Monday, July 28, 2003

Polly Pocket

Polly Pocket dolls are the latest craze for little girls on our block. In this day and age we have a Barbie for every taste, race, and want, with wardrobes that rival any given OscarTM telecast. We have robotic dolls called "Divas" which chatter at you in valley-girl bitchspeak, and "Brats" which look like the twisted love child of Barbies and Divas with a little alien abductor thrown in, which evidently sell well because they are all hip on current teen fashions (plastic doll butt-crack framed by thong underwear is something that has to be seen to be believed), and maybe because they are racially indistinct so no one can get their feelings hurt because it's hard to find a dolly that looks like them. (Which I find odd, as not a single G.I. Joe I ever had resembled me in any remote way* and I couldn't have cared less, but perhaps that's just a boy thing.)

*TLD: That's not entirely true. Before the days of kung-fu grip G.I. Joes, their hands were permanently molded so that they could hold a little plastic rifle. The left hand was shaped like a "C", and on the right hand the index finger and thumb where rigidly extended, the rest of the fingers folded back. Once, whilst digging for a large, elusive booger, I noticed that I had my hand shaped just like the trigger hand of my G.I. Joe on the floor next to me. The thumb was the primary tool and the index finger was used for support and leverage. However, this did not lead me to an epiphany that I wanted to grow up and have square pectorals and a scar on my cheek the way that some women have claimed to have wanted to be just like Barbie when they grew up. Nope, I just showed all my buddies that you could make it look like G.I. Joe was picking his nose. That kept us entertained for at least three whole days.

Yet, with all these wonderful high-tech and nuanced toys available, every girl on the block plays with these Polly Pocket dolls. Pollys are 3 1/2 inch high plastic dolls that you dress in little rubber clothes, and move around in little $9 playsets. It doesn't matter how rich, poor, black, white, twisted or nice the parent or the child is, this is the toy of choice right now.

Upon asking my daughter what the attraction is, she says it's because they're so small, and they can go in the water and out into the yard. They are sturdy little things, and yes the rubber clothing and hard plastic playsets do take abuse that would render most Barbies or Brats headless or looking like they had a tour through Syd's house from Toy Story. And they're so inexpensive, if you lose something, a fraction of allowance money gets back the lost item.

And I bet these things are a fluke hit. Toy manufactures don't really try to make things cheap, durable, and fun. Like most things these days, they're designed for maximum profit and breakage, which is just fine as far as the toymakers are concerned because most parents will fork out for a replacement. Then why do Pollys exist, since the evil toy manufacturers surely make them, you ask. I think they were a toss-off. An attempt to get that spare change, and an impulse item that most parents would agree to, since they're inexpensive.

So, if you're shopping for that inexpensive gift for the birthday party of your daughter's classmate (a complete stranger not worthy of a big lay-out of funds), go get yourself hooked up with Polly Pocket. She's the bomb right now.

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