If John McCain really wants to protect America's Children, he doesn't need to ban all toys from China, just half of them: the $11 bn/year Yet Another Sorry Robotic Elmo market.
I can't tell--and I don't want to know--whether he posted it ironically, but Chris points to a video preview of this Christmas's slightly improved version of the original Tickle Me Elmo: Elmo Live.
Elmo Live was the star of Mattel/Fisher-Price's booth at the Toy Fair last spring. I like the clip above better, because it shows the wires hanging out of the still-in-development toy [Elmo Life Support?], plus Mattel's Always Be Closing CEO, plus the sycophantic press nitwits who applaud Elmo Live's performance, plus the lab-coated tech who I like to imagine as the desperate prisoner using Elmo Live's voice recordings to smuggle his plea for help out of the bowels of some top secret Mattel research lab somewhere.
See, "Elmo Live truly takes 'feature plush' and Elmo to a completely new level." Which apparently means a comedy club in Spokane. Elmo Live is deliberately programmed to act like a bad stand up comic telling stupid jokes. It makes outdated rap comments. It actually uses the phrase, "jazz hands." Which means a huge percentage of this "feature plush's" features are targeting, not the toddler who's supposed to play with it--and who wouldn't know a jazz hand from a poker hand--but the parent who is deciding to buy it.
Like the slightly animatronic, 10th anniversary TMX Elmo from 2006, which was designed to commemorate and re-create the original Tickle Me Elmo craze, Elmo Live seems cynical or desperate or both, an artificial attempt to convince parents to jump on some frenzied trend bandwagon, and buy some toy for some toddler who doesn't know or care what a frenzied trend bandwagon is.
If your kid loves Elmo so much it hurts, then by all means, get him one. Get him two. But unless he's some kind of Tiger Woods of Elmo, a 2-year-old feature plush prodigy who can quote make and model, then you don't need to wait or sweat over Elmo Live. Which, by the way, became available for pre-order yesterday.
Elmo Live will be the must-have toy of 2008 [moseleyworld.com]
Watch "jazz hands" plus a half dozen other intro videos at Wal-Mart [lbox.com/elmo]
Previously: Manipulate me, Elmo! Mattel press release reveals how Christmas sausage is made