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Mr. Squiggles Was The Triggerman

Thu, 12/10/2009 - 8:30am
by David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

So if I am shot, I shouldn’t bleed or die as long as the gunman doesn’t consider the way the bullet was manufactured to be legitimate, right?

Don’t tell me that I have to suck on a toy hamster to prove a point, but if I fall off the grid tonight, there’s a good chance that Mr. Squiggles was the triggerman.

I’m tardy to the Zhu Zhu pet party — the little I knew about it was my grandmother’s Thanksgiving Day description which, without context at the time, seemed to be a sheer sign of senility. “You know, the cute little hamster robot toy that all the kids are clamoring for.” 

Marketing genius of the day: whoever holds the Zhu Zhu pet account. After Meaghan described the robotic rodent fever to me yesterday, I still didn’t buy in. Marketers are more intense and kids are lazy. I’m going to start a guerilla playground-to-playground sales circuit with high-energy bouncy balls and high-octane yo-yos with string strong enough to cave dive.

I do see the allure of a pet hamster without the odor and inevitable funeral service. No need for a shoebox when dad steps on Mr. Squiggles; just make sure you remember where you stashed the receipt.

I’m not throwing out accusations. I just enjoy odd timing and not-so-subtle plays on words.

Monday we ran a story that crossed the AP wire on Saturday and hurled a potentially fatal accusation at Mr. Squiggles and his merry gang. It’s fatal for two reasons, a study found high levels of the chemical antimony on Squiggles’ nose and fur — vomiting, diarrhea and other perfectly inconvenient effects — and, though the hamster clan is out of stock at every retailer and getting hawked on eBay for an unbelievable markup, the news had at least caused potential customers to second-guess purchasing a toxic toy.

Three days later, the St. Louis-based manufacturer Cepia not only responds, but also fights with the feds [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)] in its corner.

The CPSC did not test the toy, but it came out and stated that the toy “is not out of compliance” with the U.S. toy safety law. Mr. Squiggles makes bail.

Note the language, it’s not necessarily in compliance, but it is certainly not out of compliance. A headline that makes everyone happy, so why bother reading on, right?

It’s not that the results were a false positive. GoodGuide used a “special gun” to shoot an X-ray through the toy and retrieve the reading. The claims fell apart because the method is not recognized by the CPSC when determining whether or not a toy is hazardous. The bullet from Mr. Squiggles’ assault rifle is still inside me, but it was made with a new alloy not recognized by the American Council for Common Sense (ACCS).

The CPSC doesn’t want to know how much antimony is inside; it tests for the level of heavy metal that would seep out if a child sucked or swallowed a toy. I am a bit confused at this point as well, especially since the initial report states that traces were found on Squiggles’ nose and fur. While the hamster looks a bit too big to swallow, who’s to say whether or not a kid is going to suck on the fur or kiss their favorite pet on the nose? Not me.

As an infant, I ate dirt and once mistook dog food for Cocoa Puffs. I stand by the latter; it was bagged nearly identically to every other generic cereal we had as kids. I also babysat a girl who simultaneously chewed her hair and the hair of her favorite doll, and I student-taught in a middle school with an English department full of toxic chew toys. Mr. Yuck would be terribly disappointed.

Don’t worry, the manufacturer performed independent testing and gave the CPSC the results, which it dubbed legitimate enough to confirm that “the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard.”

Why add popular to the statement? Clearly, it’s popular. You’re taking a stance on something you have yet to test yourself. No love for My First Purse (antimony), Maxus Helios (chromium) or the Laugh & Learn Laughing Farm (chromium) that were also cited in the report - though GoodGuide did give them a shout out in its release.

Why didn’t the CPSC test it yet? Mr. Squiggles’ soft fur coat allowed him to skirt.  

Because the hamster doesn’t have any painted surfaces, it is not subject to the heavy metal testing standards. Quick, someone throw some paint, fur is still potentially murder. I put a line in to the PETA offshoot looking for fair and equal treatment for robotic and/or stuffed animals, but they have not commented as of press time.

As Bruce Katz, senior vice president for sales at Cepia, said, “Mr. Squiggles has been exonerated.” I’m just happy I don’t have a kid looking for one in his stocking.

If you have any information that could lead to Mr. Squiggles’ arrest write to david.mantey@advantagemedia.com. Tipsters will remain anonymous.

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