Hi, my name is Barbara– some of my friends call me Babs. I love toys, all kinds of toys. This column is all about the kind an adult might enjoy… well… now, not that kind. But toys that relieve stress and might be called comfort toys as well. When things get stressful, it can be helpful to have something to take the edge off. It seems that we all have things that cause stress: waiting in line for one thing or another, your turn to see the doctor, or a computer program to finish running. Or perhaps being a passenger on a long trip. Whether in a plane, train or automobile, having something to amuse you can help the time go by much faster.
“The Magic Springs”
In my pursuit of toys that are both fun and stress relieving, I visit any number of variety stores, including the “Dollar” store. There are several across my city and from discussions with ‘net friends, they seem to be everywhere in North America. They have various and sundry names that go with “Dollar ________” fill in the blank with Tree, Bazaar, or General. In Canada, they are sometimes called the “Looney Bin” (I love that particular name). Whatever the name might be, they all seem to carry similar things, ranging from food items to car parts, to all kinds of toys. The great thing about “Dollar” stores of course is that nothing sells for more than a dollar.
During the summer I was wandering through the local dollar store, just seeing what I could find, when I came across stacks and stacks of boxes labeled “Magic Spring” on one side and “Rainbow” on the other. Upon further examination of one of the boxes I found several pictures that indicated that what was inside was something quite fun. I thought it amusing that it was being called anything but what it really was. But then I suppose copyright and trademark infringement prohibited the label “Slinky” which makes sense of course. Inside each box was what can be described as a plastic slinky or, as one friend recently referred to it, a kinetic helix. Upon reflection and review, I think he may be right.
Each toy is rainbow-colored in oranges to yellows, greens to blues, purples to fuchsias and reds. The rainbow colors only make the kinetic action of the toy more enjoyable. As a bonus, they come in various shapes: three are geometric (round, triangle and hexagon) and three are fun shapes (star, butterfly and heart). Now being me, I of course determined immediately that the three geometric shapes could double as bracelets. Perhaps a little large but still fun to wear and, of course, to play with as well. All of the shapes make great display items and conversation pieces. They are attractive and when coiled open can hold messages or letters on a desk or computer table. When turned on their ends on a flat surface they can be used as pencil cups or a stand for any small stuffed animals that you might want to show off.
I bought several of the springs in various shapes and have been sharing them with some of my friends. The response has been quite good and everyone seems to find them quite soothing and relaxing. As I have already said, the colors rippling back and forth are very relaxing, but the soft clicking sound of the plastic is also quite soothing. The toy can of course do everything a regular “Slinky” can do but is not as heavy, and is also a bit quieter. I was quite pleased that they have been accepted so well. They should make great stocking stuffers at Christmas and are inexpensive enough to have several on hand for unexpected guests.
I do have an amusing story about the springs that I would like to share. It involves “Heavens Orb” which I discussed in last months issue and my trip arrangements to New Jersey for Dylons wedding.
Once I decided to take the trip, I called my favorite travel agents, Cindy and Sharon. They just happen to be in the corporate travel office in the bank where I work. Each of them has been quite helpful with my various travels over the last year or so. I spoke with Cindy this time; we discussed my options and determined that since it was so close to the date, I would have to take a train– a flight would be too expensive. Once we worked out the times and travel dates, she advised me the tickets would be ready anytime, so I told her I would be by to pick them up later in the day.
When I went to pick up the tickets I just happened to be wearing my “Heavens Orb” bracelet. Just like everyone else, Cindy was fascinated by my bracelet. I showed her how it worked and we talked about how stressful work could be sometimes, and I told her my theory about how certain toys could help to alleviate stress. I mentioned the “Magic Spring” toy to her and told her I thought she might want to grab a couple to keep in the office for when things got a little hectic. She thought that was a fine idea and said that she would get by the Dollar Store over the weekend.
I thought about it later and decided that I would just give Cindy and Sharon each a “Magic Spring”. I had so many extras and they had always been so helpful in assisting me in my travel plans that I wanted to do something for them. So I picked 2 out from my stash and the next morning I left them outside their office door as a surprise.
Later that morning Cindy called to thank me for the little presents and told me that she would be sure and explain to Sharon about my theories on stress relievers. I told her that I just hoped they both enjoyed their new toys and would keep me in mind whenever they found out about travel discounts.
Several weeks later I got a call from Cindy; she promptly told me I had saved her sanity earlier that day. Apparently one of the computer systems that is used to handle airline reservations was acting up, and she had to make some of her travel arrangements directly by phone with the airlines. The going was slow and some of the customers were being a bit uncooperative about having to wait for information about flight availability. Of course Cindy was doing the best she could juggling the calls but there was a lot of waiting as the airline searched their computer for flight availability so Cindy could relay it to the customers and try to keep everyone happy. She said she felt her blood pressure rising as the customer yelled and the airlines computer began to slow down due to heavy traffic. Out of the corner of her eye she spied the hexagonal spring I had left for her and the stress relieving powers I had promised could be had.
She told me that though she had sporadically played with the spring over the weeks and found it amusing she had forgotten about the stress relieving aspects. Deciding that this would be the time to find out for sure, she picked up the spring and began to bounce it back and forth in her hands as she bounced between phone calls. The sound of the spring and the cascading colors as it performed its wonderful kinetic action immediately had a soothing affect on her. She reported that she found herself becoming calmer and as she began to pay more attention to that, she began to relax even more. As she calmed down she talked to the customer who seemed to sense the calm tone in Cindy’s voice and reacted positively. Each of them were laughing and joking as they waited for the information they needed from the airline. Cindys story made my day and I think she made herself a new friend with that customer too. I have seen Cindy and Sharon a couple of times since and they have both told me that they often play with their relaxing toys and think of me and smile. Now I can not think of a better reason to share such things with my friends in the future.
There is no product web site for Magic Spring but if you have access to one of these “Dollar” or “Looney” Stores you can find all the Kinetic Helix toys you might want.
“Be sure and come back soon for more discussion about toys that please the eye and engage the mind.”
– Barbara Mudd