Tag Archives: kids

Princess and the Pea Redux

20 Apr

My kids have this classic book called The Princess and the Pea. Like the first Batman movies, it is strange and stupid. Like Chris Nolan’s Batman movies, it can become a believable real world story with a few tweaks here and there. So here’s the real story (well, the old one made more believable). [You can click each image for a bigger one, or a good qualty pdf (1.6mb) or one in even higher quality (6mb)].

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Six Dreadful Product Designs Part 2

23 Mar

See Part 1 <<

A week ago, I started counting down six of the more disastrous products to have blighted my life lately. Here’s #4.

4. Nearly Every Kid’s Bike

We bought a bike for my elder daughter to reward her for some or other good behaviour, and recently my younger also received the slightly shorter variety. Unfortunately for everyone, the designers of these fine machines had become aware of a fashion in the mountain-biking world of building unconventionally shaped cycles such as these:

Chunky frames such as these make sense when the bike is made of aluminium and intended to carry 100 kgs of athlete down a mountain, over rocks and jumps. They make considerably less sense when the rider weighs 20 and still uses training wheels.

Most full-size adult bikes weigh in the region of 10-15 kgs. My daughters’ bikes — the smallest and second-smallest sizes available — weigh 7 kgs and 9 kgs respectively. To make matters worse, the little one has pedal brakes, meaning that if the poor blighters have the strength to get the unnecessarily huge chunk of steel moving forwards, any misplaced backwards pressure brings them grinding to a halt again. All this so that kids’ bikes can look like fancy adult bikes; function be darned.

I managed to find bicycles from the never-more-appropriately-named Peerless Cycles in the traditional shape with thin, lightweight pipes (it weighs two kilograms less than the Avalanche), so I bought one of those. I’m sure I’ll find a buyer for the old bike who wants his daughter to be able to stand fashionably alongside an expensive-looking mountain-bike replica while her friends ride off on bikes that actually work.

Just don't be surprised if this is her riding face.

3. Electrolux ‘Aqualux’

At one stage, we bought a whole string of those cheap mini vacuum cleaners that fill up with dust in about 10 minutes, and then start making a higher and higher pitched whine until at last someone caves in. Usually it’s the vacuumer, who must then empty the bag, but often enough it was the vacuum that couldn’t go the distance. When we had jettisoned our second or third one of these, I decided that enough was enough, and I bought a quality brand with the biggest dust bin that I could find.

Certain of my wife-impressing potential, I brought it home and declared all our problems solved. I imagined that what lay in that box was something like this:

UR house R2-dirty

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that no one who actually had to use the vacuum cleaner was going to be my friend. A design problem that Electrolux seem not to have addressed is how the thing is supposed to move. Here are the immediate concerns:

  • It is a large, heavy bucket with a handle on top, and should therefore be classed as ‘unweildly’.
  • It has wheels that suggests it is made to roll along the ground.
  • It has no means of pulling it along the ground but for the vacuum pipe, which we discovered has a habit of popping out of its socket and breaking in pieces.
  • It has tiny, tiny wheels and its motor is on the top. So is the pipe. So pulling it along often amounts to pulling it over. Even regular vacuuming can tug it to the ground. That’s not good for said motor.

So basically it’s exactly like R2D2 in that it is an impressive machine so long as no one requires it to go anywhere, and no one kicks it in the midriff.

It was frankly never a well-built machine; it blew air out of places that other vacuums don’t even have places (which sort of contravenes the whole ‘vacuum’ principle) and it didn’t take very long to develop a catalogue of breakages:

This sort of thing is obviously why there has been no repeat of the ‘Nothing Sucks Like Electrolux’ slogan.

So now we have one of those cheap things that fills up with dust in 10 minutes. Let’s hope it has more of a will to live than its ancestors.

Part three later; I’m sleepy.

Impy’s Wonderland makes me Wonder

30 Jun

Ugh.Impy’s Wonderland is a kids’ movie, seemingly aimed at the 5-10 year-olds. It’s not very good, although to be fair I wasn’t really paying attention.

The movie did get me to focus for a short while, however, because utter disbelief is a good attention grabber. The dull dinosaurish creature, Impy, wants to be a star and so accompanies the bad guy to his theme park to be a performer. At his show, he begins to sing — but what song do the writers script compilers have him do? Apropos of nothing, he breaks into Sex Bomb by Tom Jones. For 5-year-olds.

That’s not even the worst part. As a ‘visual gag’, two phallic cannons each blow a load of glitter out onto the stage as the lyrics begin.

Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re a sex bomb uh, huh
You can give it to me when I need to come along, give it to me
Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re my sex bomb
And baby, you can turn me on, baby, you can turn me on
You know what you’re doing to me, don’t you?
Ha ha, I know you do

I’m not sure how much of the song they did as I made a dive for the skip button — both because it’s a deeply, deeply inappropriate scene for kids, and a really annoying song for adults — but that definitely earns Impy’s Wonderland a demotion from mediocrity-purgatory into the stupidity inferno.