Friday, January 26, 2007

Suddenly I'm the Dora expert

My friend Howard has taken to forwarding friends to me for shopping advice when it comes to buying Dora toys to give as gifts.

Dora Toys? I mean, come on. Skil saws, perhaps. Delta power planers, maybe. but Dora toys? No, that trophy belongs to my lovely wife, who can sniff out a sale on the Toys R. Us faster than you can say "gift card".

But since it's unlike me not to have an opinion, I felt compelled to share my years of Dora toy-shopping expertise with her. She was looking for a toy for a two-year-old. Of course I started by explaining that the person who invented the playset is responsible for global warming, and that if she wanted to remain friends with the parents of the child receiving the gift she should avoid buying a playset at all costs. This is common knowledge, but it's worth restating: the problem with playsets is as follows:

1. The packaging is retarded. Dozens of tiny pieces vacu-sealed in plastic, attached to a cardboard/plastic/asbestos display box with thousands of feet of wire, scotch tape, and ultra-stretchy fishing line meticulously tied by elderly Chinese women locked away in the dungeons of Taiwan. Unpacking these toys has been known to send many fathers to the emergency room with heart issues.
2. The product can never be re-gifted or returned. This is not because once you get it out of the box you can't get it back in, but because once the kid sees the new toy it's over. She will be instantly stricken with wonder, and if you snatch it back from her in an effort to utilize that gift receipt you'll cause major psychological damage that will stay with her through menopause.
3. After ten minutes of playtime, half the parts will be lost, and the other half will be broken. Those parts that aren't lost or broken will be embedded in the dad's foot.

So basically, don't waste your money on a playset. The parents of the gift recipients will remain friends with you as a result.

That said, there's a world of toys out there with Dora's football-shaped head and salad bowl haircut slapped on them. Everything from Chutes & Ladders "Dora Style" to entire bedroom suites of furniture with Dora, Boots, and all her little friends hiding in the underwear drawers. The world is your oyster.

This got me to thinking. Ford Motor Company has been having lots of financial troubles lately. They could clear up their issues with one quick branding agreement. "The Dora Explorer." Brilliant! You saw it here first, folks. The SUV would come in shades of pink and purple, complete with built-in backpacks attached to each seat, binoculars in the arm rest, and a GPS navigation system that, upon starting the car, would sing, "I'm the map I'm the map!" and then give directional advice such as "to get to the airport, first you have to drive through your neighbor's Magical Garden, then over the Singing Railroad Tracks, and Down the silly Parkway." Can you say it with me? Magical Garden! Singing Railroad tracks! Silly Parkway! Great!" They'd sell a bizillion of these. Of course each truck would come sealed in plastic and wire-tied to cardboard boxes, which means it couldn't be driven without first digging out the wire snippers from the basement.

Wow, I think I hurt myself on that one.

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