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The Island of Hazardous Toys

The real story of the Island of Misfit Toys.

You want to know the real truth about the Island of Misfit Toys? You know the place – the one featuring cowboys riding ostriches, squirt guns that shoot preserves (raspberry or boysenberry I believe), and wooden trains, in particular, a caboose with square wheels -- those toys. The conventional wisdom was these oddities were deported from the grips of children simply because of a few snafus at the factory. But the real reason was . . . lawsuits.

As you may or may not recall, the lasting image from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special was these misunderstood toys parachuting from Santa’s sleigh all over the world. It was truly the feel-good story of our generation. But then reality soon struck like a sledgehammer.

Thanks to shoddy craftsmanship and opportunistic trail lawyers, these “misfit” toys posed serious hazards to unsuspecting children everywhere, which is why they were permanently banished to some God forsaken, block of ice island -- the real frozen tundra; not the often referred to ‘Lambeau Field’ in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

In the United States alone, dozens upon dozens of innocent children received injuries from these toys and the lawyers were salivating like Santa eyeing a plate of sugar cookies. The jam-shooting squirt gun caused severe eye irritation; one child was left partially blind in one eye. A handful of children in Texas, expecting to receive a “Howdy Pardner” type of Christmas gift, instead were greeted by “Howdy Poultry.” Needless to say, the children were extremely traumatized and had to seek therapy. The square wheels on the caboose . . . well, that was just plain dumb. The supervisor who allowed that oversight to occur was quickly terminated, but later found a cozy job with the federal government.

Oh, there were other misfit blunders; too many to list here in this story. A recent model Tickle Me Elmo doll developed groping issues and the Easy Bake oven, a holiday gift mainstay for girls, kept broiling those cute little cakes into submission, prompting health officials to take immediate action. Then there was the problem with Sea Monkeys, a gag gift consisting of harmless brine shrimp eggs. You simply add water and the eggs blossom into swimmingly minuscule creatures. Somehow, piranha eggs were unknowingly mixed in, which in due time, ultimately led to numerous missing fingers.

Since Santa flatly refused to accept any sort of responsibility, the toys were ultimately returned to the Island of Misfit Toys. King Moon Racer, the Flying Lion who ran the joint, was soon up to his mane in oddball toys and the like. And every year it was the same story; more arrived via courier or boat, all clinging to hope that Santa would fly by and scoop them up in time for Christmas delivery. But with neon orange hazard labels now slapped on each and every one of them, there was no way Santa Claus wanted to be implicated or sued for delivering hazardous goods. Been there, dodged that. Besides, Santa already had a lot on his plate, and not just food. He was dealing with striking elves.

After much brainstorming with business partner friend and greedy gold-obsessed prospector Yukon Cornelius, King Moon Racer (KMR for short) hit upon a brilliant idea. “We shall repackage, remarket, and clearly relabel these uniquely special treasures for children everywhere and sell them exclusively at the finest stores like FAO Schwarz.”

Mr. Cornelius, with his trusty pick in hand, licked his chops with excitement. In fact, the bearded man was so ecstatic at this ‘prospect’ he abruptly retired his line of haphazard sled dogs and never looked back.

In mere months, the two entrepreneurs were up and running, creating a highly successful business selling misfit toys. Their website, proved to be an Internet sensation. The jam-shooting squirt guns alone fetched three hundred clams. The block-wheeled caboose? Not so much.

In due time, the Island of Misfit Toys became a North Pole hotspot. Site seeing tours popped up with people eager to catch glimpses of the misfit toys in their natural habitat. An eco-friendly lodge opened, even a ski lodge. There were even rumors of the winter Olympics being held there. Not really.

Still, all parties were ecstatic: KMR, Yukon Cornelius, and especially the misfit toys, who finally found a way to be loved. And as an added bonus, each toy received a nice commission, but trouble was lurking underneath like a thin dusting of snow.

The misfit toys, as it turns out, were being undercut by the ruthless, pick-wielding Cornelius. Not satisfied with their minuscule cut, the toys secretly created a side business, replicating their own model designs in China and selling cheaper versions of themselves on eBay and for cold hard cash, undercutting KMR altogether.

Unfortunately, the mighty KMR, without a dumb bone in his big cat body, discovered their clever rouse and did something oh so cruel. He shipped them all off to dollar stores.

Merry Christmas!

Side note: Although no one in the United States wanted a Charlie in the Box, preferring the standard Jack, the misnamed toy quickly became a huge sensation in France.

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