, you start yanking on the darn things so hard you think you will break the toy. When that fails to result in success, you break a pair of scissors cutting the wires because who knows where in the heck your wire cutters are at the hour when your kids forced you out of bed to open gifts.

Once you get all the cable ties off, you are almost done. The plastic film which secures the hair inside the box - I guess dolls don't like to have bad hair days - can be carefully removed by cutting through a bit of the string that holds it to the box. If by chance you cut one bit of hair off the doll's head however, your child will proceed to toss herself on the floor, kicking and screaming, until you agree to glue it back on somehow.

And then you come to the last piece of the puzzle - the plastic holding all the little accessories into the box. I don't remember dolls coming with so many accessories when I was a kid. It could be because I preferred hot wheels cars to all the dolls my poor mother bought trying to convert me into a real girl, but Barbie came with a pair of shoes, a purse, and studded earrings. Nowadays, in addition to all that stuff, Barbie, Bratz, and any other popular doll comes with no less than six tiny accessories which serve no purpose other than to cause parents grief when they are lost five minutes after they are extracted from the box. And since it is a labor of love which removes them from their packaging, you would think the manufacturers would put a carrying case inside.

You see, when you remove the plastic holder from the box you think you are home free. But here is where they get you - the plastic is actually not one piece, it's two. One piece fits into the other and they are taped together with some skinny tape which is almost impossible to cut. If you are lucky enough not to find tape holding both pieces together, then you can be assured there will be tape running across the inside to hold all the little accessories in place - as if they could go anywhere.

So after half an hour of listening to the pounding noises of your child jumping up and down in anticipation, and screams of, "I want to play with it now," you can move on to the next toy which will take you another half an hour to extract from its packaging.

Kind of makes you want to buy nothing but socks, don't it?

Enjoy your holiday!

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Blogger Lynn said...

good luck Christmas m,orning

12:10 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Gee thanks, I'm gonna need it.


2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice Cheryl, you have described many a Christmas mornings in my household. Good Luck buddy you are going to need it with having two girls and two sets of dolls with accessories. I think you may need to buy a second set of sizzors, one for your husband and of course one for you. Merry Christmas and good luck... Lorrie

5:08 PM  
Anonymous gwanny said...

Whats even worse is that with all of those pieces of plastic and twistie ties laying around you take a chance that the little one will decide that it might be fun to place some of those goodies in their mouth, up thier nose, or in their brothers ear.
I'm so glad that all I have to do is give the's up to you young and patient Moms to break into the boxes.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Lorib said...

Nice post Cheryl,

You captured Christmas morning for many people. Because we had little money my hubby and I usually had to shop and wrap on Christmas Eve. What we would do is open all the presents before wrapping them. We'd stay up late playing with the toys before wrapping...we had to make sure they worked!

HeHe, Now I'm with gwanny on being happy to handover that horrid job!


7:28 PM  
Blogger Sravan said...

Very funny. Didn't know about these difficulties. Makes me prefer to be at the giving or the receiving end; certainly not the unwrapping end. Merry Christmas.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to spend all this next year convincing your girls that stuffed animals are better! They don't come in packages or with accessories!
Good luck friend. Take some Tylenol.
Hope your Christmas is a happy one.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I'm glad you all found this topic entertaining. One of my daughters went to a Christmas party at the beginning of the month and the present she got was nearly impossible to get into.

With Christmas approaching fast, I thought this would be a funny way to discuss my frustrations.


10:28 PM  
Anonymous Fay Reeve said...

I'm a fan of "Antiques Roadshow", and one thing that stands out in the comments is "The toy would have been even more valuable if the box it was packed in, had been in pristine condition!" Makes you wonder just how much value the manufacturers put on today's toys, doesn't it?

Have a Happy Christmas. (Early to bed Christmas night might be a good idea, too to make up for Christmas Eve).



12:09 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Very interesting point Fay. I never thought of that.

I don't know if I'll be heading to bed early on Christmas Eve. I've been sick, so I still have lots to do, but Christmas night I hope to hit the hay real early. The kids might have other plans though.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


11:00 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Cheryl, you are a trip! I love your 'analysis' of these evil holiday factory workers! Very cute! I can certainly relate...thanks for the chuckle! :)


11:47 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Glad it made you laugh Amy.


12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can definately relate to what you are saying. You worded it in such a way that is very funny, but I do recall my fair share of bad words trying to wrangle a barbie doll out of it's package. LOL And have you ever accidently run your vacumm over one of those twist ties? What a pain in the rear that is...LOL Oh and the small clear pastic items that are hard to see on the floor until you step on it...LOL Oh joy I can't wait until Christmas Morn'....LOL!!

Merry Christmas,

1:19 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Can't say that I've vacummed over a twistie tie, but I got concerned the cats had swallowed one a couple times.

I'm glad you liked my silly ramblings.

Merry Christmas!


10:40 PM  

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