“Educational Toys Review,” by Stan Dryer

Aug 23rd, 2023 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Once again, the Educational Toys Collaborative is publishing its review of new educational toys and kits now on the market. As before, we have tested all of the kits and make suggestions as to potential hazards or possible improvements in each case.

1. Nuclear Power Plant Construction Kit. This kit, sold by Nuke-All Inc., provides all of the materials and complete instructions so a child can construct a working miniature nuclear power plant which produces sufficient power to operate small electrical appliances. Our test team was able to construct the power plant and successfully operate a small electric fan with the power output. However, they noted the following possible hazards with the kit.

A. The heavy lead-lined lid of the box containing the fuel rods has no brace to hold it open and could easily drop on a child’s fingers causing serious injury.

B. The hazmat suit provided is of flimsy construction and will probably experience leakage after being used two or three times.

C. The connecting studs on the high-voltage transformer are sharp and could cut a child’s fingers when attaching the power wires.

D. The instructions as to what to do in the event of a meltdown are sketchy and need to be expanded.

2. French Revolution Reenactment Kit. This kit sold by Historiplay Inc. allows a child to reenact the major events of the French Revolution using small dolls and a miniature guillotine. Our test team felt it would provide a full educational experience for a child who carefully followed the instructions. They did find the following possible hazards with the kit.

A. The wooden handled of the file provided for sharpening the guillotine blade was made of rough wood which could result in splinters in a child’s hand.

B. The glue provided for reattaching the heads of the Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette dolls to their bodies contains toxic ingredients which could be a hazard if swallowed by a child.

3. Make-Ur-Own Nitroglycerine Kit. Sold by Sky-High Chemicals Inc., this kit provides all of the chemicals and instructions necessary to permit a child to make up to a quarter of a cup of nitroglycerine. The only additional equipment needed is the family refrigerator where the final product should be stored. The instructions provide a number of imaginative ways the nitroglycerine may be used. Our test team successfully produced the explosive and used it to demonstrate its effectiveness on a little-used local bridge. However, they did find the following problems with the kit.

A. Some of the laboratory glassware in the kit had sharp edges which could cut a child’s hand.

B. The straps on the toxic fumes protective mask are not attached securely to the mask and may break loose during use.

C. No way is provided for attaching the warning sign provided with the kit to a refrigerator door.

4. Free Soloing Wall Climbing Kit. Sold by Fun=Experience Inc., this kit provides all of the equipment needed to introduce a child to free soloing climbing. All that is additionally needed is a brick or stone building at least two stories high.

We hired four young children to test the kit using a local three-story brick building. Based on the results of this test, we have the following comments.

A. Make sure the local fire department has a hook-and-ladder truck with at least a fifty foot ladder.

B. The toe clip-ons which turn ordinary shoes into rock climbing shoes do not attach quite firmly enough to shoes and may come loose after some use.

C. Make sure your child is covered by a good accident insurance plan.

D. The optional safety-net should be made a mandatory part of the kit.

5. Remember-the-Night Titanic Sinking Reenactment Kit. This kit is sold by Ice-Crunch International. It is complete but requires that a large home (or commercial) freezer and a swimming pool be available for a full reenactment. Our test team tried out this kit and found it accurately reproduced the Titanic tragedy. They did find some problems with the kit as follows:

A. The iceberg mold is so large it is difficult to fit in a typical home freezer even after all of the food in the freezer is removed.

B. There is no way to recover the model Titanic after it sinks to the bottom of your swimming pool other than a hazardous underwater dive to retrieve it.

C. The recording of Nearer My God to Thee that enhances the performance of the model band members failed to work on our second attempt at a reenactment.

D. For this expensive a kit, more than three lifeboats should have been included.


Stan Dryer is the pen name for an author who lives in southern New Hampshire. He has had 16 short stories published in a number of magazines, including Fabula Argentea, Mystery Magazine, Adelaide Magazine, and Write Launch. The author is an active member of Mystery Writers of America. To read some of Stan’s work, humorous and otherwise, visit his blog at www.standryer.com.

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