In my last post, I told you about the actual wild west theme park that was on sale in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog for $7 million.
But I don’t want you to think that Hammacher Schlemmer (motto: “Stuff you probably don’t need at the highest possible prices”) only sells big-ticket, cowboy-infested amusement parks. It also sells other ridiculous items, which I bring to you here for your enjoyment and possible shopping pleasure, especially if there are people on your gift list you really don’t like.
GUARANTEE: All of the following are real listings with the actual (although somewhat edited) descriptions from the holiday catalog, with my additional comments in italics.
The Leonardo Da Vinci Inkless Pen. $39.95. This is the inkless pen that replicates the precision and convenience of the Renaissance drawing tools preferred by Leonardo da Vinci. Using the silverpoint technique of scratching a stylus across treated paper, Leonardo created detailed anatomical sketches and other masterworks. This contemporary inkless pen achieves the same effect by using a specially alloyed metal tip that lays down a warm gray line similar to a pencil on virtually any paper. Disclaimer: Purchase of this pen will not enable you to create detailed anatomical sketches and other masterworks. Also note that you can lay down a “warm gray line similar to a pencil” by using a 10¢ pencil instead of a $40 metal stick.
The Levitating Bluetooth Speaker. $149.95. This is the gravity defying wireless speaker that floats in mid-air above its base. A magnet inside the spellbinding sphere is repelled by a combination of electromagnetic coils and permanent magnets in the base, a powerful opposing force that causes the speaker to levitate. This item is a Mike-Trout-worshipping kid with a baseball bat away from becoming permanently lodged in your patio window.
The Messless Chocolate Milk Mixing Mug. $17.95. This is the battery-powered, child-friendly chocolate milk and hot chocolate mixer that does a body—and a clean kitchen—good. It consists of a 16-oz. plastic tumbler that fits inside a Holstein-patterned holder with a trigger button on the handle. Mixologists simply add milk and chocolate syrup or powder to the tumbler, then press the button. A safe nylon whisk quickly whips up the bone-boosting beverage without creating dirty spoons, countertop spills, or the frustration of finding undissolved chocolate at the bottom of the glass. Yes, indeed, one of life’s great frustrations: undissolved chocolate. That’s even worse than that other frustration of trying to get your kid’s tongue disengaged from the safe nylon whisk, because you know your child will not be able to resist sticking his tongue in there while it’s spinning.
The Animated Praying Bear. $44.95. This is the animated bear that bows his head as he says a series of prayers. A faithful companion for a child that promotes a respectful, humble bearing, the bear bows his head and moves his mouth while reciting Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep before bedtime, punctuated by a pious “Amen,” and followed by a lullaby version of Jesus Loves Me that shuts off automatically after five minutes once a child is near to heavenly slumber. Each press of the bear’s paw plays additional prayers in succession. Three included AA batteries provide up to three weeks of rigorous devotionals. I suppose you’d have to buy one of these for each child you happen to have, because you wouldn’t want one going off to heavenly slumber while the other experiences hellish nightmares. And I’m wondering…just how rigorous does this bear get with its devotionals? Can I extend battery life by telling it to calm down a bit? Can I pray for it to just shut up? And, by the way, the Animated Praying Bear looks suspiciously similar to Merlin The Spell-Casting Bear, The Nightmare Before Christmas Reciting Bear, the Happy Birthday Singing Bear, the Storytelling Bear, and the Don’t Worry About the Monster Under the Bed Bear, all but the last of which are actual Hammacher Schlemmer items.
The Snow Fort Building Set. $49.95. This is the set of molds and tools that provide a winter warrior or snow queen with the materials needed to build a snow fort or ice castle. It includes molds for a castle tower, wall, windows, and doors, plus two sculpting spatulas and a snow-shoveling spade. The durable molds enable one to easily manufacture a row of snow castle walls and towers in a matter of minutes. Well, first of all, this does not provide the materials for a snow fort, unless it comes with actual snow. Second, the description is kind of sexist, isn’t it? Why can’t a girl be a winter warrior and a boy be a snow queen? Third, couldn’t they make more money selling this in Alaska as an Instant Igloo set? And fourth, the fort doesn’t seem to be offering much protection, does it? I think they need bigger molds…or smaller kids. Their fort doesn’t look like it would be a match for The 80 Foot Snowball Launcher ($34.95), another Hammacher-Schlemmer item.
The Spinning Spaghetti Forks. $29.95. These are the motorized forks whose tines rotate to twirl strands of spaghetti into the perfect neat bite. A thumb-activated button on the handle sets the prongs turning at 22 rpm, smoothly winding pasta into a mess-free mouthful, rather than fumbling awkwardly with a helper spoon or slurping up long noodles. Set of two. This is a great gift for the kid who survives the Milk-Mixing Mug. Let’s see…spaghetti in sauce spinning at 22 rpm…what could go wrong?
The World’s Smallest Quadcopter. $39.95. At only 1.1″ square, this is the world’s smallest quadcopter, requiring a launching platform no larger than the tip of one’s thumb. The copter is built with sophisticated circuitry, piezoelectric gyros, and accelerometers that provide superior in-air stability, enabling operators to perform turning cycles, figure eights, and banked turns indoors or outdoors on a calm day from up to 65′ away. Provides up to five-minute flight times from a 30-minute charge. This is a great gift for anyone who has ever thought there just aren’t enough gnats in the natural world. The good news is that, despite its small size, this thing is hard to lose; after all, how far can it go in 5 minutes?
The Indoor Flameless Marshmallow Roaster. $69.95. This is the indoor roaster that produces campfire-worthy toasted marshmallows without an open flame. Marshmallows are toasted over a stainless steel electric heater, making it safe and easy to use with children. Ideal for creating s’mores year ’round. I’ve actually written about this before, in a post about stupid, single-function kitchen appliances like churro makers. Why not save the 70 bucks and roast your marshmallows after you set your animated prayer bear on fire?
Finally, the holiday catalog includes over 20 different types of Christmas trees, some of which are real, formerly-alive trees. But there are also pull-down trees, pop up trees, pre-decorated trees, pre-lit trees, trees made entirely of light, trees that are animated with Disney characters, and trees designed by world-famous schmaltz artist Thomas Kincaid. And then there is this, possibly the only item in the catalog I might consider ordering (even though I’m Jewish): the truly pathetic Charley Brown Musical Christmas Tree to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the classic TV special and let everyone who visits your home know that, when all is said and done, the holidays really make you kind of sad.
See you soon.