Anyway, I tried to avert my eyes from the dolls as much as possible, but much like the Necronomicon psychically inspires one to peek at the revelations within, my eyes were inexorably drawn toward the universe of Polly Pocket. "From mall-shopping to party-hopping!" barked the box, which contained a plastic Polly with a painted-on swimsuit and a rack of fashionable clothing and accessories. It was surrounded by other boxes of Polly Pocket crap. There was just something subtly horrible about all of it, from the Glamour Lounge to the Par-Tay Bus. Or maybe not so subtly.
Awful in an entirely different way was the Toy Barcode Scanner. Now as far as 'occupational' toys go, I can dig little dumptrucks and workbenches and I can almost see the interest in having toy cash registers - you play with money and numbers. But must we train our younguns to enjoy scanning barcodes? I mean, you see some little tyke using a plastic stethoscope on the family dog, and you can coo somthing inane like, "I bet she's gonna grow up to be a doctor." But how could you bring yourself to say, "The way she scans those barcodes, she'll be a WalMart trainee as soon as she can get a work-permit."
I had to pass by the cheapo microscope, even though that's precisely one of the ideas I had in mind. It had no instructions, which is pretty bad. Nor did it have any nifty samples to work on; how hard can it have been to tear the wings off a butterfly and stick them in the box? But the fatal flaw was the inclusion of a prominently displayed steel scalpel. My own eyes lit up when I saw it, so I hate to think of the mayhem that might result if it were in the hands of a child.