Singing Bone Hello Kitty selling for $126K

From ‘McDonald’s urges public to stop profiteering from Hello Kitty Plush Toys’, 27 June 2013, article by Rachel Tan, ST

The McDonald’s Hello Kitty plush toy craze has translated into a opportunities for online sellers to capitalise on the fad. Several advertisements selling the toy were seen just hours after they went on sale early Thursday morning. In one posting on eBay there were 125 bids for the “Singing Bone” model.

News of the online transactions have reached McDonald’s headquarters in Singapore – and the management is not happy about it. “We do not support people buying the Kitties for resale, and we have been regularly removing posts offering such services from our page. We take the conduct of our staff very seriously and if any of them are found to have misappropriated the Kitties for personal gain, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action,” the fast-food chain posted on their official Facebook page.

The toy has also resulted in a number of confrontations among consumers. According to Stomp, at McDonald’s Bukit Batok Central outlet, a policeman was asked to clear a dispute over people jumping queues.

Bad to the bones

The winning bid for a Blackface Kitty is a whopping $126,000 (turned out to be fake), and this being a country where people own million dollar HDB flats and $5 million dollar racecars, I’m not surprised that some fans are willing to fork out a ridiculous sum of money for a plush doll, one that’s not even studded with diamonds to begin with (Just for comparison, the famed Jewel Doll costs US$167,000). I suspect the reason why the Singing Bone is getting everyone in a tizzy is not that it’s limited edition (they all are), but because you can’t COMPLETE the collection without it. For a Singaporean, braving the haze overnight to finish your holy quest for the Last Kitty is a crowning achievement, like putting your hand on a car for days just to drive it home a winner. Kiasuparents folk are selling the same toy for $50. Pfft…amateurs.

McDonald’s ditched the ‘purchase with every meal’ promotion out of good intentions; to stop people from throwing away burgers and wasting food, as evident during the initial 2000 Kittydemic.  But as lucrative as this craze is for the company, you can’t help but wonder what founder Ray Kroc feels about this marketing sacrilege, that instead of rushing for old-fashioned American hamburgers, Singaporeans are saying ‘To Hell with Big Macs’ and thronging stores for Japanese dolls. A psychiatrist in 2000 called it ‘compulsive-acquisition syndrome’, I call it madness. Meanwhile, I can’t even order an Apple Pie from the counter because of these lunatics. How are those senior counter staff going to cope with demanding, violent Kitty addicts? McDonald’s might as well get rid of the tables and chairs and just fill their stores with snaking queue lines and armed guards, like a methadone clinic. They would also do well to equip all staff with parangs and tranquiliser darts to defend themselves in the event of a queue-jumper wrecking havoc like a bull in a china shop.

We should always prepare for Hello Kitty mob violence. In 2000, a glass door in a Boon Keng Macs was SHATTERED by the crowd, causing injuries to 7 customers, with 3 HOSPITALISED. 6 people were also arrested for making a nuisance of themselves. A DOCTOR and a lorry driver got into an ugly scuffle. There were even reports of fainting, traffic congestion and MOLEST. It’s the kind of rowdy looting you would expect in a famine or zombie infestation, yet no such ruckus has been reported for N95 face masks to date. Even if we were threatened with poison gas, I think Singaporeans would queue up calmly for gas mask or antidote supplies. Getting your lungs incinerated is a small matter compared to the shame of your neighbour snagging a Singing Bone while you HAVEN’T.

The Singing Bone, however, is not so much ‘fairy tale’ as it is a macabre horror story of revenge and FRATRICIDE. Few would bother to find out more about its origins and assume that the Kitty was inspired by the Nightmare before Christmas and is just a jolly feline skeleton that goes around distributing candy during Halloween. Like the Sirens that sent Greek sailors to their watery graves, the Singing Bone has lulled the nation into a stupor of compulsive queuing and quick regression into base savagery, flushing decades of courtesy campaigns down the toilet. It’s no coincidence that this Hello Kitty resembles a voodoo doll; it has infected us all with its dark, wicked spell. If you’re a parent, do your child a favour and tell the Singing Bone story at bedtime while he’s hugging the toy. Next thing you know he’ll be setting it on fire or brandishing a crucifix at the cursed thing.

As a money-spinner, Hello Kitty is a phenomenal success. As a branding exercise built around service, Happy Meals and the Golden Arches, it’s a CATastrophe.

Postscript: A fake alert was posted on the McDonald’s Facebook page according to Lianhe Zaobao once Singing Bone sold out, warning black market profiteers that the ‘Management Team’ would be working with the police to bring perpetrators of this outrageous scalping to justice. ‘Dissapointed’ is either a grotesque lapse in spelling or a deliberate combination of ‘dissed’ and ‘disappointment’. As if muckracking at outlets isn’t enough, some resort to impersonation to make sure that if they can’t have their Kitty, NO ONE ELSE WILL.

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Super Import Nights too sexy

From ‘ Car show heats up with sexy bikini girls’, 4 May 2012, article in insing.com

Some are wondering if upcoming car show Super Import Nights (SIN), which features not just cars but also sexy girls, will prove too raunchy – especially for children. SIN is returning for the fourth time this year and will be held at the Singapore Expo from 25 to 27 May.

For the first time, the show is also organising a beauty pageant – Miss SIN Search 2012 – and inviting women to submit their photographs to the website. According to Shin Min Daily News, the pageant rules, first published in late April, required aspiring contestants to submit two kinds of photos; one of them clad only in a bikini, and another of them partying in a club.

As the result, many submissions depicting women in little or no clothing can be seen on the website. The flesh parade has raised the temperature in Internet forums. Cabelle Liew Sheryln commented: “Why so X-rated? Promoting cars or boobs? For a moment, I thought I’m looking at Playboy’s website.”

A Shin Min Daily News reader, housewife Wu Ning Jing, also pointed out that the show was offering tickets priced at $5 for children. The 41-year-old is concerned that children may attend the exhibition and “see things they shouldn’t”.

Bikinis and cars go together like ham and cheese. Today, the word ‘model’ has become standard double entrendre when it comes to car show displays.  Flashy cars have been linked to beautiful women since at least 1970, with the ‘Concours International d’Elegance’ motor show being staged at the appropriately titled Gay World, bringing together ‘the glittering status symbols of modern man’. You won’t see such sexist promotions anymore, but ‘race queens’ as they are known today, are wearing much less than their 70’s counterparts. Automobiles have been feminised by men for as long as anyone could remember. We call our toy ‘a beauty’, talk about her ‘sleek curves’, and how she ‘purrs’ when the engine is ignited.  Placing an actual female next to a car is merely extending its gender, maybe personality, into flesh and bone. In 1936, there was even a model called the ‘Hillman Minx’. In Kill Bill, the Bride calls her ride the ‘Pussy Wagon’.

Biker chic

In 1978, one lucky Lagonda was ridden by seven models during a fashion show at Mandarin Hotel. Even vintage cars that seem to have come right out of the Monopoly game get their share of the ladies.

Herbie is jealous

What would a motor show be without women then? Perhaps a ‘ringside magic show’, or a ‘dance band’ for entertainment (1965)? Steak without the sizzle, fireworks without the noise. Today, the car is not the only hardware that sells better with sex. Tech fairs selling smartphones, TVs, cameras, Playstations, tablets are all employing models to caress products with their fingers, though the likelihood of snaring a babe with every purchase is dismal compared to buying a car. Why didn’t we have such things during the days of VCR tape recorders and mini-compos? If only Borders had thought of this gimmick before they closed shop. The only way to promote the reading habit and sell encyclopedia these days is to have bikini models manning booths at book fairs. You can even make the Oxford Dictionary look sexy if you try hard enough.

Go go gadget gals

But what’s this about a ‘pageant’ then? If you have women vying for a title and using their sex appeal to outdo each other, who cares about the cars? Perhaps Super Import Nights is overselling its sideshow perks, and since it’s harder to be tempted into buying a car than a new set of speakers, having a bikini contest instead of the usual anonymous flesh parade is unlikely to boost sales at a motor show. In fact, with hordes of guys busy gawking and not browsing merchandise, it may even backfire on the organisers if the crowd of horny onlookers turns off genuine car buyers.

Here’s a list of strange things you can get a pretty lady to sell at trade fairs. Nope, no books still.

1) Mouse

2) Keyboard

3) Battery Grip

4) Stuff that look like they belong to another type of lifestyle fair

This time with pornography

From ‘Too much sex in this city for kids’, 24 Jan 2011, Voices, Today

(Tan Boon Kwang): RECENTLY, adult shops and suggestive trailers on television have mushroomed.

…What is alarming are the visually explicit displays/graphics adult shops openly use to attract customers. Nude and semi nude prints of men and women in suggestive poses are displayed on the storefronts along with adult toys of unusual human anatomical shapes, sizes and colour.

They boast names such as “Sex in the City”, “Condomania”, “and I Love Sex” etc which are not only an inappropriate influence on the young, but misleading especially coupled with the store’s visuals.

In many countries, such shops are mandated by laws to use simple names such as “Adult Shop” with a heavy black curtain covering the display glass and on the inside of the door. They are not allowed to blatantly display any adult products, graphics or videos. Young and impressionable children are therefore not exposed to any audio or visual influence of a sexual nature.

A cable channel aired the trailer for an animated feature called Archer showing a couple in their underwear talking about “doing it again”, and maybe “this time with pornography”, so chimed the bra-clad female holding a television remote. This would have been amusing had it not aired at 1.30pm on a school day, when most children are home.

Other cable channels are equally guilty when they advertise their programming with a sampling of different episodes with a common theme, usually romance involving some scenes of passionate kissing, fondling and people in various states of undress.

What could be more misleading and intriguing to a curious child than having an ‘Adult Shop’ with a sinister yet alluring black curtain in front of it? It’s like the Narnia portal wardrobe staring in a child’s face. If your kid asks ‘Daddy, what’s an Adult shop’, are you then going to say ‘Um, it’s a shop that sells adult things… Look,  ice-cream!”. To me such titles for sex shops are more a matter of bad taste than evil magic spell words that cast dirty thoughts into virgin minds like how the word Popcorn! on a tank full of crunchy golden sweetness makes people salivate. Seriously, all this mollycoddling and protecting the innocent and vulnerable will just lead to suppressive procrastination of the inevitable chance encounter with ubiquitous internet porn, no matter how many blindfolds or hoods you smother your kid’s face with every time you pass by the notorious sex-shop stretch of Orchard Road, where ‘toys of unusual human anatomical shapes’ gesture and wiggle like those enchanted brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice,  seduce hapless window-shoppers into the wretched caverns of unholy smut, converting our kids to sex-fiend rapists or upskirt movie producers once they emerge.

Isn’t it strange that despite all this profuse flesh and erotic imagery bombarding us constantly, we’re still lagging in terms of babies? Perhaps we have been too blase about sex for our own good, and if we ever run out of immigrants to churn the economy, one extreme measure would be to take Mr Tan’s censoring stance on taking the glamour off rampant casual sex and chastity belting our kids until they get married and cherish the true propagative meaning of getting naked and penetrating each other. As for sex toys, one doesn’t need to go to town to be exposed. Neighbourhood shopping mall gift shoppes with novelty soap dispensers would do just as well. Ditto for movie trailers featuring unmarried people ‘in various states of undress’.

 

Dolls too sexy

From ‘Would you let your child play with this?’ 16 May 2010, article in Sunday Times

The new tasteless ‘toys’ (dolls) are dressed in halter-neck tops and fishnet bodices, miniskirts that barely cover the private parts, cleavage baring bodysuits and thigh-high boots and some even carry a whip.

Housewife Nicole Lee…at first thought they were simply fashion dolls. Only after studying them for a few minutes did she note their ‘bedroom eyes’ and ‘very sexy faces’.

(Jean Yeung, sociology professor): Dating will become more frequent and start earlier. And  teens may experiment with sex and hook-ups.

(See Yee Thien, teenager): I don’t like it. Children may grow up to want big boobs just like the dolls.

Helloo Dolly

dolls

Brings new meaning to 'dolling' up

A case of ‘experts’ blaming a forest fire on wind direction. Not once in the history of dolls has there been ‘average’ or ‘nerdy’ looking Barbies and Kens. Dolls were always meant to be larger-than -life glamour pusses  and their supposed sexualisation of the tween’s mind is not a simple case of imitation. What about those tweenager books flush with raging hormones and modern day Prince Charmings? Nobody’s censoring them, even if the plots are far less subtle flights of adolescent sexual fantasy. Even licking lollipops are getting adults hot and bothered. Sex aside, animal activists have also gotten in to the act, as seen from this ST forum letter dated 22 Dec 1987  (‘Be fashionable but not cruel’). You can’t please anyone any way you dress them, it seems.



Killer toys

From Toys in cars are dangerous to motorists 30 Sept 1987 ST Forum

Even one box of tissue paper in my rear windscreen is enough to make me feel less than safe when driving. Yet there are motorists who don’t see the danger of placing objects like toy tigers where they should not be.

McDonald’s Pig toy

From ‘Hard to believe McDonald’s promotion was not about the zodiac’, 13 Jan 2010, ST Forum

(Tan Chin Kwang): I WAS born in the year of the Pig. So, when I first saw the toy collectibles in a McDonald’s outlet, I stared at the display for a long while to confirm that I was not mistaken: that McDonald’s had omitted my Chinese zodiac sign.

The pig was not one of the 12 collectible designs representing the dozen animals of the Chinese zodiac. Instead McDonald’s replaced it with Cupid. I wrote to McDonald’s last week to ask why and to say why it was wrong:

- Cupid is not a Chinese zodiac sign;

- While McDonald’s is a halal restaurant, and the reason for replacing the pig is to be sensitive towards the Muslim customers, the exclusion seems to be disrespectful and insensitive to Chinese patrons.

- By replacing the pig, McDonald’s is suggesting that the Muslim community is not tolerant enough to accept it as part of the Chinese zodiac.

McDonald’s said that as Valentine’s Day coincided on the first day of the Chinese New Year, it decided on Cupid.

It also stated that its Doraemon lucky charms promotion was never intended as a zodiac collection. If the 12 designs were not meant to mimic the 12 zodiac signs, why are customers upset?

Stupid cupid

If McDonald’s had done some basic wiki of mythology they would have realised that Cupid is an angel, not an animal, which makes this substitution and excuse painfully obvious, jutting out of the collection like a sore thumb. Even children would be able to spot the odd one out here. The ‘Zodiac’ terminology is also evident; if this collection were intended to be a lesson on the animal kingdom, they would have used ‘chicken’ instead of the specific ‘rooster’ and ‘mouse’ instead of the vermin-sounding ‘rat’.

Nonetheless, Macs eventually brought back the pig due to popular demand. Fans of the toys tend to forget that this is really Doraemon, a cat without ears, in a pig costume. At first glance, without the distinguishing snout or a curly tail, it just looks like a pink cat to me. Accusations of pandering to the Muslim community aside, these lucky charms have worked their magic on McDonald’s sales no less.

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