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12/17/03

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Fisher-Price Markets "Empty Box" Toy for Infants


EAST AURORA, N.Y. (DPI) - Decades of toy production, exhaustive market analysis, intense focus-group testing, and millions of dollars in research and development have led toymaker Fisher-Price to one conclusion: When all the gifts have been opened on Christmas morning, the only thing infants are going to play with is an empty box. So this year, the company has decided to halt production of such favorites as the Little People Animal Farm and the Power Touch Learning System and to focus instead on the My First Empty Cardboard Box line targeted to children ages 3 to 18 months.

"We've provided parents with the best in early-stage educational toys designed to stimulate a baby's mind and to help them distinguish shapes, colors and sounds," said Lawrence Willit, vice president of marketing. "But in the end, we figured, screw it, the stupid kid's just going to toss aside the Baby Speak & Learn and be fascinated by the torn paper and box. Enough wasting our time on in- depth cognitive-response testing, let's just sell them the box, make a few bucks and go home early for once."

The toy manufacturer isn't just offering a new product, but is also changing its business philosophy. "For years we've been deciding on what we feel is best for the developing intellect of infants," said Benjamin Carter, director of new ventures. "We created products that offered positive reinforcement and cause-effect benefits. But to hell with that. From now on, we'll give them what they really want and let TV teach them what they need to know. We've discovered that, aside from boxes, infants are really only going to play with four categories of items: mom's keys, the dog's tail, their own toes, and anything expensive made of glass. These will be the inspirations for next year's products."

The box will retail for $12.95 and will be available only in standard cardboard brown. The corners will be reinforced to withstand chewing and gumming. When asked if Fisher-Price had plans for a new line of toddler toys, Willit said, "We've also accepted the fact that toddlers have a pathetically short attention span, no matter how great the toy. So we are developing the Gone Tomorrow line of toys that dissolve after three hours of use. Kids will have grown tired of it well before it dissolves, and parents will save on storage space."



(Reported by Buddy Fisher)




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