Monday, September 08, 2008

Par-Tay for whom, exactly?

Okay, someone obviously ain't reading my blog. If they did, they'd know that I ain't no fan of playsets.

My daughter's 8th birthday party was this past weekend, which means there's a new pile of crap (and I mean that in the nicest way) to unleash on the playroom. There's the set of High School Musical bedsheets, the Paint-Your-own Wall clock, and the Smoothie Maker. And hidden away amongst the rubble, unfortunately, are a couple of playsets.

Okay, the Barbie The Baker set was bad enough, but I have to wonder what the product designers were thinking when they came up with the Polly Pockets Club Groove Par-Tay Bus.

The concept seemed simple enough. It's the ultimate ride with a dance club inside! Take two vapid blonde bimbo girl dolls with microphones, and package them up in a rock-themed party van that blatantly rips off the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine. Make the van magically transform into a sound stage complete with disco ball, turntables, velvet ropes, and elevator. And if that didn't make enough sense for you, make the conversion from van to sound stage so complex that a parent is required to read eight pages of instructions and review a detailed schematic designed on a CAD program in order to figure out how to convert the exhaust manifold of the minivan into a dressing room. You read that right.

Transformers have always been amazing feats of engineering. This thing is not. To convert from a van to a stage, you must disassemble all the pieces, and then attach them in completely non-logical ways. The roof of the van becomes an elevator. The rear bumper, a bench seat. The front windshield, a second-story balcony. The disco ball, well, that is just a disco ball. There are 48 pieces smaller than a thimble. There is also no way of storing these pieces when not in use. After thirty minutes of trying to make sense of the directions, my daughter looked at me and said, "dad, wanna go play with the Wii?"

The pile of pieces have been sitting in the corner of the living room since yesterday afternoon, untouched.

So people, remember...playsets look great in the box, and that's where they should stay. Save the planet, save the landfills, and most importantly keep the dad from having a stress-induced coronary.

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