Monday, January 21st, 2008
Review: Kid-Designed Plush Missing Monsters
Here is a children’s product that is a joy to tell you about.
Missing Monsters are plush creatures created according to parameters defined by your child. Deanna Miller, a trained monster recovery specialist (and art teacher), does the sewing.
Step 1: Fill out a Missing Monster Report (order form) on Deanna’s website, loosely defining what your monster looks likeâ€”Â€Â”two colors, its shape, number of eyeballs and ears, and so forth. I sat down with my 3-year-old daughter and asked her each question. If the report form is too restrictive, e-mail Deanna a detailed account.
(Deanna tells me her website will be redesigned in a month. The current one is a little rough, but still quite functional.)
My daughter described her monster as blue and pink and looking like "a pig head with cat ears" that is shaped like "a big fat circle." The monster has two eyes, two ears, one tail, one horn and two bellybuttons. Its personality is "happy" and its name is "Monster Pig."
Furthermore, Monster Pig "scares away big trucks that are going to squash us by singing really loud and so the driver knows not to squish us." And from that, Deanna starts the creation process.
Step 2: Get e-mailed directions for paying the recovery fee ($30 and $10 shipping) via credit card via PayPal (you do not need a PayPal account). Or if you prefer a road trip, you can pick up your monster at your choice of monster shelters located in Richmond, Virginia.
Step 3: Deanna calls your home and asks to speak to your child by name. She delivers the good newsâ€”Â€Â”your monster has been found and will arrive in the mail soon!
It was fun to listen to the call because at my daughter’s age, her phone conversations are almost a game of free association. When Deanna asked how she would take care of Monster Pig, my daughter launched into a stream of consciousness about her 4-month-old "new" bed and the stuffed animals that reside there.
Step 4: A box labeled "HANDLE WITH CARE" and "MONSTER INSIDE!" arrives. We submitted our missing report on November 30th and despite the holiday crush, it arrived (as guaranteed) before Christmas on December 17th. We chose to hide the box and bring it out Christmas morning.
Inside the box we found:
A pink "found" flyer containing the basics of our daughter’s monster description.
That’s her Monster Pig, right down to the double belly buttons. He has a tail on his backside, too.
For an optional $5, we received a 4"x6" photo and handwritten note in a manila envelope marked "confidential." The note dovetailed nicely with our daughter’s description in the initial missing report that mentioned her Monster Pig sings to loud trucks. The note reads:
"I found Monster Pig at the playground. It was singing really loud to the toy truck. I think Monster Pig really misses spending time with you. It has not stopped talking about what a great friend you are. Take care of your monster and keep singing! Thanks."
Why Missing Monsters Rock
Last year I profiled the critically flawed FAO Shwarz Make-Your-Own Monster service. First, it costs $250 (oh my!). Second, your child has to be old enough to draw a coherent monster. My daughter can draw basic shapes, but I bet she would be uninterested or even embarrassed at age 5, 7 or 10 to own a pathetic looking monster she crudely drew at age 3.
Missing Monsters are the exact opposite. They are inexpensive for a custom made plush animal. They look fun and cool. And, they are an experience that is accessible to a much younger age group. My daughter had input into what the monster would look like, and when it arrived, the monster became what she imagined. To her, she saw what she had described. It was her monster.
- Front page of Missing Monsters
- Slideshow of found monsters
- Flickr account for Missing Monsters
- Blog for Missing Monsters
- MySpace page for Missing Monsters