M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, March 04, 2009  


Here's a photo of M. Edium with his new best friend.

It's a kit that he received for Christmas from his grandma. We started building it in early January. This photo was taken immediately after we got it together. Last week.

It's not as hard to piece together as it looks. It's actually much harder.

First of all, it's designed not by a toymaker, but a paleontologist. So it doesn't really meet child usability standards. I suspect his goal in creating the kit was to discourage young children from growing up and becoming paleontologists.

There are a number of reasons why this was a little too challenging for your average kid, and also for your average adult. Each piece roughly approximates one or more individual T. Rex bones, and is numbered from 1 to 48 in tiny raised characters that you can't read without carbon-dating. The "instructions," such as they are, barely deserve the name, consisting of a photograph of the assembled skeleton with a number and a line pointing to each little bit. And the first step in the construction process requires you to make the intuitive leap of attaching pieces 23-28 to pieces 33 and 35.

And that's just the conceptual challenges. Further difficulties are evident in the execution.

To begin with, the pieces don't snap together like you'd think. Instead, they're molded out of some kind of semi-flexible rubber that you sort of squish together. You can imagine that not all of the pieces squish together all that well. For each of the vertebrae, there are two little holes in front and two little rubber posts in back. At least one of them fits together on all of them, but not always both of them, so several vertebrae have wide gaps between them. If a real T. Rex had to try to walk around with a spine like that, he'd be paralyzed from the giant hips down. In fact, he'd be lucky to have the admittedly limited use of his tiny little arms.

Plus the little metal support rods don't go very far into the base, the giant three pound skull is held onto the neck with a poorly fitted ball-and-socket joint, the pelvis is slashed in half horizontally for some reason, and the "guide photo" turns out to have been flipped over into a mirror image by some genius at the print shop. It took several sessions with several grown-up visitors just to get separate sections assembled, but if M. Edium hadn't kept dragging the box out at every opportunity, it never would have gotten done at all.

But we did, and obviously I wanted to get a picture of it in its completed state, which obviously wouldn't last. I was expecting this to happen at any moment, because it had happened any number of times during all of the previous assembly attempts. In fact, I found a couple of extra ribs lying on the floor after the photo was taken. I hid them.

I know what you're thinking: real paleontologists have a much more difficult challenge trying to assemble real dinosaur skeletons from incomplete fossil fragments they've dug out of the ground. But unless I'm mistaken, their doctorates don't say "Six or older" on them.*

Here's the guy, by the way. They put his picture on the box.

I don't see how he expects people to be able to put this thing together when he can't even button his shirt.

* M. Edium sees that big yellow "6+" on the box as a personal affront to him as a four-year-old, and keeps trying to "punch it out" of the cardboard.

posted by M. Giant 7:03 PM 4 comments


I *love* the photo of the man out standing in his field (as my punning geology teacher would have said). ALso, I cannot believe you managed to finish putting it together - a true act of love. I'm glad you took a picture of it, so in the future, when M.Edium gets to be an older surly teenager, you can just pull this entry out.

By Blogger Unknown, at March 5, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

Wow, that is quite a project. I like the little kitty ears in the foreground. Looks like Dino is stomping on Kitty!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 5, 2009 at 10:19 AM  

We had a similar experience the Christmas before last, when we helped Santa acquire a triceratops skeleton model for our daughter (then age 4.5). This one was National Geographic brand and not quite as large as yours, nor were the bits very soft. Quite the opposite, actually - they were really brittle and hard (to simulate actual fossil bits, perhaps) and thus, the force required to jam the posts into the holes came with an extra level of fear that something would just shatter right off while assembling.

Come to think of it, I believe Hubby employed a judicious amount of Krazy Glue to get some sections together. That wasn't in the directions, either.

In the two years since Triceratops was first assembled, Hubby and I have had to repair fallen off bits more times than we can count (apparently Kiddo looked at it too hard every now and again, forcing it to break apart, because that is about all it takes) and eventually, I hid the skeleton, in its three separate pieces, hoping Kiddo would forget about it.

Woe was me when she found Part Four: Section of Ribcage and Spine in one of her toy cubbies some months later. Hadn't realized I was missing that bit.

We had much better luck with the "dig out your own dinosaurs" block and tools Paleontologist Kit. That one just involved Kiddo whacking the heck out of a block of some sort of chalk-like substance until little, fully assembled plastic dinos emerged triumphantly and whole. Those dinos are now part of her bathtub toy collection and the safety goggles that came with the kit are donned for all sorts of risky and potentially hazardous playing in her room... You can never be too safe when you're mixing My Little Ponies and Disney Princesses with the Jungle Book action figures and Safari Animals...

By Blogger Heather, at March 9, 2009 at 6:19 AM  

That is a labor of love! And from the get-go visibly more educational than the begged-for model my dad ended up assembling for my sister when she was roughly M. Edium's age: the Budweiser beer wagon, pulled by eight plastic Clydesdales.

I am mostly sure she coveted it for the horsies and not the shitty beer, though thirty years later I am still wondering what prompted Dad to indulge this particular whim for a kindergartener. Oh well. A++ parenting, all around!

By Blogger Kim, at March 9, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

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