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We love when factories send us samples of things they think we'll like. For instance, this festive Shamrock Skull which we assume was designed to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The festive green and shamrock on the forehead would surely please anyone looking to celebrate their Irish heritage.
We won't be carrying it.
While searching for an image to use on our Zombie Mints tin in an old French anatomical book, Matt was shocked to find the drawing above. It looks just like our co-worker Gibson Holub. At first we all thought it was funny, but after watching the last season of Lost, we have a new theory. We think that this drawing, done in France in 1865, is incontrovertible proof that Gibson is about to travel back in time, join the Dharma initiative and then die for reasons that won't be explained until next season.
You have to admit, it is creepy to find a drawing of yourself with your brains exposed.
To celebrate April Fool's Day, Secret Fun Blog has dipped into their seemingly infinite supply of old novelty items to provide beautiful pictures and stories about the off-brand version of the all time best pranks. They're doing one a day for the whole month. Including this early precursor to our Emergency Yodel Button.
He also tells the story of the product that was the foundation of the novelty industry, Sneezing Powder!
If we're talking about the original sneezing powder, the stuff that was sold up through the 1940s, then we should call it by its real name– dianisidine chlorosulphonate. This substance was adopted by the Germans in WWI as a chemical weapon. They poured it into shrapnel shells and fired it at the French, but its use was discontinued because "it has only limited ability to create casualties on the battlefield..." (quoting Chemical and Bioligical Warefare by Eric Croddy)
We were excited about our new Cryptozoological Play Set, but also nervous about the reaction from those that study cryptids. Would we get the details right? Would they appreciate our take? Well, about ten minutes after it went up on the site, we got an email from someone telling us we got Mothman right!
Dear Archie Mcphee,
I was just looking around your site (Tends to cheer me up when I'm feeling down) and came across the new Cyptids play set.
But I was really surprised to see that, your Mothman, is designed from the witness accounts in the book! I've read the book many times over (And lost sleep over it), but have always resented the movie. Particularly for the 'Ukrainian Butterfly' thing. I'm Ukrainian, I ain't heard of no bad luck butterfly.
Even the tiny town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, couldn't get the design right. They erected a statue of 'The Mothman' (I believe after the movie was made) that clearly depicts a moth man. But it's not the Mothman. In fact, the statue looked closer to the Mothmonsterman in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force show than what witnesses described. The program that featured this did manage to get an interview with Linda Scarberry, but didn't ask her anything important.
So, props to you guys for having read the book!
Read or Die,
I have to agree with him about the book, The Mothman Prophecies, being amazing and scary. The movie is unwatchable and may cause your brain to explode, especially if you've read the book.
As a bonus, I thought I'd include this article we wrote for a fake newpaper on the back our our wholesale catalog.
Mysterious Mothman Sighting
Residents of Mason County are once again scared to go outside their homes after dark as reports of a red-eyed Mothman were made on Friday. Sightings of the Mothman usually go up in the spring, so it comes as no surprise to long time residents.
Local officials have voted money into the budget to set up a huge lightbulb on the edge of town in the hopes of drawing the Mothman away from populated areas. Mayor Duchovny said, "Last time he showed up he just walked into a supermarket window for an hour until someone turned the light out in the store. He's more irritating than dangerous."
Not so says Rebecca Serling who claims the Mothman is the father of her child, "If you think he's so harmless, just try getting him to pay child support so that Mothman Jr. can eat. All Mothman wants to do is sit around and drink beer all day and then bang into lightbulbs all night. What kind of life is that for a family man?"
It seemed like a good idea and a good product!
M5609 Torpedo $89.50
Fire one! Fire Two! Fire as many as you want!
This ROTC surplus dummy torpedo never held any actual explosives, but is looks like it did. With its sturdy metal and plastic construction and its length of just over 51" in length, this torpedo will give you years of paramilitary enjoyment. It makes a great car accessory, knick-knack, conversation piece or just helps someone relive their heroic ROTC days. The propeller on the rear was originally driven by a small electric motor that no longer works, but a handy person might be able to fix it, or you could just buy the book "Dummy Missiles for Dummies" and fake your way through.
In our book, we told the story of selling the torpedoes like this:
When we purchased a pallet of dummy torpedoes from the University of Washington Physics Department auction all we could think about was how cool they would look mounted on top of a car or hanging over a pool table. They never had actual explosives inside them and there was no danger of them being used for any military purpose because the insides had all rusted and rotted away into an orange dust. They sold well enough that we were looking around for more when we got a visit from a representative of the Department of Defense Intelligence Unit. He showed up in a smart business suit that subtly revealed a firearm hanging from a shoulder holster and informed us that the torpedoes contained a guidance system that was still classified as Top Secret. It turned out, that despite being over 20 years old, they were still more advanced than what some enemies of the U.S. were using. He politely insisted that we retrieve them from our customers — immediately.
We contacted all the customers and had them ship the torpedoes back to us (with a full refund of course). Most people responded immediately, but there was one exception. One customer refused to answer our calls and letters. Soon we were visited by another DOD representative, this time decked out in a black suit and sunglasses. He asked that we provide him with all the contact information we had for the customer. We complied.
Now, since the publication of the books, we have heard from that customer, Felix, and he sent us his side of the story. Excerpts of that story are below.
Several months later I got a call from XXX of the DoD Criminal Investigation Service. Real laid back easy going character, said he had been in the Navy and used the things as dummy targets, cheaper than anything else, and they were loaded up with noise makers to simulate real targets. He said there were classified circuit cards inside that the Navy wanted, and the torpedoes should never have been sold. They had been loaned to the U of Wash, who had sold them as surplus when they were done, instead of returning them to the government. The whole screwup had come to light when some idiot had asked Canadian customs if he could take it across the border. I told him he could have the contents, but it wasn't much, certainly no circuit cards, and I really wanted just the shell. He said he would look into the matter, since that seemed like a very reasonable things to him. He seemed a bit alarmed that I had opened it up.
Near the beginning of April 2000, he and another agent showed up at the office (where the torpedo had been delivered). I saw these two guys, they were in suits of course, looked like any ordinary couple of businessmen come to visit for some reason. The older one asked me if I was Felix, I said yes, and the younger one immediately whipped out this huge wallet (I swear the size of a sheet of letter paper) to show me his credentials. I laughed and said I don't need that, you must be here about the torpedo. In fact, I would have left about a minute later; I was just finishing up status email to my boss. They wanted the torpedo back, of course. I said it's not here, it's at home, 3 miles away, let's go! Not so fast, says Mr XXX (the older one), I have a letter for you. I took it and threw it on the desk, but he said I should read it. It was from two US Attorneys, with an all caps warning "HAND DELIVER", and warned that it had come to their attention that I was in unlawful possession of a torpedo, and that if I did not hand it over immediately, I would be under threat of criminal prosecution!
Anyways, they followed me home, I gave them the torpedo, and told them that my one regret was that they hadn't simply called up (like they had the first time) and said they wanted it back, because it would have been fun to walk into the Federal Building with a torpedo on my shoulder, and see the guards have a conniption fit. "Hi, I'm here to see XXX" probably wouldn't have been the magic phrase :-)
I figure I ought to ask for a copy of my record under the Freedom Of Information Act, just out of curiosity. I wonder how many thousands of dollars they wasted investigating Dutch Flat, sending two agents around, involving two US attorneys, and the immense bureaucracies it must have taken to drag the whole thing out over 6-9 months.
Alex, a 7th grader from Pennsylvania, sent us his science fair project in the hopes that we might find the results useful. You see, he spotted a design flaw in the parachute that lets Cap'n Danger drift safely to the ground. Although this same parachute did get used in our Skydiving Sigmund Freud product, we're happy that it's going to be corrected before our Baby Chute gets off the ground.
First, we have to applaud Alex for not only getting to use a parachuting chimp in his science fair project, but also getting to study people who died in parachute related accidents! As he points out in his research section, "If parachutes were faulty, or they were poorly folded, their users would die as they fell from hundreds of feet." That makes my science fair project about bean sprouts look positively wimpy by comparison.
First he gathered his supplies.
Cap'n Danger looks positively insane in front of that torpedo, doesn't he? It's like a simian version of Dr. Strangelove! Alex used the toy torpedo in the experiment because it had a more regular shape and weight than Cap'n Danger.
Cap'n Danger's parachute is a whole piece of cloth with no hole. Real parachutes have a hole. Alex's hypothesis was, "The smaller the area of the stabilizing hole the slower the speed of the parachute. The parachute must have a stabilizing hole in order to maintain stable position during the descent of the parachute." In other words, because the parachute has no hole in it, it would jerk back and forth too much to be used in real life.
To test this theory, Alex threw the parachute off of very high things. We can't say for sure from the picture, but it's possible he got to up on the roof of his school and throw a parachute off over and over again. How cool is that?
In conclusion Alex said in his letter to us, "I tested the effect that four different hole sizes on the top of the parachute had on the flight time and performance. The results of this research shows that the parachute with a 1 inch hole cut into the top of the parachute has the slowest and most steady descent. I would be more than happy to share the results of my project with you and hope that it will be useful for improving the performance of this toy."
Thanks Alex! If Cap'n Danger ever get sordered again, we'll make the change. And, you can sleep well, knowing that you may have prevented a serious chimp-related tragedy.
Back in 2005 Unicorns were all the rage. At least they were for us. We did the Avenging Unicorn and then decided to spin off the line in new and fantastic directions. Below are some of our unproduced designs. Perhaps, they will be made someday, but until then, they, like actual unicorns, exist only in our minds. (Click on the pictures below for larger version.)
Fairy Land is ruled by the Fairy Queen with an iron fist in a tiny velvet glove. The peppermint trains run on time, but at what cost? How many freedoms must an elf give up? Why are the dwarves forced to live underground? The Anarchistcorn wants to destroy the rule of fairy law!
Actually, we're located in Seattle, so the WTO protests probably influenced this a bit. Now, we'd probably put the unicorn in a V for Vendetta "Guy Fawkes" mask.
This is what we came up with when we imagined what mythic figure would come to collect unicorn's souls when they died. We tried it first with a hooded robe, but horns and hoods don't mix.
When trying to decide who would fight the Commiecorn, this was our first thought. It didn't quite work, but there's something appealing about a unicorn with a dollar sign on his rump. This would be the symbol of the First Bank of Fairy Land.
Rainbowcorn is just free to be who he wants to be! There was disagreement about this unicorn, some felt it should have the traditional star and rainbow on its side, but others felt the zebra stripe rainbow was the way to go. As it turned out, neither one was actually made!
This one came the closest to actually being produced until someone pointed out that unicorns get seasick really easily.
Luckycorn comes a little close to My Little Pony. Most people think of Ireland when they look at him, so it's all far too confusing.
We have no memory of why this unicorn exists or why he was supposed to be funny.
Get it? Corn Dog + Unicorn = Unicorndog. That's funny! Hello? Tap tap. Is this thing on?
One final bonus item, the unicorn steak. What would happen if you went to a butcher shop and asked for unicorn? What would it look like? Should we make a candy like that? This is what it would have looked like if we had.
The story of the Zombie Jesus is hotly debated by our customers. They accuse us of cleverly importing a Zombie Jesus and trying to market it as a production mistake. Even when we tell customers the truth, they tend not to believe us. So, I'm here to set the record straight.
It was a mistake. As the description said, the Jesus Action Figure was one of our best selling products and we wanted to duplicate the success with a Deluxe Edition. The sample we got was great, the actual product when it arrived was not OK. I wasn't the one that came up with the idea of calling it Zombie Jesus, but I was the one who thought some of our customers might want one. We set aside a few hundred of them to sell, the rest had to be fixed. (It wasn't the first production mistake we sold - the He/She Doll was our favorite.)
I got to go down to LA to appear on Attack of the Show! a couple of days after they arrived (August of 2005). So, I decided that in addition to the folks on our Cult Email list, I'd open it up to the geeks of the world. After my television appearance I learned two things. One, I needed a haircut really badly. Two, Attack of the Show! viewers loved Zombie Jesus. I had to grab more of them to sell.
Here are the original description and announcement of the Zombie Jesus in our Cult Email.
Production Error Jesus!
Here it is, our super secret stash of rare, Factory Mistake Jesus Action Figures. Let us take a moment to explain. We are doing a Deluxe edition of our Jesus Action Figure in a special "Miracle Edition." We made a new mold of the figure and asked the factory to make the palms of his hands glow-in-the-dark. Imagine our surprise when the figures showed up with evil red eyes and translucent glow-in-the-dark hands. Somebody (Satan? Beelzebub? Gary Busey?) really made a mess of things. Jesus looks like a zombie or a Sith Lord instead of a healer, teacher or Messiah. Obviously, we couldn't release a savior with the steely, ferocious glare of a damaged Terminator robot to the general public. That's where you come in! Before we send them back to be melted down, we thought we would give you, our best customers, a chance to buy one for your very own. These will only be sold until August 30th! We make no claims that this incredibly collectible piece will increase in value, but remember the Rocket Firing Boba Fett! Cha-ching!
FACTORY MISTAKE ZOMBIE JESUS - CULT ONLY OFFER
In addition to the librarian, we're also making a Deluxe Jesus Action Figure, but when we got our first shipment from the factory, they made a horrible mistake! Instead of the subtle glowing, healing hands we had asked for, the factory gave Jesus hands of shocking, bright green. And instead of the calm thoughtful eyes of a messiah, they gave him the red, evil eyes of a Sith Lord. Put the parts together and you have Zombie Jesus! This horrible and unfortunate mistake is being made available only for a limited time and only through this link! If you have a friend who might be interested, please pass the link along. There is no link to this page anywhere on our site! Web only! Cult only!
PS: If we did do it on purpose, it would have been a lot better. Just imagine the package!
Every once in a while we get samples from a factory that we didn't ask for. This company decided to show us what some of our catapult ammunition would look like in snow globes. The person who put them together had a great sense of humor, but we decided not to buy them. These are one of a kind samples.
First, a snow globe that features a gang of cats about to savage one of their own.
The three top cats are berserk with rage. The cat on the ground looks out at the person holding the globe as if to say, please help me, take me home and I will be a good, snuggly kitty. But, it's too late. The attack has already started. And, if you shake it, it will happen in the snow!
Which brings us to our next globe, Rubber Chickens sitting on fence.
These two Rubber Chickens are just chatting away. The first one says something like, "Dear Lord, we are trapped in a glass cage and submerged in liquid. Can this hell get any worse?"
Then the second one says, "Yes, the earth will begin to shake and then it will snow. Gee, this fence is uncomfortable. Maybe I shouldn't straddle it."
For the more serious minded, there's always the business people globe.
This one takes on special new meaning with the recent financial woes of Wall Street. We imagine these four poor souls standing outside their bankrupt brokerage house, unsure of what to do next as snow whirls around them.
How about four ninjas in a globe?
The battle is about to begin. Each is locked in a pose of readiness... Or! Shake shake shake!
No! It's not a fight. It's a ninja disco! These four black-suited dancing fools are busting a move as glitter falls from the ceiling of the club.
Perhaps that's all we need for world peace - a handful of glitter and an irresistable beat.