As I’ve mentioned previously in this column space, I have an “in” with Santa this year, so I’m privy to all kinds of North Pole news that might otherwise go unreported.
Which is why I can sadly announce that the following items are heading back to Claus HQ, mere days after they were placed under Christmas trees across North America…
Richmond Council Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Selling points: By updating the popular duelling droids and giving them the faces of Richmond Warden Brian Marchand and his predecessor, District Five councillor Jason MacLean, the manufacturers hoped to introduce impressionable young tykes to the optimistic, collaborative arena of municipal politics.
Reasons for recall: Robots proved more combative than expected, particularly when children used the voice commands “sundry account” or “food banks”; packages arrived without CAO Kent MacIntyre robot, after other Richmond council robots ousted him and took away his office keys in a surprise robot uprising; Marchand and MacLean frequently switched their Warden position, making it difficult for children to tell one apart from the other.
L’il Andy Scheer Dress-Up Doll
Selling points: The wide-eyed, apple-cheeked Conservative leader seemed perfect for the doll world, so manufacturer Con-Serv-A-Toys figured little ones would delight in a smiling political figure outfitted with the entire wardrobe of a typical election campaign, from navy-blue suits to dark-navy-blue suits.
Reasons for recall: L’il Andy’s costumes came without outfits for Pride Parades; recipients were confused when doll packages came accompanied with play money for L’il Andy’s kids to attend Ottawa private school. (Note: Item discontinued as of December 2019.)
Northern Pulp Mini-Mill Play-Set
Selling points: The folks at Paper Excellence decided to launch this whimsical do-it-yourself look at the joys of papermaking, including a tiny pipeline designed to empty imaginary pulp waste into the nearest fishing grounds.
Reasons for recall: Pipeline came without full Environmental Impact Assessment; Mini-Effluent Treatment Plant kept leaking on Mini-Indigenous Community and will be discontinued after January 20; nearly 2,700 Mill Worker Figurines were left scattered on the floor after manufacturer abruptly announced play-set’s cancellation just before Christmas.
Justin Trudeau Make-Up and Costume Kit
Selling points: Absolutely none.
Reasons for recall: What? Seriously? Do I have to explain this joke? Let’s move on…
Alana Paon In-Action Figure
Selling points: Tiny tots in Cape Breton-Richmond learned all about the ups and downs of provincial politics as they took toy-sized Alana to her very own office (sold separately) and her seat in the provincial legislature (also sold separately).
Reasons for recall: Alana Paon doll was not properly shipped for half of the legislature’s fall session, leaving several kids (and their parents) searching frantically for their MLA; mini-office play-sets came without wheelchair access; mini-legislature seat was removed from Tiny Tories product line in June, resulting in an inferior, colourless replacement; Alana Paon dolls inexplicably burst into flames when placed near Speaker Kevin Murphy dolls.
Talking Don Cherry
Selling points: The exciting world of professional sports broadcasting was only as far away as a Christmas stocking for kids who got the “suddenly-available” version of Grapes, who regaled them with their favourite classic Cherry catchphrases.
Reasons for recall: Kids who pressed the “You People” button under the poppy on Don’s chest were suddenly treated to a never-ending racist diatribe; the sheer number of Cherry’s garish suits (all sold separately) made it cost-prohibitive for parents to keep outfitting the toy; after years of being packaged with the Ron MacLean talking doll, which usually responded with a thumbs-up to most of Cherry’s commentary, the two dolls went their separate ways in November.
Jody Wilson-Raybould Dream House
Selling points: A miniature version of the former Justice Minister’s newly independent Parliament Hill digs seemed like the perfect gift to inspire a new generation of whistleblowers…
Reasons for recall: … Until, of course, the “Li’l Jody” doll refused to be removed from her former cabinet-minister playset and sit in the back of the House of Commons. The Wilson-Raybould figurine also proved incompatible with Li’l Justin Trudeau doll and L’il Gerry Butts doll (no longer available).
Republican Senator Slinkies
Selling points: With impeachment hearings bearing down on them, the Grand Old Party decided to show their flexibility to the voters by attaching their names and likenesses to the long-running spring toy.
Reasons for recall: Instead of whimsically making their way down the steps of Capitol Hill, the GOP Slinkies instead slunk off to Mar-A-Lago to party with Donald Trump; GOP Slinkies tended to get tangled up with National Rife Association dolls and, in extreme cases, L’il Nazi Figurines; the GOP Slinkies were too easily-manipulated by the president and his backers, when all we really needed from the Republican Party was some semblance of a backbone.
Better luck next time, kiddies. I’ll keep working on The Big Guy – we’ve got 12 whole months to figure this out!