Another article, another five dollars (and change!)
After a holiday hiatus (which included JediCole and Mrs. JediCole's annual Dollar Store Christmas Party) It Came From the Dollar Store! is back on schedule. So get ready to enjoy the spoils of a total waste of five dollars a month for the benefit of a few laughs at the expense of the modern "Five and Dime". And if you missed the first edition of this JCU feature you can find it here.
Fishing for Flavor
The biggest challenge in manufacture with the burgeoning American dollar store market in mind is finding a way to hit that target price point time and time again. It is especially difficult to achieve such a goal when playing in the decidedly uneven field of competition that is the novelty candy market. And into that contentious hotbed Hilco Corporation boldy strides.
|Brave, brave Hilco.|
You were likely thinking it was the Amish, but as it was the Shakers who's homespun religious devotion brought us the clothespin, casters, the circular saw, and the automatic rice picker that caused Mr. Spock's disfiguring ear injuries (City on the Edge of Forever), they are a natural resource for finding low-tech solutions for high tech problems.
|Reel Cherry Flavor|
|You have been warned! Now go on, enjoy your candy!|
The Winsome Dead
The holiday market is a seasonal revenue stream that is a constant boon to dollar stores. The ability to provide decorations and the other trappings of any given holiday has long been the sustaining factor of this uniquely positioned industry. So it is of little wonder that prior to any American holiday the shelves and kiosks nearest the entrance of such shops are always stocked with a treasure trove of inexpensive delights for any low-budget interior decorator.
If the decoration of this novelty snow globe (though, indeed, is there any other kind?) has not made it clear, this particular piece was found at a dollar store just in time for Halloween. And as party hosts and hostesses converge on the aisles each October, they find trinkets such as this are ideal accent pieces to place here and there about the house. Nothing speaks of a former pagan festival turned candy and costume industry cash cow like the good old fashioned ghost. (Or sheet phantom for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons players out there.*)
|Consider it the last costume you'll ever wear, son.|
Lacking any packaging or other material from which to glean the manufacturer's intentions it is left to the individual to determine exactly what matter hovers about these seemingly friendly specters. Has a pepper mill exploded? Are they haunting a coal mine? Who can say with certainty? The official JediCole Universe explanation is that these blithe spirits are simply the shades of victims of a fire caused by a poorly wired cackling witch Halloween decoration, the ash from said blaze still swirling about their incorporeal forms on a chilly autumn breeze.
But at least in death they wear a smile. Resigned to their fate they seem to take some solace in no longer having to worry about attending their neighbors dreadful alcohol free holiday party. Truly this ghostly duo personifies "dying happy"!
Spontaneous Generation, Cheaply**
The dollar store is not generally the ideal source to seek materials that will convey such learned disciplines as biology and language to children. However, there are indeed exceptions to every rule. And in the case of the following two inexpensive products, the contention emblazoned on the blister card is indeed borne out. Though these products were incorrectly remanded to the toy aisle, they are truly educational in nature.
To illustrate this we must first compare and contrast these two seemingly identical toys. Each utilizes the same core format, a small plastic vessel to act as a water receptacle, the same mysterious reactive chemical compound packed into the lid, and the same primary purpose - a single use tool that illustrates the miracle of animal reproduction past and present. They differ only in the choice of species used for this illustration of one common aspect of vertebrate biology.
|An amphibious love triangle.|
|The age of dinosaurs was littered with boulders.|
|Which one is the "Taddy Daddy?"|
|Read package directions carefully, their copy editors sure didn't.|
In the interest of lending some sense of a cohesive theme to this edition of It Came From the Dollar Store!, I give you Finga-Saurs...
|Wearing a Finga-Saur on just the middle finger proves dinosaurs evolved from birds.|
|Finga-Saurs is not recommended as a glove replacement.|
If dull-witted consumers can manage to get past the labyrinthine logic that is the interchangeability of finger puppets then they can enjoy this particular toy at full. As dollar store plaything go this one is certainly an attractive bargain with dinosaur puppets netting out at just over a quarter a head! In addition to the economy of scale represented here, there is also an appealing versatility. From educational puppet shows about life before man to a handy fix for the lack of foresight presented when one has only fingerless gloves at hand (in low temperature extremes the thumbs may still succumb to frostbite, however). And don’t forget the level to which a your enjoyment will be elevated when declaring a “thumb war” with one of these monsters gracing your opposable digit!
And now we must again bid a fond adieu to the world of cheap commerce. In about a week there will be a very special edition of this feature that has a connection to The JediCole Universe’s signature podcast, Hey Kids, Comics! Get ready true belivers for a look at comic book related dollar store finds coming soon!
*Sheet Phantom - "Fiend Folio" (1st Edition); 1981; TSR Hobbies, Inc.; page 78
Next week: The neo-otyugh.
**Spontaneous generation - the creation of life from components in the environment - is an ancient view of biology that was consolidated by Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) as an explanation of the origins of many forms of life on earth. While this belief was the standard for centuries, it would be widely dispelled by the research of 19th Century French microbiologist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).