Generic Toy Hunt

Everyone loves generic toys. Well, maybe not. It’s probably only limited to a few people who need more social skills. But generic toy hunting is always an intriguing and ultimately educational experience. You see, you never know just how evil toy companies are until you see the very bottom of the proverbial barrel of what they’ll try to get stupid kids to beg their parents to buy. They’ll literally try anything, toy companies don’t care — especially ones that have nothing left to lose.

Once upon a time, I decided to go out to a few stores and see the 2006 Offers of Shittiness — but certainly not alone! I wasn’t that big of a loser yet. I dragged Ronnie along for the trip, fresh off his stint of sitting at his computer for 56 straight hours. We grabbed a camera that we had no clue how to use and were ready for adventure.

First up on the trip is Walgreens. Not exactly the most obscure place to find toys, but it was right around the corner from Ronnie’s house, so we figured we’d stop in just to see if they had any of the bootleg Transformers we had heard about before.

For those of you that live just outside the edge of the known Universe and haven’t seen or been to a Walgreens and somehow don’t have one currently being built a block down from another Walgreens, then it should be noted that Walgreens is the modern equivalent of a drug store. Remember those? Those little tiny stores that tried to pack as much variety in goods as you could in fifty square feet but yet seemingly never had anything you needed? That’s about what Walgreens is now, just with a giant monopoly on being worthless. Sure it’s got a lot of stuff and there are about 700 stores in your neighborhood alone, and maybe it has that cool drive thru window for drugs that no one has ever used, but it never has what you want. You mostly just go there to buy Big League Chew since they’re the only place on Earth that sells it anymore.

A slightly lopsided photo of the exterior of a Walgreens store, evidently taken in haste.
Wow, it’s just like the Walgreens three blocks down the road.

Finding the toy section was harder than we initially thought it would be for a store that has about five total aisles, but we somehow kept wandering into the aisle with feminine hygiene products and condoms like we were in a middle schooler’s traumatic episode of the Twilight Zone. We finally located the toys, cleverly disguised with other random things, but it was unfortunately full of toys that neither excited us nor made us feel like loathing them. Kind of a lot like Walgreens itself, actually.

Walgreens seems to actually carry real toys for the most part, as we stumbled across Power Rangers and all the shit you’d find at your local Walmart, just condensed into about four feet worth of shelf space. We did however, find a couple of things worth mentioning:

Trucks That Tow Crazy Assed Shit

Photo of two little toys in packaging on a linoleum floor. They are tow trucks hauling a giant snake and aliens.
YEE HAW MOTHERFUCKS, I dun got me some snake n’ aliens

These things at least drew a laugh. Not so much the truck part, which was cheap and dreary looking, but just take a look at what these things are pulling. Not content with just pulling regular old “boring” trailers around, filled with what your average trailer contains, like old sinks or about seventy million mosquito-filled tires, these trucks went the extra mile and decided to pull GIANT SNAKES, and CAGED ALIENS.

Admittedly, the aliens look rather subdued for being hauled around behind a redneck’s truck, but still. They’re fucking aliens. Really bored and unconcerned aliens. Also note the giant solid-colored snake that had me laughing forever. It’s all reared up and coiled. Actually, the snake doesn’t look all that great now either. I blame this on being in Walgreens, where when you find anything out of the ordinary, it instantly draws your attention to save your brain from the numbing banality of everything else there.

Bootleg Transformers Part 1

Two photos side by side of "Construction Team" transforming robots, in green dump truck form and red... cherry picker? Earth mover? I have no idea.
Devastator is rolling in his grave.

Before we dashed out of Walgreens with a pound of Big League Chew in our mouths, we noticed these bootleg Transformers buried towards the bottom shelf. This was a nice surprise, considering everything else was lame as all hell, and also because these things were the brightest things in the store thanks to their stunning neon paint jobs.

These little guys are actually bootlegs of a set of Transformers from the Eighties, and if you’re old enough to even remember the Eighties then these guys may conjure up some nostalgia. Yes, these are none other than the original Constructicons, except… not. The original Constructicons were five small robots that could transform (hence the clever name) into construction vehicles, that could also be assembled into one giant robot once all five vehicles were put together in a fashion that no child on Earth could ever do without breaking one of the robots in the process. Of course, they were insanely popular. Popular enough I guess to continue making ugly bootlegs of them nearly twenty years later.

After running out of Walgreens with that befuddled “Why the hell did I even go into Walgreens” look everyone has after they leave Walgreens, we decided to hit our next location. And what better place than your every day random home-grown hobby store? They’ve always got useless crap, along with that scary guy behind the counter that asks you if you like trains.

Not affiliated with USA Town Hobby, or Town USA Hobby.

This hobby store seemed to be more content with carrying things that are actually useful to the hobby enthusiast, unlike most hobby stores that just consist of one aisle of old plastic ’57 Chevy Mustang model kits and a couple tubes of glue. This one had scale model pieces, various paints, and catered to several hundred different kinds of craft hobbies that I never even considered before.

But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here for some shitty busted looking old toys! We did scrounge up a couple of interesting things that were worth a look:

Fake Hairy Worm

Photograph of one of those toys that is just a fuzzy worm with googly eyes, only this is named "Magic Worm."
You motherfucker, you cost me my childhood!

I was more shocked than anything to see this little guy. Of course it’s mostly ass and nothing more than a green pipe cleaner with cheap fur attached, but me and this worm have had a history.

I once thought these things were the greatest thing to hit toys since spring-loaded weaponry. I would hoard them in my room as my unholy worm army, mostly thanks to them being incredibly cheap. It just so happens that one night, while staying with my grandparents, I decided to unleash Worm #485, and do a bit of worm scouting. My grandma was in the kitchen, removing the fat from whatever meat we were to be having for dinner at some point. I figure that since my grandma is absolutely terrified of worms and cannot even stand to look at pictures of them, that it would be comedy gold if I put one on her shoulder without her knowing, then scream, “Oh my god, there’s a worm on your shoulder!” in my shrill little child voice. Then the laughter would commence and we’d all have ice cream on the back porch.

But unlike what may happen on your average Andy Griffith episode, my scenario was slightly less funny, and more “scarring.” I barely got out the words, “OH MY GOD THERE’S A-” before my grandma turned to look at me, only to see this giant hairy worm on her shoulder. She then reacted by screaming and throwing discarded meat fat at the worm while I fucking ran like a bitch. About five minutes later, my Grandma began to realize that the worm was in fact fake and turned her rage toward me. Needless to say, this is the first time I’ve seen one of those damned worms since then.

Bootleg Transformers Part 2

Photograph of Insectobots, a knock off transformer toy.
That’s in robot mode, by the way.

Okay, they’re not bootlegs, but they took a neat transforming robot idea and made it as unexciting as possible. They’re just bad. That’s all I can even come up with. It’s a bug that has about two moveable parts that reveal a robot… that looks more or less exactly like the bug. These “Insectobots” looked about as entertaining as the fake worm does now.

Having had quite enough of the faint musty smell accompanying the hobby store, we decided to leave for our next destination, which is known as the generic toy hub of the Universe — Big Lots:

A photo of the exterior of Big Lots, with a pole in front of it right in the middle.
Big Fots.

If you’ve ever been to a Big Lots, then you already know the treasure trove this place is. At least places like Walgreens and, god help them, even Family Dollar, try to show that they carry brand name products. Big Lots however, doesn’t give a damn. It knows that all it sells is generic shit and all the damaged and outdated goods that no other stores want. It’s so proud of this fact that they actually trumpet it all over the store via cardboard cutouts of Jerry Van Dyke exclaiming, “Is this place great or what?” You know any store that uses Jerry Van Dyke as their mascot really isn’t trying that hard in the first place, and that carries over to everything there.

So what you have is an entire store that goes out of its way to sell you absolute shit, including groceries, which is just really frightening by itself. But we’re not here for year old tuna salad concentrate. No, we’re here for toys like the losers we are.

Scribble’s Spinheads

Photo of toys based on what appears to be late 80s or early 90s Black Stereotypes. They apparently make sound or move?
“Head Works Like Joystick!”

Imagine the toy-maker pitching this one to the toy company CEO. Scribble’s Spinheads seem to take racial stereotyping back about twenty years in one fell swoop. I loves me some representation, but these confound me in a way that feels like I’m a hundred years in the future looking back at this moment.

But these are not JUST troublesome figurines to decorate your home with. Since this just so happens to be a DJ, you can also move their head in four directions (just like real life) to make them bust out some funky mixes in screeching one bit mono that will surely send every Sucka MC and animal within forty yards running for their lives. The ones pictured here feature smoove hip hop and reggae beats to enjoy for hours to come — or until their Spinheads snap off which probably will be within three minutes.

Bootleg Transformers Part 3

A little set of toy trucks that apparently transform into robots because they are robots in disguise.

Wait… isn’t that… why yes it is! It’s another bootleg Constructicon set! Like the ones from Walgreens, except they’re all together in one package, and not painted in horrible neon colors. Not bad for $4.99. Needless to say, this is the only purchase we made the entire day. We later realized the reason it’s only $4.99. It seems this is what happened to all the rejected bootleg Constructicons that were either too fucked up to be sold as a generic toy by themselves, or assembled by a person that couldn’t understand the concept of “legs should not be put on backwards.”

The minute I even took mine out of the package, I knew I was dealing with a Grade A bootleg as two of the robots weren’t even assembled correctly and the others were so badly molded that they weren’t even able to be in either mode without looking like one of your old toys that you broke and tried to fix yourself with a pair of scissors and the concrete on the side of your house. The stickers also seemed to have been thrown at the toys from a distance, in hopes that they would sort of stick to it. But hey, it’s five bucks, and the stares we got from the cashiers were the stuff you could tell your grandchildren about someday.

Nasty Assed Table of Panties

Photograph showing a table of cardboard boxes filled with assorted panties of different styles. Also, one carton of bootleg Constructicons is in the nearest panty box.
There’s so much sadness here that pictures cannot do it justice.

This isn’t a toy, but it’s a goddamn table of panties. A dirty table of panties. Panties of indeterminate cleanliness themselves if we’re being honest. In the middle of the store. This is what I imagine third world countries have to deal with, but I never imagined that I’d see it for myself one day (outside of a flea market — but we all know those count as third world).

One gets the idea that a giant dump truck filled with panties just rolled up in Big Lots one day and decided this is as good a place as any to dump them. All 8,673,954 pairs of Big Lots quality panties. This almost made me feel soul-dirty just being near it, like I could become one of those creepy types who would dive headfirst into it and begin sniffing madly at them in hopes that someone returned a pair and were thrown back into the pile — which after glancing nervously at them a few times doesn’t seem to be that far from how things are done.

To make this scene slightly more acceptable, we inserted bootleg Constructicons in hopes of making this table not as horrid looking. Amazingly, not even the mighty bootleg Constructicons can topple the existential despair that is the Big Lots Panty Table.

After making our purchases, we decided to hit one more store before we called it quits for the day. So a few blocks down and a quick No Turn on Red we find ourselves at the illustrious Family Dollar.

Exterior scene of a Family Dollar complete with a flaccid American Flag.
Sheer elegance awaits.

Family Dollar is all about cheap. It has a few things that may occasionally breach the massive five dollar mark, but that’s not what Family Dollar is here to do. Instead, Family Dollar strives to sell you shit that no one else wants for very little money. Like pens shaped like cars and beach chairs in the middle of winter.

You also get a fine selection of toys, most of which are at least ten years old since no one ever restocks that shit. If there’s anything new at Family Dollar ever I honestly think it’s because other people just bring them stuff because they feel sorry for the store. “Here, take this barely-used whimsical pencil topper. I don’t need it anymore. Really.”

The toy aisle seems to be the same way, full of absolutely random shit you wouldn’t even see at a bad flea market. Let’s see what we found…

Grow A New Sister

Photo of a little solid color figure of a girl surrounded by weird misogynistic slogans on the packaging that you can barely even read.
I hope she puts out more than your current sister does.

This fine little piece of cheapness is something you really don’t see too often anymore presumably because it caused more than a few children to have life-saving surgery to remove an obstruction after they decided to eat it. If you were lucky enough to be a child in the Eighties, when ANY toy, no matter how dangerous or life-threatening, was allowed onto the market, then you might remember this kind of thing. So small when you bought them, but with the promise that dipping it into water will cause it to grow to ginormous proportions in a matter of seconds.

Unfortunately, the truth was much sadder than the actual event of watching your little piece of foul smelling plastic turn into a slime monster approximately 1.5 times larger than its original size. I’m not exactly sure what the hell this stuff is made of, but no matter which one you bought and submerged, the end result was always closer to a chunk of organ tissue that had been sitting in preservatives for years rather than the super toy promised on the box.

Such is the case with this thing here. I was well aware of what the hell it was, but never have I seen packaging taken so far as to literally try to pass off this small, pink lump of claystuff as a REAL GIRL… that you can GROW… in WATER.

If you can’t make out some of the amazing quotes on the package, it’s several reasons as to why your new lump of plastic will be ten times better than a real sister. As if that wasn’t absurd enough, a few of the quotes are decidedly un-childly, including the one stating, “You will never get as bloated as she does.” Oh really. The other statements are mostly just pitiful, like “You’ll be better than her at sports” and my personal favorite: “Compared to her, you’re the genius in the family, and therefore the favorite.”

I dunno about you but if I needed a slimy assed piece of wet clay-plastic to compare myself to to raise my self esteem, I’m pretty sure I’d throw my head in the sink along with my new little sister. Except when they found me a few days later, I’d be only slightly less bloated and slimy than this fucking thing, if the packaging is to be believed.

Fancy Pony

Photo of knock-off My Little Pony that looks like the old style of My Little Pony only with a saddle that doesn't come off, and a longer, horsier face.
Only the fanciest of ponies for me.

If the whole line of My Little Ponies seems to have sold out to the new generation of children, then you’ll be happy to know that you can still buy a shit pony at your local Family Dollar. Other than its elongated face which is in fact much more horselike — it appears to be close to the “original” Pony line of toys.

It doesn’t appear to be all that fancy to me. Okay, so it’s got the bright purple hair going and it’s made of nothing but pink plastic, but “fancy” may be going a bit far. That saddle for instance really clashes with its current colors, and the nose could use a few trips to the plastic surgeon. The eyes also scream “I put out” which is too desperate for any pony looking to be fancy. If there was ever a cry for attention, this is it. This pony would be better off being called “I Have No Standards and Am Probably Very Clingy In Relationships Because I Think No One Else Would Ever Want Me Pony.”

After that, we really couldn’t take any more. Besides, Ronnie kept bitching about how he was going to shit himself any minute thanks to the two pounds of Teriyaki Chicken he ate at the mall, so we decided to stop this madness. We had more than enough content for me to write this article, at the very least.

Toy companies will really go out of their way to make things that they think will appeal to young children. But it’s fairly obvious that what they think and how much medication they should probably be on isn’t always the same thing. So what we’re left with is a ton of toys that really have no point and that no kid in their right mind would ever want them, which is kinda sad. Sorta like that Island of Misfit Toys, except these toys would probably tear off your face and eat it if they ever inhabited an island. The Dark Island of Shit-Ass Insane Toys That Will Eat Your Face is what they’d call it.

I need friends.

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