Monday, November 10, 2008

Weird Weekend Spending: Sponge Animals

Of all the presents I brought back from Botswana (and yes, that is where I went for my expensive vacation and the post is in draft and someday I will finish it and share the story with you all!) the ones that seemed to be the biggest hit were some little sponge animals for my niece and nephew. You've probably seen similar ones: little capsules that you soak in water so they expand into animal shapes. I gave each of the kids their own little box of them, and they were just enthralled watching the tiny sponges pop out into little giraffes and lions and elephants.
They wanted to just keep dumping more and more capsules into the water. We told them not to use them all up at once but of course that didn't work for long! They finished up all their sponge animals, and a couple of weeks later, my mom called me to say that my nephew had liked them so much that he wanted some more and had asked her if "maybe Auntie X can go back to Africa and get us some more of those little animals?"
I had a good laugh at that, but it was so cute that I immediately began to search for closer, less expensive places to buy them. I went into a couple of toy stores-- the first one didn't have the little sponge animals, but they did have some eggs that hatch into large animals after soaking in water for a few days. I thought there might be an attention span issue there, but I bought a couple of them anyway. At another store, I found some more sponge capsule thingies more like what I was looking for-- they expanded into airplanes, not animals, but again, I bought some anyway. Finally, I found a store that sold various animals and dinosaurs in expanding sponge capsule form. They were exactly what I was looking for, so I bought several packages of each kind.
When I got home and totaled up my purchases, I was surprised to find that I'd spent about $32 on expanding animals! It occurred to me that there could be a market for some kind of gag gift involving little sponge dollar bills that expand when you soak them in water-- and then they dissolve into nothing! But anyway, $32 doesn't seem like all that much, really, to make my niece and nephew happy for a few hours... and as you'll see when I finally do that post about my vacation, it's much cheaper than going back to Africa!


Anonymous said...

"...go back to Africa and get us some more of those little animals?" LOL!!

If you had posted before you buy them, I could have directed you to dollar stores! Well, for $1 each pack of 12 capsules!

I got a few packets of capsule "farm animals", "African safari", "domestic pets" & "endangered wildlife" for my friends' kids as stocking stuffer last year. They love them more than the real gift - watches and electronic toys!

Another toy that is always a big hit with kids are Mexican Jumping Beans. They are so hard to find these days, however.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me where you got the sponge airplanes?

Madame X said...

I was doing all my shopping along Court Street and Smith Street in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood in Brooklyn, but I don't remember the store names! And I had to pay cash so I don't have any saved receipts as a record either... sorry!

HAwsumb said...

I returned in June from 3-years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana. I absolutely loved my time there. I'll be looking forward to your post about your vacation - I hope you hit all the highlights :)

frugal zeitgeist said...

What an awesome trip! Looking forward to reading about it.

Dolly Iris said...

Dollar stores usually have these.

WriterGirl said...

When I was in Brooklyn at the Transit Museum I bought a little packet of capsules that turn into a train (engine, cars, caboose, etc.) They were on sale for $2.50 - bought a set to give to a couple of honorary nephews with their other XMas presents. Haven't tried them out yet, but I assume they work the same.