(Plural, scamola. A scam of high degree.)

So, if you are curious to hear what Saint Aardvark sounds like, his video exposay of the Tonka Flashlight Force Light Command Dump Truck is here at Youtube. In the store, the flashlight made the truck do stuff through a Magical Motion Sensor. But out of the box, at home, the flashlight did nothing. Why? Because in the box, the flashlight and the truck were connected with a wire. Hey, I too can make things do things when they are connected by wires! But it’s not so fun for the kids, dragging around this truck / flashlight / wire combo. Probably not safe either.

I made a mental note – apparently not worth the paper they’re printed on these days – to avoid Tonka products. It was hard to do because they are the trucks of my childhood and I had them associated in my head with “sturdy,” “long-lasting,” and “good quality” but I couldn’t help but see the evidence as presented by the gimpy dump truck so I was firmly set up on my high horse. Then today happened.

Today was a rainy day and I am fighting a cold and I couldn’t muster the energy to take the children outside so that they could expend themselves and I thought hey, I know, Auntie & Uncle sent the boys gift cards for their birthdays, I will take them to the mall and say here, surprise! choose a new toy, and then they will play with them and I can pass out.

(For differing values of pass out. If I lie down while the children are awake and around, they immediately body slam me but today I wouldn’t much have cared.)

We went to Zellers and Trombone’s little mind went KERPOW and KABLAMMY as he pondered whether he wanted the Iggle Piggle that sings or the Makka Bakka that dances or the Thomas Sticker Extravaganza, complete with felt pens. Fresco, smartly restrained in the buggy, played with the little toy piano I gave him to hold and thus was no trouble at all. Eventually, Trombone decided on a Fold ‘N Go Garage and a Disney Princesses puzzle. Off we went.

Home, as we tore off the packaging, I suddenly realized that of course the “Fold ‘N Go Garage” is a Tonka product. I mean, what else could it be? Anything in a department store that is car-related but not Cars, the Movie, brand is made by Tonka or Hot Wheels. Duh. I felt moderately bad at having broken my boycott so quickly and without even noticing but Trombone got a big kick out of it, it’s one of those little structures with ramps and levers and a little elevator that goes up and down and he actually had a lot more fun with it, pretending the car was trapped inside, screaming for help, etc. than he would have had at the box-recommended 18 months of age.

So. The box. I went to break it down (just like DJ Lance Rock! Ha ha – a little light humour for the Yo Gabba Gabba! fans in the house. Anyone?) for recycling and then I noticed all the business written on the box. Stuff like, “Smilestones: How this PLAYSKOOL toy can help bring a smile to you and your kids,” which is, you know, a terrible play on words and also self-evident because toys = free time for mom = smiling but whatever and then I saw it.

“Loading, racing, dumping and chasing…it’s all in a day’s play for an active boy and his TONKA toy. When boys get in gear for fun, adventure and imagination, TONKA is there for every twist and turn on the road of boyhood. TONKA. BUILT FOR BOYHOOD.”

Oh no, you didn’t.

Reading it again I remember seeing this BUILT FOR BOYHOOD bullshit before somewhere and being mad and then getting on with my life but now that I have been so stupid as to buy something so, well, stupid, (twice now!) I am really mad. Not mad enough in this case to box it all back up (I’m pretty sure we’ve already lost the stupid boyhood car) and take it back, especially because of the tears and gnashing of teeth not to mention the strength I would need to get the children in the car again twice in a week but definitely mad enough to never, ever, ever buy another Tonka or PLAYSKOOL product or whoever their parent company is – probably one that also makes deodorant – again if I can help it.

For fuck’s sake. Tonka. You didn’t have to say that. You didn’t have to say anything about boyhood or girlhood or anythinghood. Just do your business: make a good quality toy that does what you say it does and people will buy it.

Or, you know, you could go with the “BOY LIKE TRUCK! VROOOM! (pls don’t look too closely at merchandise, kthxbye)” and see how that works out for you. Wouldn’t be my approach but hey, I’m just a chick buying assy cars and trucks for my boys. Obviously not an expert. Never had a proper boyhood, after all.


(To the Disney Princesses’ credit, nowhere on the puzzle box does it say anything about Princesses being a healthy part of every girl’s girlhood. But I did come across a link yesterday with photographs of the princesses re-imagined. Interesting stuff.)

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