If you’ve ever been broke, chances are you know what a dollar store is: it’s a store where everything is one or two dollars and under, but where the Cheerios might still have a Dark Knight Rises tie-in. National chains like Dollar Tree and Deals usually carry well-known products or simple off-brand knock-offs. If you’re lucky, however, you live near a locally-owned dollar store like I do, and you’ll find that without the constraints of a national reputation to uphold, these places can sell some awesomely weird products.
Here’s a good example of how strange and unpredictable my local dollar store’s inventory is: I went there one day and suddenly their Crest toothpaste had labels in Mandarin. Another time, they were selling a small stock of Korean Duracell batteries. Keep in mind there isn’t a local Asian community they’re catering to–products with foreign labels appear at random and are never restocked. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s weird, right? Plus I realized I was immediately distrustful of the Chinese toothpaste, which is an unsettling way to discover you’re a racist.
But the most bizarre part of this dollar store is the toy aisle. Every toy is a cheaply-made testament to what can be produced with an extremely low budget when you disregard both international trademark law and the idea of children having fun. Buying a toy from this aisle is a tacit admission that you forgot about the birthday party until the last minute. Here are seven of the best toys our dollar store has to offer.
Super Robot Robots
The Super Robot Robots are an elite mechanized crime-stopping team made up of “the yellow one” and “the green one.” This is an excellent gift for a child who wants a Transformer but doesn’t have the guts to call you out on your passive-aggression.
The packaging claims that Super Robot Robots are “more funny to play!” That’s not true unless you exclusively find humor in disappointing children with cheap toys, and if so, congratulations! They’ll probably name your very specific disorder after you.
Horrible Ketchup Spill
To stare into the eyes of the clip-art woman on this package is to experience true, unimaginable terror. Ketchup spills have somehow been at the heart of every tragedy she’s ever experienced. She thought she was through with that part of her life, and then she walks in and sees this on the table. The pranksters who thought they were just playing a funny trick with some fake ketchup probably had no idea the condiment-related torment she has been through. Horrible ketchup spills are ruining her fucking life.
What’s crazy is that they sell two different versions of gag ketchup spills at this store, and both packages feature a person reacting like they thought it was a packet of their beloved dog’s blood. I just don’t get it. I’ve seen countless packets of real fast food ketchup smeared across McDonald’s booths and not once have I reacted by pawing at my own face in abject horror. A small condiment mess is, at worst, a minor inconvenience, and this is only a fake version of that. A dollar is a lot to spend just to hear your friend say “So I don’t need this paper towel?”
All the high-fashion of an insurgent militia!
Deformation Warriors Motorcycle
“Deformation Warriors” is a name with very unfortunate implications, but it’s sort of inspiring to think about how they overcame their various limitations to start the unlikeliest of biker gangs. Also, holy shit, did you notice the tiny champagne bottle? I like the lesson this implies: that drinking and operating a motor vehicle is fine as long as you stay classy about it. According to the packaging, three-years-old is the earliest appropriate age to give your child a birth defect-themed motorcycle with a tiny bottle of booze. Seems legit.
Extreme Sport: Run Like Split
This is an absolutely true story: when I first saw this toy in the store, it didn’t even occur to me that there was anything mistranslated about it. I was just curious what “RUN LIKE SPLIT” meant in motocross slang. Going really fast? Doing that split-leg maneuver in mid-air? An allusion to Split Johnson, the Deformation Warrior who used to be a conjoined twin?
I looked it up and it doesn’t mean anything. This motorcycle wasted my fucking time.
The phrase “Funny Beauty!” appears in the bottom-left corner; either this is some inexplicable feature of TOYS, or these are replica props from Funny Beauty!, a Japanese game show that features clowns in bikinis shooting at each other.
…Wait, didn’t that first toy’s package describe it as “funny?” Huh. It’s somehow starting to make sense now. Maybe all these mistranslations really do have a logic you can follow, almost as if—
Latest Fashion Style Robot
I have twisted this name all around in my head trying to figure out what phrase they gave their underpaid translators to came up with the English “Latest Fashion Style Robot.” I have nothing. The only thing I can assume is that this really is a fashionable robot. And you know what, if that’s the case, good for him. It can’t be easy to pursue an interest in fashion when there’s so much pressure to join the Super Robot Robots.
Several months after I took the picture above, I returned and realized that sadly, the original Latest Fashion Style Robot was nowhere to be found. In his place, however, was this:
I don’t know what it is about this new Latest Fashion Style Robot, but he seems like he doesn’t give a fuck. I think it’s because he turns into a brightly-colored fighter jet, which isn’t even a thing that should exist. It’s like his only programmed commands were “CONFUSE” and ” MURDER.” Even if he’s made out of cheap plastic, that’s an awesome level of robot insanity. Maybe his packaging is right. Maybe this really is the best gifts for the children.