I was being a particularly petulant parent on this October morning when I threw a tantrum outside the toy store, refusing to go in when all my kid wanted to do was do a little window shopping for his birthday. In my defense I was very hangry. Also in my defense, he was lying. Window shopping is not a concept known to 7-year-olds.
But once my devious kid had convinced me to pick myself up off the floor and enter the hellscape that is the Norwegian toy emporium, I felt… worse and instantly threw another tantrum. I begged for a coffee, side-eyed a dude clearly there to buy Lego for himself, and tripped over a child I thought was part of the diorama display at the storefront. The display still showed a snowy scene in early October, left over from last winter, with reindeer and polar bears and this somehow irritated me more.
Finally my kid gave up on me and went off to browse at his leisure, and I settled into a funk that only this toy managed to get me out of:
I looked around and noticed that other mad things were ogling me from various shelves and I got to thinking: “Has my hunger fully taken over and hallucination come to my rescue?” The RAINBOCORNS Talkin’ Jelly Shake Surprise tried to liberate me of almost Kr700 of my personal fortune, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering spending that amount just to experience what is obviously a large plastic container filled with LSD.
I turned to the nearest shop assistant and stared him right in the eye. I looked back at the RAINBOCORNS Talkin’ Jelly Shake Surprise. I looked back at the assistant. He knew what I was after. Explanation. A goddamn account of what was going on here and why he was pretending that nothing was. He didn’t even flinch. My first question for this smug peddler of expensive nonsense: Just what the fuck is a jelly shake? Is it jelly stuck in a milkshake? Has he had one? is it just a pudding put in a blender? He didn’t know. He wanted me to go away. OK, but why was the shake recording me? “Please leave me alone, I just work here.” OK, a follow-up. Rainbocorn, like, I mean, just, come now, I feel like, maybe just, perhaps I…WHAT?! WHAT THE ACTUAL MOTHER OF GOD IS A RAINBOCORN? Why does Rainbo not have a ‘w’? Or ‘talking’ missing its ‘g’ – “Listen, I beg you, I have to get to work” – If there is a rainbow unicorn inside, has it been blended up into liquid? – “Oh, please stop scaring the children” – But its been layered – the egg’s contents, I mean. Eight layers, man! Of “sweet surprise”! The layers ‘come alive and talk back’. I’m not the one scaring the children, this giant cup of horror, wait, don’t go, I have more questions.
A little child ogling me comes to my aid. It informs me that it’s not a unicorn inside the cup. It’s a pig.
That breaks me. That’s the final straw. I move off, giggling miserably, wondering if the child is aware that this is a sign of the end times. Clearly not, or else it wouldn’t now be optimistically mouth sampling and moistening every piece of wooden food from the ‘fake adulting’ section.
This section, I discover, feels a bit more like safe ground to me. Until this.
Look, I get that it’s French. There’s probably a toy bar cart somewhere complete with little bottles of absinthe for the more daring children, but I take umbrage with the title: 100% Chef. There’s no cheffing going on here. There isn’t even any barista-ing, it’s a coffee pod machine. It’s just wrong.
Not far off, a little girl is clearly selling cyanide-laced products to her unsuspecting brother:
A a little further on, the marketers were at a loss as to who their market was and came up with this:
Sorry it’s so blurry, I was having a small seizure trying to figure out who the target market was. Every little book-carrying, white-dress-and-bobby-socks-wearing child enjoys taking her barbeque for a walk, I concluded. Perhaps she is a hardcore conservative and is planning on burning that book because girls wear trousers in it. Or maybe she suffers from some kind of visual aphasia and she mistook the thing for a large dog. Best case scenario, she is a witch and that is a book of spells and she needs the bbq for some kind of ritual.
I moved on, desperate now to find my child in case he asked for his own pet barbeque. En route, I found this.
No. It’s the hair that’s really upsetting me.
Also, no. Come on, she’s liquoring up.
Somehow this is worse than encouraging kids to drink alcohol.
And, finally, the worst rubber duck of all time:
I’m sure it floats. I’m sure it performs all the normal functions of a rubber duck exploding sideways out of a hard plastic gift box. I’m sure someone at the company making this was not high AF.
I eventually find my child among the dinosaurs. And discover that there is one unique culprit causing much of this distress. Zuru, the company making the 8 layer jelly shake made of rainbocorn pigs. Here they promise me a dinosaur pet.
Hang on a minute, I see where they went wrong there. No no, nothing wrong with a Stegasaurus pet, who doesn’t want that? It’s no judgement, really, I just don’t really think we want to call a rocket-launching, roaring, lit-up, chomping, REAL FIRING WEAPON WIELDING extinct reptile a “pet”, in the traditional sense. I shudder to think what kind of expectations my child will have of a real animal companion, should he encounter one. “This cat doesn’t shoot brain-melting lasers from its butt? That’s no pet. Come meet the bird I modified with a tiny flame-thrower. His name is FlameThrowerButt. Oh, he’s dead.”.
Anyway, Zuru. Get it together. You have issues.
And it’s not that I expect all toys to be educational or whatnot, but where are the days of hideous monsters in one’s pocket, little victorian-era girls that turn into scented cupcakes, furry gremlins that shudder and do nothing else, or tiny plastic babies whose butts change colour when you try to drown them in ice water? Honestly, things just don’t make that kind of sense anymore.
Apparently the owners of Zuru are from New Zealand, and I’ve seen the kind of creatures that came out of that place, so this whole thing is starting to make sense. For all I know, pigs, bunnies and sickly puppies whose hearts need erasing (no jokes, this is something on offer) do hatch from eggs filled with mystery layers that watch you and talk back in your own voice.
Anyway, my kid eventually came to liberate me from the gathering of security personnel I had attracted, and informed me that he had settled on a Jurassic World themed Lego kit that cost me one of my superflous kidneys. I would be lying if there were no laser-shooting dinosaurs in that one, so the joke was on me.
There is a moral to this story, which I hurry to include before I have to run off to the gym to ensure I am in fighting form for any version of the apocalypse that might come (probably two kidneys would have been helpful too). The moral is: if you are a parent, guardian, or a person who spends any amount of time with children, do yourself a favour: start doing LSD.