Blind Bag Toys, a Life Lesson Imparted to My First Born


It’s that cool kid Owen’s bday at school, so we had to hit up TRU to get a present for the party. We didn’t feel like dealing with maelstrom child in the toy store, so we told our kid that he had to ride in the cart because it was store rules on the weekend that no children could touch the floor. He wasn’t buying it, so we offered him the opportunity to earn a small reward with good behavior.  He sat still and silent in the cart the entire time — you could hear a robin land in a fresh blanket of virgin snow, that’s how quiet he was.

Well that’s not true, but he did enough to earn a small toy, considering he had to sit by idly and watch his parents buy Owen the tricked-out motorized driving Road Ripping Street Beatz car with pulsing speakers.  My kid’s reward was a PJ Masks Blind Bag toy.

If you don’t have little kids, PJ Masks is that stupid-looking cartoon with goober CGI animation that’s not half as cool as all the cool shit we had back in the day.

And if you do have little kids, PJ Masks is the hotness. Paw Patrol is over. It’s for babies.  PJ Masks is big league big kid territory. It’s about these six-year-olds that turn into superheros when they go to bed at night. They also learn about getting along and gardening and crap. PJ Masks comes bearing multiple gifts to us as parents — twenty minute blocks of sanity and a theme song that is catchier than an airborne mutation of the bubonic plague.

Once at home, I sit down to explain blind bags to my son. They are a pestilence, a scourge, a way to collect things if you hate yourself. But he’s three, so I don’t say that, I just say in my chipper voice “you don’t know what you’re going to get,” as I begin to twitch subtly. My chipper voice is veneer-thin, and I might actually be sobbing, so my wife chimes in “they’re like a mystery!”

I imagine some people just have a luckiness, a blessedness bestowed upon them at birth with these blind toys. I always get the worst one, the very one I want absolute least. Or I get one I already have. Yet these little pestillent crap bags have a magnetic pull on me.  I can’t resist them.

They’re not fun to play with, they’re not fun to collect, they don’t display particularly nice. They do nothing, they are nothing. They are like the junk toys you get for a quarter out of a prize machine — except THEY COST FOUR DOLLARS NOW HO HO HO!

It’s like gambling, only there’s no magical hope of hitting a jackpot and spontaneously turning into the Busta Rhymes music video Pass The Courvoisier. The only hope is opening an utterly useless choking hazard that I don’t hate more than the other ones taunting me on the back.

I also secretly hope that maybe it will fill in a tiny part of the gaping hole in my being, like a bit of spackle.

Got that son?

I explain he might get Cat Boy, or he might get Owlette. Or maybe Gekko! Or Luna Girl! Or Romeo. Romeo is the generic lame-o mad scientist. the hate-most one that is 100% guaranteed to be in the bag.

“Or Night Ninja! It’s going to be Night Ninja! I want him!” my son exclaims.

No, no no no. Nah kid. That’s not how it works. I mean, yeah, maybe Night Ninja, but it’s not. It’s not ever the one you want. Night Ninja is probably the chaser figure thats only in one out of every two hundred bags. It’s gonna be Romeo. You better be prepared to feel content with Gekko, the third-billed kid but hell at least he’s one of the main ones.

I want to prepare him more, but he just wants to rip into the bag,

so we pull apart the plastic …

and it’s …

Night Ninja.

He beams with pure joy. He who hath been bestowed with the blessedness of blind bag toys.

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4 thoughts on “Blind Bag Toys, a Life Lesson Imparted to My First Born

  1. Oh, I feel this. When I go to Japan I’m always trying to get stuff out of those evil capsule toy machines. You never get the one you really want on the first try and then you’re all, do I keep trying till I run out of coins? And the most of the time you do, and you STILL don’t get the one you want… But on my last trip on almost the last day I ran across a machine for the characters I most wanted in the whole world right at that moment, and I only had enough coins for two tries, and I got BOTH my favorites. I think you can appreciate the glory of that moment.

  2. After they did away with the little cheat window on the mlp fim blind bags, I figured out a technique to still figure out what was in which bag. I would gently squeeze the bag’s side against the figure’s head, giving me a look at the color and eye when held in the light. Then I’d look on the little chart on the side of the box and match up what I saw with whichever figure had those same eyes and color. I put together quite a collection that way.

  3. It started with NFL helmets 20 years ago, and has morphed into these things A friend of mine from Chicago sent me a “feel better” Christmas package (after the Hell on Earth that 2017 was for me; I can’t imagine getting THAT in a grab bag, holy crap. Or maybe I can. Hmm. Anyway..) and he included some Funko mini Horror Mystery deals. I ended up with a Universal Mummy, and after feeling an axe in the package I thought I landed Jack Nicholson from the Shining, but ended up with American Psycho Christian Bale instead.

    Now, like you, I loath these things. Yet somehow..they do EXACTLY what they want them to do to me. So I’m in the store, and I see a Star Wars one. Get a Grand Moff Tarkin bobblehead. Cool enough? But I need more. I spend $11 (ELEVEN DOLLARS) on a single Mega Man blind draw at Toys R Us, and I get freakin’ Fire Man. Like, the worst Mega Man boss. Went back to the well (with my local TRU going out of business, ugh) and walked away with a Chewie (nice!) and a Cut Man. Is that it for me? I’d say “yes,” but I know that I’ll be opening a classic arcade game icon thing tomorrow, and watching someone open up the same. Maybe we’ll both get the same crap so we can’t even trade. Yuck.

    On another note, glad to see you’re still writing! I didn’t have an official WordPress account before, but I’ve been getting emails from the site for YEARS on the “Though Some Have Changed..” comments. Fun!

    Keep up the good work, I see I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

    PS- If you want some Mystery Legend of Zelda backpack buddies, I know where to find some…

  4. I’m a bit late to this party, but feel compelled to chime in. When I was an employee at a toy store, we had Simpsons mystery bag toys. They came in seasons, so there were so many to collect. A co-worker was really good at figuring out which one was in the bag by casting his eyes skyward and giving it a thorough massage with fine-tuned fingertips. Once a declaration was made, the bag was labeled and kept behind the counter. Not everyone had access to this bounty – only customers who were looking for that. last. one. We tried to accommodate as much as possible, and we made it clear that there was no guarantee that a particular figure was in the bag, only that it matched our best guesser’s best guess. And to this day, I have no clue how he did it. Every time I tried to help out, it ended in miserable failure.

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