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?