Sunday, November 28, 2010

Foul Ups and Blunders: The Nimbus 2000

Sometimes what seemed like a good idea on the drawing board turns out to be something quite different in reality.

The pending release of the new Harry Potter flick brought this back to mind.

Those Byters who are into Harry Potter will be aware that a broomstick is one form of travel used by witches and wizards and that broomsticks are an integral part of the game of Quidditch. Harry was given a Nimbus 2000 broomstick by Professor McGonagall, later replaced by a gift from his godfather Sirius of a Firebolt broomstick.

The popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies resulted in the usual associated merchandising activity: Harry Potter cups, games, costumes, wands and so on. In 2002 Mattel also decided to release a Nimbus 2000 broomstick that had the added feature that it vibrated.

The advertising pic that Mattel used for the product was somewhat questionable....

but that was not the real problem.

Surprisingly, it did not occur to the Mattel execs and boffins that potentially there could be an issue with a phallic shaped toy that children, especially young girls, would place between their legs and that vibrated.

 It wasn’t long before the Mattel Nimbus 2000 website on started attracting comments directed to that issue, comments both serious and flippant.  Some examples:
GREAT TOY!, June 11, 2002 - Reviewer: "My 12 year old daughter is a big Harry Potter fan, and loved the part with the Nimbus 2000, so I decided to buy her this toy. I was afraid she would think it was too babyish, but she LOVES this toy. Even my daughter's friends enjoy playing with this fun toy. I was surprised at how long they can just sit in her room and play with this magic broomstick! A great buy for any Harry Potter fan!" Ashley from TX

Keep the batteries out!, December 26, 2001 - Reviewer: "A toy enthusiast from NJ; This toy was #1 on my daughter's Christmas list. So what the heck, although it has no educational value I figured it would be good for imaginative play. It wasn't until after she opened her gift and started playing with it that I realized that the toy may offer a more than sensational experience. The broomstick has cute sound effects and ***VIBRATES*** when they put it between their legs to fly. Come on---what were the creators of this toy thinking? She'll keep playing with the Nimbus 2000, but with the batteries removed."

Excellent!, June 11, 2002 - Reviewer: "When my 12 year old daughter asked for this for her birthday, I kind of wondered if she was too old for it, but she seems to LOVE it. Her friends love it too! They play for hours in her bedroom with this great toy. They really seem to like the special effects it offers (the sound effects and vibrating). My oldest daughter (17) really likes it too! I recommend this for all children."
The site was quickly killed and the toy pulled from the market.


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