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As I noted previously, I have now retired from military active duty.  I am taking the Christmas season off to relax before going back to work for my new career out there in the Real World©®.  That means I have gotten the opportunity to spend much more time with the wife and kids.

Thursday morning, while the girls were in school and the little one was napping, my wife and I took the time to open and assemble all the kids toys for Christmas.  We did this early to avoid a late night on Christmas Eve, or the crisis rush on Christmas morning.  It took us much longer than we anticipated due to the nature of this year's toy packaging adventures.

We intentionally avoided the infamous clamshell death plastic this year.  The closest we came were with a pair of nicely packaged GE headsets for use with our cordless phone system.  They had a paperboard back that was easy to cut open -- no plastic cutting required.  The toy boxes took much longer than anticipated to open since the manufacturers seem to have substituted complex folded cardboard secured with miles of cellophane tape to replace the hated plastic clamshells.

The full-view packaging designers win the raspberry award this year for their use of wire twist ties suitable for towing.  These things were so thick that our Fiskars scissors, normally a match for any consumer packaging, failed miserably.  I had to resort to my Craftsman wire cutters, though I wondered if I might need something bigger.  The stiff, machine-tightened wires were impossible to undo by hand even when we had full access to them behind their nefariously complex packaging.  Be ready with your own heavy-duty implements of destruction in the coming days.

We have been buying stuff over the last 6-8 months, as items became available.  We have found many of the things we chose are now not available, or available on Amazon or EBay at astronomical markups over what we paid just months ago (a $40 toy was selling for $175).

Our son emerged from his nap and demanded to do some preliminary play testing of things his sisters would be getting.  He gave a double thumbs up to a few items, but his clear favorite was Pat Pat Rocket.  Since he is just on the verge of walking, we feel he will not spill the beans before Tuesday.

Post-Christmas Update

The Pat Pat Rocket was a hit with all the kids, but we found that little hands could not pry open the top to play with the figures inside.  I remedied that with a sticky tape tab they could grip, but a better design would be appreciated by parents.  It also falls into the category of toys which are too loud.

GeoTrax Rail and Road System Grand Central Station by Fisher-Price:  Recommended; another big hit.  We left this one in the box and assembled it on a bedroom floor while the girls were busy elsewhere.  It is a big hit on available floor space, so we had to be careful where we put it.  The assembly was pretty easy, but I see the engine will be chewing through lots of AAA batteries.

vtech ABC Food Fun: Not recommended.  It is too loud, comes on randomly even after it is supposedly powered off automatically, the door is hard to open, it is too easy to accidentally hit a mode button,  and the magnet pieces are hard for kids to align correctly to make it work.  Other than that, it briefly held the attention of a three-year-old.

Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 10:40 PM Personal | Back to top

Comments on this post: Our Christmas Toy Experience

# re: Our Christmas Toy Experience
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Have you tried Fiskars Utility Cutters? They work great getting through plastic, cardboard, etc. Merry Christmas.
Left by Cheryl on Dec 27, 2007 6:36 PM

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