With the never-ending influx of new toys, new sets, new upgraded versions of what we already love, has come a gross and smelly, uninvited guest: The Mash ‘Em. Wouldn’t you love to experience the horror of stepping on the booger-esque figure of a popular tv character, a favorite super hero or comic book legend, or perhaps a beloved Pixar character whilst tip-toeing late at night? Mash ‘Ems come in a huge assortment of every family’s favorite stars, packaged in a small Donkey-Kong type barrel, which if you’re anything like me, you will likely mysteriously lose the top half of said barrel within the first few minutes of opening. The figure itself is essentially a small, sticky stress ball that is advertised that you can “twist, squish, and mash”, but also has the super power to pick up every piece of lint in your carpet.
While children and adults are both inclined to enjoy watching your favorite character’s face expand and contrast with the power of their own mighty hand, I have a couple of reservations about this toy. Issue number one, the composition of the figure is not as durable as I would hope it would be. You would expect a toy that is meant to be squeezed and abused would be thicker or stronger than what I’ve experienced. The recommended age for play is four years old and above, and my son is five. He has ripped or popped a hole in every Mash ‘Em he’s ever gotten, which certainly may just vary from savage child to savage child, I don’t know, but in our experiments, the variable becomes the constant.
Which leads me to my next problem, they have an odd smell. It’s not a rubber smell, and it’s not a cleaning product smell, but it’s somewhere in the middle and lingers on your hands. Thankfully, none of the liquid has ever gotten into anyone’s eyes here at home, but it doesn’t smell like a safe product to get onto skin. If you’re a complete and total weirdo, you can view on Youtube trillions of videos of psychos spending time and money cutting into Mash ‘Ems (and the female variation, Fash ‘Ems) with box cutter blades and knives. I’m told that it is therapeutic and calming for some people to watch soft objects getting sliced open, but in my house “ain’t nobody got time fo that.”
Which snowballs into my third and final issue with the product:
The videos. The videos are possibly the worst and most annoying crazes I’ve seen in my lifetime thus far. The amount of Mash ‘Em and Fash ‘Em videos available, in combination with the amount of views these videos are getting are astounding. My son can memorize verbatim full-length videos of people who are simply opening the packages and giving them a squeeze, and the kids go wild. It’s confusing how impressed I am by how effective the marketing is, and by how much they annoy me. They are moderately priced, at Wal-Mart they are around four dollars, but on places like Amazon they can go for much more. Four dollars is not exactly enough for me to refuse the purchase if my son asks for one, but it is perhaps just enough to be sulking about later, after my second glass of wine and second ripped Thor body on my table, but I digress.
I may just be a bit cranky and under-rested, but I would skip this purchase all together. We’ve all experienced the gummy ball, the stress ball, the sticky-window-guy, and we all know how quickly they become unattractive. Within a few minutes they’re fuzzy, you’ve lost the packaging, and there’s residue on your hand somehow. Children undoubtedly love them; they’re graphic, super simple, and come in packaging that makes finding out the character a blind-choice surprise. I get the appeal, but I would find another toy with your character’s face on it and keep your four bucks.