For a long time now, I’ve been increasingly suspicious that there is someone high up in the ranks of Fisher Price who is deliberately fucking with a whole generation of parents. Don’t get me wrong: my kids love their Fisher Price toys and I love that my kids love these toys because that gets them (literally) off my back for a few minutes. But there’s something else there, something underlying all this Toy Joy, something sinister. For the past six years, I’ve been collating an extensive dossier on Fisher Price which I’m hoping to present to the team of 60 Minutes for a big prime time humdinger of an exposé. And when that exposé happens, it will shake the very foundations of the world we live in, such as when we found out that the man who brought the world Bambi was a nazi-sympathising fascist pig or that Jennifer Beals didn’t actually do the dance sequences in “Flashdance” (although she did do her own welding which has got to count for something, right?).
For one thing, there is all that packaging. Is it just me or does the amount of wiring and sticky tape and plastic casing seem just a touch excessive? It’s the kind of security one might employ in an inter-prison transfer for Hannibal Lecter rather than in the delivery of a plastic home and contents to a small child. Even an adult armed with the Jaws of Life can’t free those plastic toys from captivity in less than an hour – which, let’s face it, is one hour too many in the eyes of an impatient child on Christmas morning.
And then we have the music. The music! Last Christmas, Tiddles got given an FP fire engine which he loves. Loves! But let’s consider, for a moment, the lyrics of the charming little song that fire engine plays:
Up and down, down and up…
Watch my ladder lift up pup…
With a beep, beep, honk, honk, all around the town…
Up and down and round and round.
Harmless enough, you say? Now put it to the tune of “This Old Man”, have a choir of ultra-cutesy American kids sing it and punctuate each phrase with the sound of dog yapping. Are you still feeling okay? You’re obviously made of strong stuff. Now, indulge me if you will, and play it again. And again. And then again. And then once more for good measure. How are you feeling now? Yep, I thought so. Look, do yourself and everyone around you a favour and just take the toy outside and give it a good kicking, will you? Please?
The rather large omission of an ON/OFF switch on a large percentage of the Fisher Price range arguably lends a song like “You Can’t Stop The Music” a much more threatening tone. There are always one or two musical toys which lie on the bottom of our toy boxes and get set off by the slightest of tremors, such as the ones created by Tiddles after the excessive consumption of baked beans. And of course the battery hatch on these toys requires the ever-elusive Phillips head screwdriver to get it open and thus gives safe harbour to seemingly self-renewing batteries that leave that Duracel Bunny gasping for breath in the dust, big puff that he is.
But in our household, nothing quite matches the diva-esque tenacity of the musical teapot my sister sent The Pixie for her birthday, which needs to be on a completely level surface for it to stop tinkling menancingly in the background like the theme music for “Rosemary’s Baby”. Stranger yet, is that the accompanying cups in the tea set have two holes drilled in the side of the cup, so that if you drink from them holding the handle with your right hand, they leak their contents all down your front. Which means any time The Pixie and Tiddles have a tea-party, they end up looking like they’re contestants in the toddler division of a wet t-shirt competition. I mean why would you do that to cups in a children’s tea-set unless you deliberately wanted to push an already floundering parent completely over the edge? So I’m saying “Screw you and your evidently Evil Agenda, Fisher Price” and I’m teaching my children to drink left-handed. Ha! And when I’ve managed to finish my dossier, I’m going to hand it to 60 Minutes and I’m going to do that left-handed as well. That’ll show them. That’ll show them all. But, as I said, I’ve got to finish collating that dossier and before I can do that, I’ve got to get that damn “Up and Down” song out of my brain and… what was I saying again? Never mind, I’m off to the Target sale to get Tiddles a Little People Crack Den to add to his ever-expanding Little People empire. Toodle pip!