Posted in Freedom Friday


If you’re like me, celebrating the holidays and having gotten stuck unwrapping gifts, then you’ll know I’m not joking when I ask: Why does it take a degree in engineering to puzzle over how many handy ties keeps a product in place in its box? I mean seriously, manufacturers produce a lot of packaging for kids’ toys. Some of that packaging could go to great use, such as gasoline for our cars.


Given the subject matter, I think it appropriate to write this post for my Freedom Friday series. If anything, it’s a definite vote for freedom, for sure.

What am I talking about? One of my kids received one of those cool plastic toy characters a couple of days ago as a gift. Under normal circumstances, I’d appreciate the gesture from the giver, shaking their hand in a gracious act of gratitude. However, when it comes to kids’ toys—I surrender.

You see, as a deterrent to avoid shrinkage—that’s the polite term used by fancy-shmancy store chains to describe shoplifting—manufacturers ship their toys in virtually impenetrable packaging only a seasoned professional with safecracking qualifications would dare attempt to open. This, as the stores have said, keeps prices low in an effort best to serve their customers.

But I ask, is it necessary? Is it really necessary? Here’s my experience with the whole packaging drama bit. Let’s take a quick example of what I mentioned as the ultimate kids’ dream—the franchise plastic character toy.

Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knife

First, I have the box to open. Easy enough, I’ll try to use my nail to break through the one-inch, high-tack sticker that seals the box. My nail doesn’t work, prompting me to grab a Swiss Army Knife to do the deed. Success!

Second, I remove the toy from the box only to find it sealed in a custom, see-through, plastic shell that I either could use a chainsaw to serrate the edges or an incredibly sharp knife. The Swiss Army Knife it is again. I slowly cut around the edges, hoping to get to the toy. I manage to separate the front face of the plastic from its casing. Success, I can finally touch the toy with my fingertips!

Third, three-inch, wire ties keep the toy from moving. Of course, the ties have had twenty-five to thirty twists added, which makes it impossible to gain access to the toy unless the customer uses wire cutters to clip them from their stationary positions. Yes, I use the wire cutters. Success once again! The toy is a tug away from being mine.

Last, now the tricky part. All that work is nothing for what comes next—attempting to pull the toy from its plastic mould. Now, I understand shoplifting is a problem, but in all honesty—manufacturers, malls, stores and bargain shops everywhere—is it really necessary?

I pull, I tug, I grab. The toy is almost out of its cryogenic chamber. I snarl, I sneer, I laugh. I can almost feel it floating in my hands.

Then? I heave a bit too hard. One of the toy character’s arms snaps.

I growl.


Have you ever had to deal with a packaging mishap? Care to share the story with us?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

12 thoughts on “Packaging

  1. And the child’s face turns from delighted anticipation to a gut wrenching horror followed by down turned head and slumped shoulders. The resultant quick dash away from you and the wailing cries as the child runs away is enough to make an adult wish the ground would open up and let you fall in :/ Been there, done that. I feel for you.

  2. Oops! I thought you were going to say you cut the toy through the plastic. I’m sure I’ve done that before.

  3. Goodness, it does seem like a ridiculous amount of barricades to get through in order to get the toy out. I remember my dad struggling with hard plastic shells and intricate ties while we waited impatiently for the toy’s freedom.

  4. Drives me nuts every time. Right up there with the packaging of some products that are sealed around the edges. You have to get through the plastic fortress with a scissor, which leaves razor-sharped edges that you have to move your hand around to get the product. Open gifts has become a dangerous activity.

    1. No kidding. I have my Swiss Army knife on me at all times with the knowledge I have the upper hand with manufacturers everywhere. Unfortunately, my sentiments may be short-lived given how packaging with eventually contain metal locks and keys to even challenge seasoned lock pickers everywhere.

  5. Thanks to you, Jack, I finally understand the toy collection at our friends’ place. Still in the original package, behind glass as ‘they will at least triple their value in a few years’ time’. 😀

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