Monday, December 26, 2005

 

The Hall of Shame - Cheap Toys - Part 1

The post-Christmas season around the household here is always a good time to take stock of toys that work and toys that do not.We're very lucky to have the opportunity to either purchase toys or receive them from the many family members that live nearby.

The vast majority of these toys work really well. Some do not. This is going to be a post about one that does not.

It's the Battery Operated Road Race Set. It's distributed by Midwestern Home Products, Inc. P.O. Box 0591 Wilmington DE 19899. The item number is 06245. It seems to be a slot car track.

It says ages 5 and up. However, you have to be a careful adult with a deft touch to not break the thing putting it together.

And, even then,

1) both posts of the start/finish line broke apart while trying to attach them to the track. One post broke at the top somehow. the other at the bottom.

2) the catch fence feet, where they attach to the track, sheared off 20% of the time, leaving most of the catch fence barely hanging on to the track. This affects the racing because the catch fence keeps you from sliding off the track if you keep the car floored, which is about all you can do with the controllers that came with the track.

3) the places where the track fits together are frail. I had to bend the metal ins and outs back "in" the very first track layout. If you shear these off, you're done with that piece, as the electrical connection between the track segments can't be reliably made.

4) the box can't be used as storage due to the very cheap and flimsy packing material. You're on your own for storage.

5) the accessories mentioned on the box include two extremely small signs that are supposed to attach to the track. You would almost miss them if you didn't know they were "advertising billboards". That's supposed to be the accessories as far as I can tell.

6) The figure-8 layout is the only one that goes together without irritating gaps between track segments.

The cars themselves were the only positive thing in the box. So, trying to be a good sport, I played with this set with my little boy for a long time. The whole while I pondered frail, fragile, cheap, plastic toys.

This would have to be my first real encounter with something that did not seem to be play-tested at all whatsoever. For that, I'm quite grateful.

For a great link to a good read that includes a bit about Midwestern Home Products, check out Cheesy Toys #9.

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