Sunday, October 23, 2011

Design Flaw: Pounding Tower

Occasionally I have to think that the people who design toys have never had to spend any time anywhere near their creations being used by small children.

After working in childcare, I pretty much just instated a ban on all toys that require batteries about three seconds after finding out I was pregnant.

And if you are wondering why on earth I would have done that, you obviously have not spent enough time in a room full of toddlers all bushing buttons like crazy on numerous loud annoying things. Because it makes you want to kill yourself gives you a pounding headache and twitchy nerves.

Also, I read an article at some point during my pregnancy where someone tested the decibel loudness of an assortment of (battery operated) toys, both while being used how they were intended and while being held right up to the ear (as is a common thing for toddlers to do). The summary was that most were too loud sitting on the floor, and all were substantially too loud up by the ear. Thus I entered motherhood with a well developed paranoia of my children becoming deaf from a tickle-me-Elmo doll.

(I think I forgot that one when I was talking about various parental paranoid irrationalities.... tsk tsk, bad Marty.)

Now there have been a few exceptions along the way... musical instruments are allowed (and most don't even take batteries anyways), for despite the horrible and probably just as deafening cacophony they make, they are also a creative form of artistic expression which should be encouraged in little ones. (And besides, my kids can't become prodigies if they've never seen a musical instrument before, right?). We did receive a few large hand-me-down entertaining-of-toddlers toys that make all sorts of noises and music and have flashing lights and whatnot, which I probably would have been more morally opposed to if they didn't do such a great job keeping the small people entertained. (Yeah, I know, parenthood corrupts the very fiber of your being.) Things like Kristina's ride on horse do take a couple AAAs, to make neighing sounds when she bounces on it, and I did get Adrianna a light up sea horse that plays lullabies, but I see these as a (very) few reasonable exclusions to the no-battery decree (assuming only one is in operation at a time).

But then, every so often, we end up with a toy that was expected to a great, not-requiring-batteries play thing that should make everybody happy but ends up pissing off mommy to no end being slightly more of a nuisance than anticipated.

My mother got Adrianna this pounding tower toy for Kristina's birthday (yes that sentence is correct, and no, I don't understand Grandparents either), and as I had very nearly gotten one for Kristina back in her toddlerhood it was a pleasant addition to our fairly ridiculous toy arsenal.

Except that instead of just hammering the balls down it like was intended, Adrianna also greatly enjoys shoving whatever other small things she can find and fit through the holes into it.

Like the pinwheels and toy cutlery you can see in this particular example. 

And let me tell you, that stuff is a PAIN to get back out again since the tower does not come apart in the slightest.

Yep. Nice toy. Nice idea. Poor execution as it was clearly never tested by an actual toddler, otherwise they would have made a way to slide the plastic front panel off to aide in stuck toy removal.


  1. How did the toys I sent go over with the kids... and you? I know two of them made noise. =p

  2. Robin did exactly the same thing. I would pry everything out, then he would shove new and exciting objects in there. I'm sure it was good for his development to investigate toys of varying sizes and shapes, but it pissed me off and I hid it.