Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lite-Brite Pen

One of the few remaining Christmas presents I’ve yet to open, I felt that this was ideal for reviewing purposes.  It has obvious novelty appeal, from the pen itself to its packaging.  But, if we’re going to spend some time talking about Lite-Brite—I need to rewind back to the late 1980’s.  As a youngster, I spent many cold December nights bathed in the iridescent glow of my original Lite-Brite.  I remember my parents taking me to Toys ‘R Us, where I’d grab a couple paper refill packages containing pre-designed outlines so you could create glowing renditions of all of your favorite characters in the comfort of your very own living room.  It was a great time to be alive; the aroma of Mom’s patented meatloaf was drifting in from the kitchen, your best friends were Garbage Pail Kids, and you were creating a visage of Donald Duck using colored pegs.

What this pen is supposed to do is amplify those magical times and give you the opportunity to take Lite-Brite on the road!  Whether you’re bored at school, work, during a long car ride, etc. you’ll now be able to create glowing masterpieces anywhere!

Now come on, aren’t these just adorable?  If you remember the old blank background papers (I’m sure there’s a more streamlined official name for them, but it’s after 2:00AM so I’m not doing research) then these will look very familiar to you.  Sadly, they’re one of the only things they got right when revamping Lite-Brite for its miniature debut.

This is the tiny battery that comes with your new pen.  The end of your initial experience with Lite-Brite in pen form may face you with the desire to break this battery and consume its innards.  I applaud such innovative ways of showing your disapproval with this brutal bastardizing of a childhood favorite.

Here’s a shot of the pen out of the package, minus the lights, color pegs, background paper, etc.  This is the no frills pen, but still not entirely suitable for the office; that is, unless it’s “casual Friday” and in that case, go berserk!

Here’s our first glimpse of the famous colored pegs that allow you to create your glowing works of art.  Imagine the possibilities!  Imagine the fun!  Imagine yourself doing something more productive!

Here’s a close-up shot, and I’ve got to say, I kind of like these pegs on their own.  My favorite ones are of the light blue variety, although the greens are also rad.  This makes a nice wallpaper photo, too.  If you’re into that type of thing—and judging by the way you’re handling that mouse… I think you are.  I’m watching you.

The lights are on!  We’ve got a blank canvas… let the fun begin!

What is this?  I know… I’ve let you all down.  I wanted to create something really cool, like Frankenstein armwrestling Saddam Hussein for the world’s supply of beef jerky; instead, all I have is this lousy abstract piece.  I could lie, and say that it has deep underlying meaning and merit, that the colors represent deep personal truths, but that’d just be total bullshit.  This thing is impossibly hard to work with.

Let’s look at the pros and cons, shall we?  If you’re actually going to use this thing, you need to have a toolbox nearby.  You’ve got to unscrew two separate pieces to even get started.  Anything designed for kids shouldn’t be that hard to use, nor require that sort of effort.  Only a couple of my pegs actually stick in the holes, the rest fall out randomly, others almost leap out and end up lost in a sea of carpet.  The light isn’t very powerful whatsoever; only the pegs on the far left side will be graced by the light’s dim presence.  The compartment that holds the pegs is tiny, too; which means when you’re finished you have to return each peg individually to keep from losing them.

So, what’s good about the Lite-Brite pen?  Well, you can’t fault them entirely for trying.  It’s a fun concept, although flawed in its delivery.  I’m a very nostalgic person, thus I can’t hate this much-maligned pen.  Although crafting a glowing Abraham Lincoln eating a taco stuffed with $100 bills is out of the question, you can still be creative and kill a couple minutes every now and again.

And, if nothing else, at least I have a new pen!

Overall Grade: C+ 

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