Gollum on the couch

Natural born killers

Jingle cash

Sorry for the slow December around here, folks, but I’ve been on the road almost the entire month; first the honeymoon, now visiting relatives in Canada! I’ve only had a few minutes of online time this entire week.

But it wouldn’t feel like a proper Xmas without at least one cranky, what-the-hell-is-the-world-coming-to post about increasingly surreal holiday toys. Which brings us to Exhibit A: The “Youniverse” ATM Machine for kids. As the Washington Post describes it:

Tweens and beyond can insert the supplied ATM card into the silver machine, punch in their PIN, be greeted by name on the electronic display, peer into the pretend security camera and wait for that seminal capitalistic moment — when crisp bills miraculously appear, ripe for the plucking. Unlike in a real ATM, a cash drawer opens in the toy ATM, allowing an avaricious child to grab every last cent and run. What do you want for $24.95? But the machine does automatically count coins.

Toys R Us sold 10,000 of these things in four days, and Amazon has been completely cleaned out. Apparently, the company that makes a “brightly colored toy armored car”.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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