Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Own Cabbage Patch Craze

I remember from 25 years ago the Cabbage Patch craze.

I was in my early 20's and didn't know many people with small children. But every night on the news there was a story that someone had heard from a friend of the aunt of a coworker who had overheard a loading dock worker from the Sears across town say that a load of Cabbage Patch dolls were due in. Within hours the parking lot was jammed and hundreds of parents, decidedly short on Christmas spirit, who pushed and shoved their way into the store to find only 10 dolls have arrived and had long been sold.

There were stories of tearful children, distraught parents and frazzled store managers. Heartbreaking stories of sick children who just wanted a cabbage patch doll under the tree that Christmas.

Many Christmases since then a hot item eludes parents, and I think is completely responsible for the growth of eBay and Craig's list. I think Tickling Elmo had his turn in the spot light. Some years it's been gaming consoles for the bigger "kids". All the while I have quietly been thankful that we are not part of that craze.

My kids have never really asked for a lot of things. This suits my semi-control freak nature that makes me want to pick their gifts. And they certainly haven't asked for the things that I can't get. Until this year.

In about September, my kids started, quite without my noticing, watching channel 50, Teletoon. It's a kids' channel but it has advertising. And you can just bet that they are advertising toys ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME. I then realized the reason my kids didn't ask for a lot of things is they watch TV with no commercials and I was kind of fastidious about hiding the Toys R Us flyers and the Sears Christmas catalogue.

S saw this Mermaid Barbie that she had to have. I have Barbie issues and have, until this year, avoided Barbies. She has a few princess dolls that look like Barbie, but Barbie, was not on the packaging, so not, in my judgment a real Barbie. For her 5th birthday though, I relented and we bought her a Mermaid Barbie. I justified it as a bath toy. I have since realized that while it is a bath toy, Barbie's locks really need a lot of detangler and I have spent way too much time trying to untangle her hair.

About a week after her birthday S informed me it wasn't the Mermaid that she wanted but the slide. J joined in her crusade. Every time the commercial came on I was summoned to the TV to see "what she really wanted for her birthday". S was willing to wait until she turned 6 but her brother was kind enough to point out that Christmas came a lot sooner than her next birthday.

The pair were steadfast in their requests and so in about early November I decided I better try to make this happen.

So a few google searches told me two things. First it is called the Barbie Mariposa Mermaid Bath Play Set. Second it is not available in Canada.

And so began my daily searches for the BMMBPS. I could find it listed at Target, Toys R Us in the US (but not in Canada) and a handful of other smaller sites. But it was "unavailable" "not in stock" or "sold out" everywhere. Who knew that Teletoon has such influence over the buying public?

I actually checked out a number of toys and department stores in person just in case they were secretly hoarding inventory but either I met a bunch of clerks with fabulous poker faces, or it really wasn't available.

Husband, who fully supported me in this endeavor, suggested I try eBay. And I did find a few of our precious commodity. But it was listed for $50, highly inflated over the list price of $15. And that was in U.S. dollars. Earlier in the year that would not have made much difference but those that watch the world currencies will know that the Canadian dollar sunk in November to the lowest in a long time. Add to that handling, shipping and potentially a $15 UPS Custom's broker fee, we were pushing $100 for a $15 toy. My in borne cheapness all but eliminated this option. But I did decide I would check the reviews to see if it just might be worth it.

The reviews universally came in at one star out of five. It is cheap, does not stick to the side of the bath tub as advertised (so Barbie can slide into the tub) and the consensus was it was not worth the $15. Certainly not $100.

And so I began my Christmas shopping in earnest. If I couldn't get the Girlie Goo what she wanted I had to get her something fantastic (not necessarily expensive) which would make her forget about the BMMBPS. And while I was at it, I'd better get the J Boy something great as well. Within days I had a list mapped out.

One morning, I was doing a routine search for something else and guess what popped up on the Toys R Us Canada site?? The BMMBPS!!! It showed "unavailable", but at least it was listed. I called the toll-free number and the attendant told me it was not available on line this Christmas. Hopes dashed.

"Are you near a Toys R Us location? We will be selling it in stores".

Oh happy day. As it happens, the Toys R Us I had just visited days ago, had the BMMBPS in stock. Seventeen of them to be exact. And one of them is already under our tree. (But I think S has entirely forgotten about it, which is another lesson to me for next year.)

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