February 7, 2006

Oyster Awards.

For hardest to open packages. The one that took the longest -- more than 15 minutes -- is American Idol Barbie.


SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

I think that a lot of that packaging does indeed have something to do with avoiding lost suits, though there's true irony in that it often causes injury. (There was a spike in Band-aid use around here, among the two adults, over the Christmas Holidays, as usual. Now there's a tradition for you!)

Yeah, yeah--I know we should blame the thieves and shoplifters for the need for efforts to prevent inventory loss, and hair-trigger lawsuit-filers for some of the others.

Still, sippican, I have to say the amount of packaging is very annoying and often overkill. And, as the writer points out, it too often comes with sharp edges.

No, son, you shouldn't play with knives or or run with scissors--or touch any packaged toys, cds or DVDs unless Mommy and Daddy check first.

Tibore said...

Wait... there's an American Idol Barbie??

Oh dear Lord...

Chris O'Brien said...

This is why I love The Althouse. My 2 biggest pet peeves in two different posts: radical chic and overpackaging. The commenters above handle Che well so let me chime in here - If I ever meet a Packagaing Engineer (they have whole college majors for this) I will attack him with the poultry shears mentioned in the story.

Growing up, I learned there was no Santa Clause because well into the night I could hear my Dad swear as he tried to assemble toys on Christmas Eve. Somehow, that has dissapated and things are easier to put together and come assembled and, even batteries are now often included.

But the toy industry had something waiting for us post-boomers. They encase toys in layer after layer of almost impenatrable crap. For a lousy toy car, they put 10 hardened twistysattached (often screwed or riveted!) to the bottom of MORE plastic - and wrap them so close to the toy u have to scratch it to extricate it!

Dave Barry on the same:


In recent years the toy industry, after consulting its lawyers, decided it's too dangerous to let children come into contact with toys. So the industry went to the Institute of Defensive Packaging, which is the outfit that made it impossible to open an aspirin bottle without a hammer.

For toys, the institute came up with a vicious system that involves attaching the toy to the package with dozens of nearly invisible twisted titanium wires, which are then covered with powerful adhesive tape, after which everything is encased in thick, weapons-grade plastic that, when you try to cut it with a knife - and, trust me, you eventually will - defends itself by turning into lethal shards that can slice through your arm like a machete through a Twinkie. And while you're grappling with this packaging, cursing and bleeding, your child is in your ear, asking, "When can I play with it when when whenwhenwhenwhenWHENWHENWHEN?"

Such is the power of child nagging that some parents are, incredibly, still getting through to the toys. So the Institute of Defensive Packaging is working on a new system: Soon, toys will be inside Lucite blocks like giant paperweights, so the child can only look at them and cry while the parent checks the Yellow Pages under "Acetylene Torch Rental." Homes will burn down; people will die. But that is the price we pay for safe packaging-

Amen Dave.

Sean E said...

I have some sympathy for sippican's position/rant, but packaging on kid's toys is really getting ridiculous. The airplane window-strength plastic is one thing, but how many freakin' wire ties does it really take to hold a four-ounce spider-man doll in place?

24 hours at a time said...

The best tool I've found is the Amazing OpenX: http://www.myopenx.com/home.htm. It cuts through the hard plastic shell like a hot knife through butter.

chuck b. said...

Cool, 24 hours! I just bought one. When they asked me "How did you hear about us?", I clicked "Althouse comments".

Packaging Diva said...

Is your package a candidate for the "oyster" award? According to
Consumer Reports, this is not a good thing. The March issue of
Reports lambastes the packaging industry for a variety of faults
in product packaging. It even identifies which packages they
consider to be among the worst. To its credit, the article does show examples of new and improved packaging of the so-called problem child packaging. Not surprisingly much of it revolves around the difficulty of opening and closing packages, especially clamshells. This is a notoriously thorny issue.

Consider these factors about your package to determine if it is an "Oyster award" candidate.

• Is your package so difficult to open that expletives are uttered during the process?

• Can a customer get cut by the packaging material while opening?

• Does opening the package require an additional implement such as scissors?

• Does your package have excessive twist ties?

• Will parents hate you after they have opened the package?

This isn't the first time problem packaging has surfaced. I always see stories on the subject after Christmas and the holidays. When I do I send the reporter a copy of my white paper, "A Bad Wrap for Packaging," in an effort to open some eyes. A couple of years ago, I even did a segment for NBC TV about the trials and tribulations of toy packaging. My role was to explain why toys are packaged in a particular manner. The piece ended
with consumers ripping and tearing their way through the boxes. Needless to say, despite my best efforts the package came out on the bad side of the equation.

Numerous new gadgets have surfaced to make it easier to open packages. The OpenX and the Pyranna, to name two, are
specifically designed to open plastic clam shells. If I were a
smart marketer, I would bundle one of the gadgets ($5-10 retail)
along with my product and solve the problem. With the opening
device available on the package, there would be no reason for
complaints about how hard the package is to open.

I get so tired of hearing about bad packaging. Sure, much of it
is difficult to open but guess what? The consumers drive the
issues about making the packages hard to open. They are concerned
with product integrity, tampering, pilfering, and counterfeiting
to name a few. These are just a few of the reasons the packages
are difficult to open. They have to be secure to protect the
product and keep it safe.

Knowing that the customer is always right, we must realize that
opening packages is an issue that needs to be addressed especially when we consider our growing population of those over 50.

The Packaging Diva

Rabel said...