Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Baby’s First Cubicle
It’s the Young Explorer by Little Tikes!
What you get for a mere $2,600 is a large plastic housing for a CPU tower and flat-screen monitor in a kid-friendly desk-like display with huge side panels that resemble cubicle walls. It has a wireless card, decent computer specs, and several educational games.
In the company’s defense, those walls might in fact be awesome semi-surround sound speakers.
Now, surprisingly, my opposition to this toy isn’t based upon the silly notion that parents should teach computer skills to young children. Nor am I bothered by the fantastic expense.
Hey, if you have money to burn, what’s $2,600 among family? In the 1980s, spoiled rich kid Ricky Shroder had that awesome racecar bed on TV’s Silver Spoons. Today, a race car bed would run me $25 at a yard sale, $50 at a thrift store or about $300 new.
So, maybe 10 years from now all the toddlers will be strutting their mousing skills on discount play terminals. Except, how resellable is this toy? After 2 or 3 years the computer will be aging and by 5 years probably have some component fail, at the very least the clock battery. The software — if it’s even provided on discs — will be for an outdated operating system, making your savvy replacement of the CPU that much more difficult. And, just try getting a different model monitor to fit well in the display housing.
For me, durability of toys matter, not just for their life with my two kids, but for everyone who will use them afterward. Would I really pay $2,600 on a toy that may be thrown away in five years? Hey, maybe I’d buy a special computer, but not the big hunk of plastic.
I wish I’d thought up “baby’s first cubicle” as the mocking title for this toy, but unfortunately it circulated on social networks a few months ago under that moniker. So, I’ll give it a shot. How about, Baby’s First Blue Screen of Death?
My wife noticed the arms of the child in the photo fall well below the level of the mouse and keyboard. She calls it Baby’s First Repetitive Stress Injury.