Much has been made of the juggernaut economy and its theoretical ability to make everyone rich. But even with all the disposable income floating around, some products still can't be sold. For proof, look no further than your nearest toy store: Alongside thousands of flashing, whirling distractions, you'll also find hundreds of discounted toys begging for a home. But unlike the endearing Misfit Toys from the Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, these toys have almost no redeeming qualities, and no amount of song-and-dance will make children value them. Still, there are always exceptions, so in the spirit of the bargain hunt, here's a taste of what's out there this year.
($3.99, marked down from $6.99)
In these go-go times, "regular" pets just can't cut it any longer. The pets of today need the nitro-burning, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners attitude of extreme-sports participants. Those who buy X-Treme Petz will quickly learn that twice the misspelling equals twice the fun: Edge The Monkey, for example, boasts a screw in his tongue, a pirate's fashion sensibility, and a propensity for bungee-jumping. Extreme! In the eight-page comic that accompanies the toy—for free!—he also has a "mega monkey bite" that can cut through an iron chain. As a clueless attempt to cash in on youth culture and slang, the comic book is worth a look, but the toy is a bizarre and evil-looking object to behold. Kids who want these deserve them.
Bruce Moose On The Loose
This motorized moose, ostensibly named Bruce by its would-be captors, can only be subdued by placing plastic rings on its antlers. Oh, if only real moose were so easy to subdue! If nothing else, you can rest assured that if your kids are doing this, they won't be trying to capture real moose. Or taking drugs.
Lego Systems Star Wars Droid Fighter
($4.99, marked down from $7.99)
While the coolness of The Phantom Menace has not yet been fully determined (thus far, it's pretty much on par with The Never Ending Story), the coolness of Legos has been a constant for decades. Consumers should run the Individual Coolness Index numbers through their heads before deciding whether this middling representation of a Droid Fighter might make a good gift.
McFarlane Toys' Bob & Doug McKenzie
($5.99 each, marked down from $14.99)
Press the side of the Bob McKenzie stand and he speaks the phrase, "It's a jelly." Hilarious for fans of Strange Brew or SCTV, juvenile to others, these Bob & Doug McKenzie figures can be instrumental in teaching a much-needed lesson about the value of beer and donuts to young people swayed by the distractions of Ecstasy and Red Bull.
A Bug's Life Battle Bird
($3.99, marked down from $12.99)
Overall, the Bug's Life Battle Bird isn't a bad toy. It's reasonably durable, it's not a bad representation, and it has honest-to-goodness projectiles that shoot from under its wings. It actually shoots things! The lost art of potentially dangerous toy projectiles has returned! Still, it'll seem sort of hollow without the other Bug's Life figures, unless you give it a monster bird name and have it pick off your Lego men.
Radical Deep Sea Fishing
($9.99, marked down from $16.99)
Why brave the elements when you can experience all the tedium of fishing while staying inside? Plus, with the endorsement of fishing legend Hank Parker (pictured giving the old fisherman's "thumbs up" signal), you know it's got to be good.
Richard Petty Racing Trivia Game
($5, marked down from $12.99)
A profound demonstration of the essence of the word "trivia."
Teletubbies Match & Stamp
($4.97, marked down from $7.99)
This comes with four small cans of Play-Doh and bears the legends, "A fun game" and "No reading necessary to play." Paying heed to the latter, the result seems to be a concentration game with a Teletubby theme. It should be noted here that Play-Doh tastes every bit as good now as it did when you were five.
Universal Studios Monsters Wrestlers From Headliners XL
($3.99, marked down from $7.99)
The package features a shiny sticker which proudly states, "Heads Are Poseable!" And, after some wrangling—even forcing—the heads do swivel from side to side. Does that make this toy any more fun? Not at all. Like all Headliners XL toys, these pocket-sized, molded plastic monsters sport disproportionately large heads; here, they're joined to wrestling headgear. Now such timeless arguments as, "If the Wolfman met the Mummy and they teamed up against Frankenstein's monster, who would win?" need no longer be academic.
Captain James T. Kirk In Casual Attire
($9.99, marked down from $17.99)
If this nine-inch figure is any indication, one of the many surprises the future holds is casual attire that resembles pajamas. If that's the case, bring on the future! This toy comes with a phaser, a communicator, and Tribbles that look like little plastic brains. Today's kids may not be familiar with the old Star Trek, which gives you an excuse—cheap at twice the price—to shake your head and bemoan the problems with today's youth.