Saturday, January 9, 2010

This Lite Brite's no bright idea

This is a personal review of the crappiest toy I've seen in a long time.

When I was a kid, I had a Lite Brite. I loved it. It was this big box with a tilted black screen that had holes in it. You'd plug it in to turn on the light and push the little pegs through the holes to make pictures. You could buy picture patterns on a black paper that was like construction paper, but I liked to make my own creations instead.

Here's what mine looked like (This photo is from Wikipedia)

I don't know what ever happened to that Lite Brite, but I came across a new version while I was Christmas shopping, and I got all excited, thinking Logan would love to make pictures on it like I did. There is a cube version that allows kids to make pictures on four sides of a box, or a flat-screen version. I couldn't find the cube anywhere so I got the flat screen one.

I had visions of Logan waking up Christmas morning to find the Lite Brite lit up under the tree with a special message on it for him.

So, After the kiddies went to bed, I opened up the new Lite Brite and set about writing Logan's message.

About 45 minutes later, I gave up.

First of all, this Lite Brite doesn't plug in. That's not even an option. You have to use D batteries, which means you will spend far more on batteries than the toy cost in the first place.

Luckily, I had some D batteries on hand.

Second, the new Lite Brite has a white screen, so I had to waste one of the few sheets of paper that came with it. On the old one, the black screen meant you didn't have to use the paper if you didn't want to. You could see your creations just fine. Less waste and fewer follow-up items to purchase.

As for the paper, it used to be like black construction paper, and it was easy to push the pegs through it. The new paper is thicker, glossier and it's very difficult to get the pegs in. I got very sore fingers on Christmas Eve, trying to write my message. Plus, the pegs don't want to stay in place once they're in. After writing "For Logan" on the Lite Brite, I stood it up and all the pegs fell out. I was NOT a happy camper. I had to re-do all that work, and really push HARD to get the pegs to stay in. Still, any slight bump would cause the pegs to fall out. As for Logan, he can't even puncture the paper with the pegs. It's just too thick. And he's four, which is within the age range noted on the box.

I could cut some construction paper to fit the screen, I guess, but it won't have the dots on it to show where to push the pegs through.

This new Lite Brite also has a holder at the bottom for all the pegs. A good idea in theory, until you try to open it. Unless you're extremely gentle and careful, all the pegs will come flying out. The holder sticks. It "rolls" out. A pull-out tray-style holder would have been more effective, I think.

So, anyway, I was really disappointed with this toy, and so was Logan. As a matter of fact, he tried it for about ten seconds on Christmas Day and got disgusted and walked away from it. I actually apologized to him for getting him such a dumb toy.

Last night, he tried it again, as he spotted it on the counter where it has been collecting dust since December 25. He didn't use any peper, which meant the picture was very hard to see thanks to the light behind it and the white screen. He had to lay it flat to use it so the pegs wouldn't fall out. Also, since it doesn't plug in and there's no on/off switch, he had to keep pressing the button every few minutes to light it up, because it keeps going off to "save the batteries." He was mad that he couldn't turn it off when he was done, too. Instead, you just have to wait for it to turn itself off.

I think Logan's creation pretty much sums up our thoughts on this toy. I about wet myself laughing when I saw this.

If you can't tell, it says "Not cool"

See how hard it is to see the picture without the paper?

I will be thinking long and hard before purchasing any more Hasbro toys. I don't know why they had to go and ruin a perfectly fun toy by cheapening it so much. I wish I had never bought it, and by the time I realized how bad it was, I had already punctured the paper and it couldn't be returned.

Hasbro, you should be ashamed. If you're going to continue to make the Lite Brite, you should bring back the "retro" version, or at least make it more user friendly.

If a 33-year-old can't make it work right, how is a little kid supposed to do it?


Mellissa said...

I used to love my lite brite- I would play for hours. So sad that they made it a piece of junk. I bet you could find an old on on ebay or Crags List.

Anonymous said...

Aww man! I loved my lite brite!! I bet it's still in one of the old boxes in the storage room. After seeing what they did to my beloved toy I'm definitely going to look for mine in the boxes and treasure it! hehe ;)