Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Damn My Lack of an Engineering Degree!

I have spent a great deal of my life, admittedly too much, playing with toys.  Having two sons with similar interests to mine (with no tampering by yours truly) only serves to add to the total hours of play time.

My wife has always been very active in playing with our sons, but said play time did not rely as heavily on the inclusion of their toys as my time with them did. Recently she has become more open to the joy that their toys have to offer.  The glory that is Nerf has opened her eyes.  Despite her new found fervor for foam dart combat, my wife would still need to outlive me by approximately thirty-seven years in order to put in the equivalent amount of time I have playing with toys.

But I must say, what she lacks in time put in, my wife makes up for in creativity.  She approaches our sons' toy collection in a serious manner.  Well, as serious as you can take bright yellow molded plastic guns, Lego bricks and rubber bouncy balls while still having fun with them.  What I mean is, she doesn't roll her eyes and dismiss what my boys classify as their favorite toys.  Rather, she looks for unique ways to enhance their experience with the toys that have lasted the test of their short attention spans.

The most amazing display of this has already been seen by regular readers of this blog.  I speak of the Nerf arsenal on our basement wall.  If you haven't seen it, take a look at it here.

With the amazing success of our Nerf wall fresh in our minds, we saw a commercial for a new product from Hot Wheels called Wall Tracks.  In case the name doesn't paint a clear picture for you, perhaps because your grasp on the English language is less than remedial, allow me to explain.  They are Hot Wheels tracks that attach to the wall.  Got it now?

I think this is an awesome idea with a lot of potential.  The most important aspect of the Wall Tracks system is not the tracks themselves, but the specially fitted wall brackets that allow the tracks to be easily hung on a wall.  But it also kind of upsets me.  Why, you ask?  That is so very thoughtful of you.  I didn't know you cared.

Ahem, anyway, this upsets me because my wife had precisely this idea about two years ago.  She recognized that our sons love Hot Wheels and knew it was a classic toy that would last the test of time.  She then thought it would be awesome to run a Hot Wheels track down the wall of our stairway.  The next logical step was to inform me that there was to be a Hot Wheels track down our stairway and that I was tasked with the construction of it.

I fumbled with various materials for some time and eventually settled on a combination of wine bottle corks, nails and paperclips.  The result was a set of contraptions protruding from our wall that reminded one of Frankenstein and which were probably just as dangerous and unpredictable.

The track lasted for a few days full of test runs, including lots of adjustments.  Eventually, however, it caved beneath the repeated weight of the die cast cars rolling down.  It became abundantly clear that the laws of physics were my better.  No amount of tinkering and redesigning on my part could make the stairway wall track work.

The missing piece was the perfectly molded wall bracket and now, Hot Wheels has beaten me to it.  Sure, they sort of make the product that we were trying to construct something to accessorize, but I'm still a bit disappointed in myself.  I feel like I let my wife and sons down.

You won this round, Hot Wheels.  But I'll be back.  First, however, I ought to try to develop and patent a specific Nerf mounting system.  The first logical step is to open up a metal shop where I can create molds for plastic pieces.  Guess the boys will have to move their beds into the basement.

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