Review: Kid-Designed Plush Missing Monsters

Here is a children’s product that is a joy to tell you about.

Photo of my daughter holding Monster Pig and a close-up of the pig's face. The pig is shaped like a round pink pillow with a blue face and a pink pillow snout that pops out of his face, plus two blue horn-shaped ears and a lighter blue horn on the top of his head. He has two blue floppy feet and a thing blue tale on his backside. And he sports a big smile.

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 like—€”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 news—€”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.

Photo of a cardboard box labeled HANDLE WITH CARE and MONSTER INSIDE.

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:

Photo of a pink flyer that reads: FOUND: MISSING MONSTER! My monster is blue and pink. It kind of looks like a pig. It has 2 eyeballs and 2 ears. If you come across it, you should know that its personality is very happy. It answers to the name Monster Pig, and the last place I saw it was singing loudly. ENJOY!

A pink "found" flyer containing the basics of our daughter’s monster description.

An overview photo of Monster Pig and two close-up photos.

That’s her Monster Pig, right down to the double belly buttons. He has a tail on his backside, too.

Photo of a manila envelope, a photo of Monster Pig at a playground with a yellow toy truck, and a handwritten note that reads: FROM THE OFFICES OF MISSING MONSTERS! 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!

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.

Night vision photo of my daughter sleeping in her bed while hugging Monster Pig.


5 Responses to “Review: Kid-Designed Plush Missing Monsters”

  1. addie says:

    How. Incredibly. Cool. This is by far the best product I’ve seen reviewed on this site. It’s a fantastic, homegrown idea that sparks your kid’s creativity and imagination. Until they can start sewing their own monsters/animals/plush toys, this has got to be the next best thing.

    My kiddo’s only a year, but I have a feeling he’ll have a monster go missing soon enough!

    Great idea, Deanna!

    January 21st, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  2. Lisa says:

    Ohmahlordy, Little Miss is SO. DARN. CUTE. !! And yes, her missing monster is adorable, too.

    I love this missing monster found concept. It’s original and personal and not disposable (like everything else being sold in stores today). Ten thumbs up!

    January 21st, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  3. Naomi Shapiro says:

    Oh that is so insanely cool!

    January 22nd, 2008 at 5:48 pm

  4. Samantha says:

    That is such a wonderful idea! I can’t wait till my little one is old enough to participate in the process! Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    February 5th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  5. Miranda Stevens says:

    this is such a great idea….I love it!!!

    March 6th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

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