2049: Unfulfilling Toys

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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.


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

Rigid Slap Bracelet[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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. Also, depending on this contraption's construction and/or luck, the chemicals either won't mix and not glow at all, defeating the purpose of the glow stick, or stain your hands, clothes, and surroundings with a glowing liquid, which would be rather unfortunate.

Wingless Sky Dancer[edit]

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[edit]

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 presumably 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 titled "Crazy Stringless Yoyo Tricks!".

Note that the phrase "no strings attached" is an idiom and usually refers to something being available without special conditions or restrictions, a favor being done with nothing expected in return, or a relationship intended to be very casual. In this case, it is literal rather than an idiom, in that the string that is normally attached to the yo-yo is literally not attached.

Title-text: Falling-Apart Rubik's cube[edit]

In order to build the magnetic Rubik's Cube, 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 is also worth noting that although Randall said that there were 27 small magnetic cubes, only 26 small 'cubes' (or 'cubelets') appear in a traditional Rubik's cube, of three main types. There is no center block in a traditional Rubik's cube, instead there is a pivoting armature connecting the six face-centers (with just a single flat face) together while allowing their individual rotation, each of which can keep the 12 edge-centers (two externally-flat faces) rotatably-anchored to at least one face at a time by a form of dovetailed tab on those edge pieces and, similarly, those hold the eight corners (with three outer faces) in place even as they follow a single face's rotation primarily held by the two most currently relevant of the adjacent edges.

It might also refer to various square-shaped neodymium magnet-based toys, like this one or this one, which although they can be taken easily apart, they are successful and very fulfilling products on their 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.]
Sealed 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."

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The no string attached yo-yo exists and works rather well for those who know how to yo-yo (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Blinking heck, my Lord. I thought you meant one of those yo-yos with a loop at the end, but I've now seen people yo-ing into the air with detached strings and catching them again by whipping the spinning beast. 16:55, 21 September 2018 (UTC)

Pondy contributed a video for: "This also exists, is rather functional, and is the only way to make fun Rubik's cube shapes such as 1x5x5. See this video for a good example of this."

But this doesn't appear to be a good example at all. Those cubes are most definitely attached and you can see the presenter has to use quite a bit of force at some points to rotate. Can someone find a better example if it exists? -boB (talk) 16:51, 21 September 2018 (UTC)

The cubes are only attached magnetically. It takes a lot of force to break a lot of magnetic connections at once. Some of the cubes they actually take apart and you can see it’s just magnets. The video might be longer than ideal, but it does demonstrate the concept. 11:17, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
It is theoretically possible to build a cube with arbitrary dimensions without using magnets, though the mechanism required for certain shapes is much more complicated than a standard cube. Probably not Douglas Hofstadter (talk) 04:40, 23 September 2018 (UTC)

Isn't a wingless sky dancer just an upside down beyblade? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I sometimes find myself smacking my wrist with a comb. I think it's stimming. There might be a market for rigid objects designed for the purpose.

Broken toys

Toys often don't have a long lifetime, in particular children tend to act not much carefully and sometimes they even destroy them deliberately as a part of their playing. Parents know what I'm talking about. It can be annoying how fast kids are able to destruct things. So literally Randall just sells toys in a state in which they always end up anyway. Worth for the explanation? --Dgbrt (talk) 13:59, 22 September 2018 (UTC)

I'm sure I still have working toys somewhere that have survived my childhood. :) I think Randall just aims to deprive of the satisfaction of playing with them for children, thus the comic name "Unfulfilling Toys". -Asdf (talk) 14:47, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
"toys ... have survived my childhood" emphases exactly that what I'm saying. Most of them didn't survive... And try to remember your own annoyance about all those broken ones, there's probably not much in your memory, you just threw them away. But your parents were annoyed about all that waste. --Dgbrt (talk) 18:33, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
"Broken" != "Unfulfilling". Over this weekend, my son and I blitzed his dump, sorry, room. There were a large number of broken toys (especially those "Hero Mashers" action figures - lifetime measured in hours...) that I was not allowed to get rid of because he still plays with them. He has some perfectly intact items that are much more unfulfilling - racetracks where the track pieces don't quite match up leading to stuck cars (when new out of the box) being the one most guaranteed to create the disappointed face. 14:01, 24 September 2018 (UTC)

Wanna nerd-snipe the next commenters? 20:41, 22 September 2018 (UTC)

Glass glow-sticks? Isn't that the principle behind Mike Thompson's blood lamp. His design, in my opinion, is less fun than the design suggested in the current explanation. 23:41, 27 September 2018 (UTC)

I think you might be able to pull this off if you market it as a prank gifts, for people to buy for their friends as a joke. Solomon (talk) 05:37, 6 December 2023 (UTC)