Gross is good.
At least, this holiday season, in the toy business, it sure seems to be. Maybe even great.
The unlikely instigator: Toys R Us, which will roll out its own line of Monster 500 creepy-looking vehicles and playsets, including CrocPot, an icky monster sitting on a potty-type vehicle and holding a toilet plunger, and Turbo Chainsaw Massacre, who looks eager to saw off just about anything. Mind you, these are targeted at little kids as young as 4 years old.
And that's actually the not-so-gross stuff. The store also sells electronic pets that fart and burp, play balls that fart and burp, and, yes, a megaphone-like device that, you guessed it, farts really loud.
Could be one of the smelliest holiday seasons in years.
Don't laugh. This onslaught of gross holiday gifts could represent a cool $100 million in sales, estimates Jim Silver, editor in chief of Timetoplaymag.com, a children's product-review website. "It's right on trend," says Silver, with a chuckle. "Fart sounds are the sound of profit this holiday."
Toys R Us is taking the gross trend so seriously, that it's even mounting one of its largest holiday-season toy rollouts around it. The Monster 500 line of toys, made exclusively for Toys R Us by the same company that makes many McDonald's Happy Meal toys, "will be an enormous deal," says Ira Hernowitz, executive vice president at Toys R Us. The line launches Oct. 14.
"What you're seeing," says Hernowitz, "is a trend towards gross and disgusting - but with added innovation."
Among 2013's grossest offerings:
• Disgusting electronic pets. The Ugglys, made by Moose Toys, not only fart and burp, but make about 30 other repulsive noises. "Gross is a shock factor," says Moose Toys co-CEO Paul Solomon. "It's a harmless and easy way to rebel at a young age."
Solomon says he's targeting boys age 5 to 8. "The grosser the toy, the better," he says.
• Yucky toy balls. Horri-Ballz, by Vivid Imaginations, are plush toys that make sounds like farts, burps or screams when you toss them.
• Smelly fart machine. The Despicable Me 2 Fart Blaster, looks like a cross between a gun and a megaphone and blasts loud farting sounds that emit the scent of bananas.
• Icky science kit. If you're eager to make stuff like fake snot, The Wacky Lab Disgusting Science Kit, by Edu-Science, is for you. Of course, it has some educationally redeeming qualities like how the kit explains, in great detail, what causes people to fart.
• Farting piano. Suppose you played the piano, and instead of playing music, it played fart sounds. That's precisely what the Prank Star Fart Piano, by Skyrocket Toys, does.
• Poo-Dough. No, it's most definitely not Play-Doh. This Poo-Dough, also by Skyrocket, is modeling clay that looks like the real thing. Thankfully, it doesn't smell like it.
Toys R Us, which carries most of these gross-out toys, has plenty of other conventional toys for parents who might object, Hernowitz says. Then, again, he adds, it's not as if gross toys are entirely new. "We all played with Whoopee cushions."