Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Hello Kiddies! Today we’re going to check out a Pirate play set. Albeit, I’ve never really been a fan of anything pirate but some of the detail this toy had amused me enough to buy it.

The first thing I noticed is that I am unable to determine the company that actually made this toy. There is no company name or logo anywhere on the packaging. The only information I was able to find was that, as most of Dollar Tree’s products, it was distributed by Greenbrier International, Inc. The fabled Greenbrier International, Inc organization seems to be one of those Where's-Waldo-type organizations that deal only with Chinese or other foreign merchants and nearly impossible to find any information on. I did a few searches online but came up short.

I was able to find a thread about the company and a poster said:

“If anyone has luck finding out the contact info for "Distributed by Greenbrier International, Inc. Chesapeake, VA 23320. Please let me know. I do not think this company is accessible. Products are made in China. Somewhere there is several layers involved, which means no one may know anything and everyone will know nothing. Good Luck”

Well, as I read the entry above the realization hit me that by reviewing this I am placing my life in peril for you; my only friends and loyal reads… yes, I realize there are no readers… shut up… Anyway, given all the lead poisonings that have originated in China recently I was a little apprehensive to open the package. But screw it! I let my children play with similar toys all the time and aside from a couple extra limbs and the absence of pigment they’re all right.

Ahoy matey… or ARGH! Whichever; but there you have it. The ruthless captain in all his glory and ready to set sail in his plastic/wooden pirate raft in search for buried treasures and larger than life adventures. Oddly, our fearless captain has a freakish resemble to the beloved Sloth from The Goonies.

Unfortunately, Captain Sloth’s weapons of choice are cartoonishly disproportionate to his size. That freakin’ hand cannon alone would be enough to take over most of Libya with a single shot. That and the fact that Captain Sloth has what appears to be a sock puppet for a left hand explains the reason he sails around in a raft rather than a bonafide pirate ship!

The raft, which for a Dollar Tree toy is rather detailed and well put together, does have a rather cool pirate design on its sail. This is the type of pirate skull that strikes fear in the heart of the wicked!

Additionally the raft comes with enough detail which not only includes the two paddles but actual paddle “holes” (or whatever they’re called). Unfortunately the paddles do not fit through the holes or if they do I was unable to figure out how. Not that it matters since Captain Sloth’s raft is not buoyant and sank faster than the New Kids on the Block comeback.

Lastly we have the palm tree…. It’s a palm tree. Enough said.

Since Captain Sloth’s limbs cannot be moved at all, the weapons are ridiculously big, the raft does not float and he has a sock puppet instead of a parrot (or left hand) I’d say the chances of any kid having fun with this toy are as much as playing with a stick of incense. When I purchased this I noticed there were no additional Pirate sets which means Captain Sloth, Socko and any unfortuate kid who happens to get this will never find other pirates to play with.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009


DISCLAIMER: I want to resume this blog (I even added my girlfriend as an author so we can post frequently) and I am sitting in my office with nothing brand new to review; so I'm gonna review something I bought years ago at the dollar store. Trust me, it'll be a crappy review.

Working in a monument to corporate America it is usually unnecessary for me to buy any office products. Everything office-related you can possibly imagine is as readily available in my office as a wheelchair-bound prostitute in Tijuana.

But every now and then something so office-y unique and amazing beckons me. Must be the Aztec blood in me trading in gold for pieces of mirror; but despite the unlimited supply of multi-colored post it notes in my office I had to purchase Martin Designs' sticky notes the second I laid eyes upon them.

I've seen my share of "fancy" sticky notes in the past; everything from puppy dogs in pastel motifs to over-elaborate art nouveau which simply seem to be trying excessively hard (and failing miserably) at being unique.

The creative geniuses at Martin Designs followed more of a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe approach to their stationary masterpieces. The elegant simplicity of the design alone can definitely fool anyone into thinking these came from Sharon Luggage than my beloved Dollar Tree.

Enough of the aesthetics though. Performance, which I understand is more relevant than size, is up next. Well, it's a sticky note... and you write on it... And as far as that goes it serves it's purpose as well as any of it's over-priced counterparts. So, we're good when it comes to writing on it... I mean, just look at how perfect a job it does to remind me that should I ever be dumb enough to wipe out my printer from my laptop again "\\print01" is where I should look to reinstall it!

Or, for my conference call/web meeting log in info for when those pesky clients actually demand true customer service!

Unfortunately the problems begin when trying to actually post them somwhere. The bottom portion fell out over a year ago when I first tried to use the thing. Furthermore, trying to keep one of my fancy sticky notes stuck to anything for more than 30 seconds is an exercise in futility short of using clear tape... (note the pin in the picture above) which would defeat the purpose of a self-adhesive note.

I am unsure why these sticky notes have outlasted most of all the pets I've ever own. I bought them sometime in 2006 and I still have over 50 of each of the two designs.

OH! I visited the site printed on the back of the backboard only to find out that Martin Designs "It is the real estate mortgage loan vendor of the Japanese nationwide corresponding possibility" (I love Engrish) and not a stationary company as I originally thought. Go figure.

I think that it.... told you this one would suck...