In 1996, Tyco launched a toy called the Tickle Me Elmo that cost a mere $30 (£15). If you're not familiar with it then check it out on Wikipedia. It was so popular that parents attacked a Wal-Mart shop assistant to get one of the last ones on offer, and there were reports that it was being sold for as much as $1,500 (£750) in newspaper classifieds. Ten years later and Fisher-Price has launched a new Tickle Me Elmo -- the TMX Elmo.
It's called the TMX Elmo because this is the tenth version, thus X, and as always it's very popular. Indeed, it's currently out of stock at Amazon.co.uk, and you'll be lucky to find it at Argos or Woolworths -- we know, because we tried to buy one. After hours of driving through the English countryside we came upon a small Toys 'R' Us in Suffolk that only had one left and we snapped it up faster than you can scream, "Yes, yes, yes, I've got one, I really have got one!"
We carefully transported it back to an undisclosed location where we carefully took it out of its huge Toys 'R' Us bag. The box is exciting in itself because it has signs all over it that say things like 'Warning: may cause uncontrollable laughter' and 'Don't lift'. After calming down and carefully considering the best plan of action we slowly opened the box, at which point something very unexpected happened. We heard Elmo start laughing and saying, "Don't tickle me!"
At first we thought we had accidentally activated Elmo and all hell was going to break loose, but it was a switch on the box that made it talk. It's similar to those Christmas cards that play music when you open them, except that it's ten times better. The excitement at this point was almost uncontrollable -- we wondered what on Earth Elmo would do if even the box had electronics built into it. So we took him out and turned him on, then stood him upright on the floor.
We then touched his stomach and what happened next is probably the best thing we have ever seen. Elmo started to wave his hands about and roll around the floor, all the while laughing his head off. Crave spurns all those who aren't instantly charmed at the sight of Elmo laughing and jiggling about, but his real party piece is that having fallen over, he stands up, like some furry Terminator, muttering "Don't tickle me."
It's truly a joyous toy and if you're lucky enough to find one, a brilliant Christmas gift. The TMX Elmo costs around £30 to £40. The more cynical among you will just have to wait for Critic Me Statler & Waldorf. -AL