Saturday, August 14, 2010

Science Project #2: Will the Play-Doh Fun Factory Turn Me into a More Whimsical Lady?

Overcome with nostalgia as I walked down the toy aisle of my local Walgreens, I bought the Play-Doh Fun Factory. 

Would you believe that it only cost $4.99? What a paltry sum for something that is--according to its box--a veritable factory of fun. I was super juiced about the purchase and excited to start squeezing and molding the crazy shapes that the box promised I'd be squeezing and molding. 

One week later, the Fun Factory was in a corner of my bedroom, still inside of a plastic bag.

The thing seemed cool when I bought it, but as an adult with debt, anxiety, and crap to do, I didn't really know how to incorporate this Play-Doh into my life--a troubling realization since there was a time, not too long ago, when Play-Doh was my life. So I decided to conduct an experiment.

Recapture some of the whimsy of my youth by playing with Play-Doh and using my imagination.

This is going to be great. From this point on, I'll be able to include "Play-Doh Fun Factory" as a skill on my résumé. 

Play-Doh Fun Factory which includes: 2 shapemaking strips, 2 five-ounce cans of modeling compound (blue and yellow), 1 extruder with 3 half-molds, 1 trimmer knife.

Record emotional response and immediate observations as I play with Play-Doh for as long as possible. And by play I mean "Load! Extrude! Mold!"

Field Notes

  • For some reason I thought that there would be instructions inside of the box. I don't know what this says about me. 

  • I probably should be watching cartoons as I do this but there is a Man vs. Wild marathon on the Discovery Channel and it's crucial that I watch Bear Grylls do interesting things with his own urine. 

On the other hand, if there's anyone with an over abundance of joie de vivre and a reckless, childlike spirit, it's Bear Grylls. So in a way, the show is a fitting complement to the experiment.
  • It took me longer to open the containers than it probably should have. 
I'd forgotten about the wonderfully intoxicating non-toxic aroma of Play-Doh. Consider just sitting in my living room and sniffing my Play-Doh as I watch Bear Grylls eat scorpions.

  • Decide to throw caution to the wind and extrude the Play-Doh.

  • I think I messed up because my Play-Doh doesn't look anything like the picture on the box. Regardless, there was something satisfying about the extruding.

  • I look at this blended clump of Play-Doh
and feel upset. I can't separate the yellow from the blue! When I'm finished playing, which container do I put this thing in? This clump of Play-Doh is a child of two worlds, belonging to neither. It's like the Spock of modeling compounds. What have I done?

  • Just looked to see which episodes they'll be airing in this Man vs. Wild mini-marathon. Hoped that they'd be showing that episode where Bear Grylls gets naked. Alas, they are not.

  • Decide to utilize the Fun Factory's molds.
I use the trimmer "knife" to cut off the excess Play-Doh and once again, what I've created looks nothing like the image on the box. 
  • Bear Grylls just killed a massive boa constrictor and now he's going to eat it.
  • Decide to make a boa constrictor with my now green Play-Doh in honor of the boa constrictor Bear Grylls just killed.

  • Have an epiphany. Will construct my own Play-Doh Bear Grylls. 

  • Although the resemblance is uncanny, there is something missing. Decide to place my creation in a tree aka living room plant.

  • I think I'm just going to watch Man vs. Wild now. Also, I'm hungry, so I might go eat some oatmeal. 
Did the Play-Doh Fun Factory turn me into a more whimsical lady? No. As an adult, I find Play-Doh frustrating and pointless. Nothing I made looked as good as the images on the box and even if one of my creations--which were actually abominations--had come out halfway decent, it wasn't as if I was going to save it or put it up on the mantle or use it to get into some kind of art school graduate program. In the end, I was able to Load! Extrude! Mold! for approximately 45 minutes before becoming totally bored. However, I could see myself dispensing with the Fun Factory entirely and just smelling the Play-Doh and squeezing it while grinning psychotically. I'm pretty sure that I could do that for hours. In conclusion, this experiment has turned me into a Play-Doh fiend and I fear that it won't be too long before I start eating the I used to do when I was a kid.


Boonsong said...

These are important findings. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Have a good day, Boonsong

Steve G. said...

Baby you know you turn me on when you extrude. why u gotta be like that?

Also, that third thing in the mold is probably a car. It looks like a buggy or something.

And also also, I loved Play-Doh! Well, at least until it got all dried out and impossible to mold. (The same thing happened with Nickelodeon Gak.) I never knew it was only $5 for a package. My parents were so cheap :(

soft nonsense said...

I would sign a petition to the Discovery channel using no fewer than 12 pseudonyms in an effort to change the name of that show to "Man vs. Wild: With Bear Grylls Doing Interesting Things With His Own Urine."

And the inclusion of the Star Wars score to your extrusion made it all the more sensual...oohhh yyyeeeaahhhh....

Also, personal kudos for both inclusion and extrusion. Woot.

soft nonsense said...

DAMN just realized I missed out on a killer "non-toxic" pun in that second to last paragraph...

I feel like I've let you down.

TbR said...

I work for a children's book publisher and we have a book that comes with a modelling clay set. I found some of the samples we didn't need and spent an entire afternoon making different animals. It was fun, but like you, the fact that you can't separate one colour from the other is a massive, MASSIVE, design flaw and should have been remedied years ago. Also, it makes your fingers feel funny.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

I don't believe you. I'm going out to buy a fun factory now. Because it looked like fun. Maybe I'll get an easy-bake oven, too.

nikki said...

Bear Grylls knows all about childhood whimsy. He named two of his own kids Huckleberry and Marmaduke. If that's not whimsical, I don't know what is.

My son loves play-doh and of course, I have to sit there and play with him. You're right, it's boring for grownups.

Simon said...

Play-Doh's my antidrug, fool.

(except it totally isn't)

Wouldn't it be awesome if Play-Doh became a street-drug?

soft nonsense said...

Also, holy hell since when were you the 20sb blogger of the week/month/whatever?!

My little Amber is moving up in the blogging world :'D


Georgina Dollface said...

Can I come over and have a playdough date with you after work today? I'll bring my Sit-and-Spin. - G

Megs said...

I never liked the Fun Factory for all of the reasons you mentioned. Also, the extruding has always made me think of poop. Which made me not want to touch my Play Doh anymore.

Stephanie Ann said...

I find it amazing that when I used to play with PlayDoh I would get really excited by making a ball or a long string out of it. But now, if I mold it into something that vaguely resembles an animal I get all disappointed because it doesn't look better. Perhaps it's the pressures of the "adult" world crashing in on the fun stuff... or a lack of imagination. Either way, growing up isn't proving to be as fun as being a kid.

Sadako said...

Nothing makes me feel more like a little kid than play dough. (In a good way.) Forget Lego, play dough is where it's at.

RMb said...

i really dont want to be one of those moms who wont let her kid have play dough, but... it's rapidly turning out that way. i mean, that shit gets everywhere!! and i try to let it dry so i can just vaccum it up, but i inevitably lose patience and make a bigger mess while my cat looks at me disdainfully & then eats it causing him to barf everywhere.
looks like you had fun, though! :)

Fear Street said...


I used to eat Play-Doh, too. I hated that it didn't come in flavors other than non-toxic salty.

Amber said...

Steve G: Yeah, I thought it might be a car but the shape was just really weird so I wasn't sure. And I hated when the Play-Doh got all dried out. You'd think they'd come up with a solution for that...beyond, you know, putting the lid back on the container.

Boonsong: Just trying to do my part for science.

Soft Nonsense: You are officially supercool for commenting on this post 3 times. I love you, man. You're awesome.

The Chicken's Consigliere: Don't buy the fun factory, I beg you. But I totally cosign the easy bake oven thing.

Nikki: I wonder what a kids book written by Bear Grylls would be like. I'd totally buy it.

TbR: The person who figures out how to separate modeling clay is going to win the Noble Prize.

Simon: I bet Play-Doh already is a street drug. It's definitely a Playground drug.

Georgina: You can have my Play-Do! And I'm all about that sit and spin.

Megs: I'm pretty sure the extruding tool is just one epic scatological joke perpetrated by the people at Hasbro.

Stephanie Ann: Play-Doh is more enjoyable when you are doing something simple with it. I loved rolling it into a ball. The stuff just feels good in your hands.

Sadako: I think it might be cool to incorporate the play-doh into the legos. I'm not exactly sure how that would work but I think it'd be fun.

RMb: Part of being a parent is cleaning up Play-Doh debris, I think.

Fear Street: I'm glad I'm not the only one.

MJenks said...

I see you and I ride in the same "There's Shit I Need to Do This Afternoon So I'll Just Watch Man vs. Wild" boat.

Richard said...

Bloody hell - I'm pleased I never read the box as a kid. My head might explode if I found out I'd be extruding the hell out of stuff.

It's like when the Care Bears movie worked that line about 'hydroplaning' into a song.

peterdewolf said...

I'm a fan of Man vs. Wild also. Show is oddly compelling.

Amiee said...

That's sad, I would have thought play doh would have been a meaningless fun thing to do, kinda like lego or colouring in.

Christina In Wonderland said...

Ah. the suckishness of adulthood. You probably would have had more fun if you had invented a youth machine before trying the experiment.

Kylee said...

I play with play-doh about once a week, because I have a 3 year old brother. It never gets old.

Also Bear Grylls is a god among men, my boyfriend wants to name our future child Bear.

Here is the BEST Bear clip that ever existed, the commentary on the blog is the best part.

Heather Taylor said...

This post made me feel depressed, but I appreciate the honesty of how Play-Doh really looks in the end. This reminds me of how I knew I would never make a good housewife or chef when I tried in vain to work an Easy Bake Oven. My brownies looked more like pudding than what the box depicted.

Angie said...

Have you seen the show Survivorman? It's my faaavvve. It's like Man vs Wild but the poor guy films himself.. no crew, nothing. It's the shit. In a good way.