Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2048 xkcd comics, and only 21 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Unfulfilling Toys
We were going to do a falling-apart Rubik's cube that was just 27 independent blocks stuck together with magnets, but then we realized it was actually really cool and even kind of worked, so we cut that one.
Title text: We were going to do a falling-apart Rubik's cube that was just 27 independent blocks stuck together with magnets, but then we realized it was actually really cool and even kind of worked, so we cut that one.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Please edit the explanation below and only mention here why it isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This comic lists and illustrates a number of classic toys that are missing a key piece or attribute that makes them work and/or that makes them unique.

Rigid Slap Bracelet

Slap bracelets are flexible curved strips of spring steel that roll up and become a bracelet when you slap them against your wrist. This function operates on the same principle and basic design as the rolled band of metal inside a tape-measure. A rigid one would not twist and would be deeply frustrating and potentially painful.

Sealed Stomp Rocket

A stomp rocket has a rubber pouch full of air, connected via a hose to a vertical cylinder contained snugly within the base of an air propelled rocket. By stomping on the pouch, the air is forced out the top end of the cylinder, launching the rocket into the air. By sealing the air channel, the rocket would stay on the cylinder and the person would just be bounced into the air by the pouch -- acting like the world's smallest bouncy house -- or the pouch will burst rendering the toy even more useless.

Pump-only Supersoaker

A Super Soaker™ is a brand of water gun that works by first pumping air into the gun, thereby introducing pressurized air above the water, then releasing the water using the gun's trigger -- the extra pressure from the pumped air makes the water go much further than a traditional water gun which relies upon the pressure generated from a single pump of the trigger itself. In Randall's version, the water cannot be released, so the fun part of the water gun -- getting to spray your friends -- isn't available.

Glass Glow Stick

In a classic glow stick, made of flexible plastic, one must first bend it enough to break the glass cylinder inside. This allows the chemicals inside to mix and begin glowing within the plastic tube. If the entire tube were made of actual glass, however, it would not only shatter into many sharp glass pieces, but would also cover the hands of the unfortunate user with a mixture of mild but not harmless chemicals.

Wingless Sky Dancer

In the original toy, a doll or figure with folded-up wings sits on top of a hand-held device with a wrapped string or other mechanism that lets it spin the doll very fast. As the doll spins, centrifugal force causes the wings to unfold and provide lift, and the doll rises up in the air and flies, spinning, sometimes going quite high. Without the wings, the doll will spin but otherwise remain flightless.

No-strings-attached Yo-yo

In a traditional yo-yo, one attaches a string to their finger and the other end of the string is looped around the shaft of the yo-yo, in such a way that it will hold the yo-yo but the yo-yo can still spin. In this case, the string is included but not attached to the yo-yo, so when the yo-yo reaches the end of its string it will fall off, instead of coming back to the person or spinning at the end of the string.

Nonetheless off-string yo-yoing technique exists that has been a division of the World Yo-Yo Contest since 2003. The division specifies that the string is tied to one finger but not the yo-yo. It was popularized by yo-yo player Jon Gates. It differs from the manipulation of a Diabolo because the string is tied to one finger instead of being tied to two sticks. The return is accomplished with a twist of the string called a bind. Diabolos don't return. A good example is here at this video: Youtube: Crazy Stringless Yoyo Tricks!.

Title-text: Falling-Apart Rubik's cube

In order to build the magnetic Rubik's Cube, which ironically was called Magic Cube at the first place, you would need to embed magnets in the inward-facing sides of each cube. This actually can be achieved by using a checkered pattern for the polarity of each piece, a single piece uses the same polarity at all its connecting sides while the immediate neighbor is configured in the opposite. This video shows the principle and even a working 5x5x5 magnetic cube.

Because such a cube doesn't fall apart Randall had to remove it from his "deeply unfulfilling versions of classic toys."

It might also refer to various square shaped neodymium magnet based toys, like this one, which although can be taken easily apart, it is a successful and very fulfilling product on its own.


[The comic presents toys in six different frames.]
[Cueball slaps his wrist with a strap-like item in his hand.]
Rigid slap bracelet
[Cueball jumps on top of a pouch full of air connected via a hose to an air propelled rocket. The pouch does not budge and the rocket remains connected to its base.]
Seal stomp rocket
[Ponytail holds a water gun and makes use of its hand-operated pump system.]
Pump pump pump
Pump-only SuperSoaker
[Megan pulls an item apart between her hands. The middle section breaks into many pieces on the ground and liquid is falling from the end parts.]
Glass glow stick
[Cueball holds a figurine sitting on top of a hand-held device and pulls a string connected to it.]
Wingless sky dancer
[Megan holds a yo-yo until the yo-yo falls from the string and starts rolling on the ground.]
No-strings-attached yo-yo
[Caption below the frames:]
My least successful product line was probably "deeply unfulfilling versions of classic toys."

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.


Don't be a jerk.

There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.