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Product Review: Fortamajig and Connectables

We live in cynical times, my friends — times in which we’ve sadly grown accustomed to the folly of trusting in the word of our public institutions. Whatever a corporation or a piece of legislation tries to tell us it is, we’ve learned to quickly expect the opposite. Clear Skies Initiative? Please. Best Buy? Not hardly.

But there’s one name you can trust, and I’m going to give it to you now. Are you ready? Here it is.

The Happy Kid Company.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Like the name of the company that the skeevy toy salesman played by Dan Aykroyd in the old SNL skit might have worked for? I know, I know. But hear me out, because I have real, empirical proof behind my claim. Check it out: The Happy Kid Company sent me its two flagship products, the Fortamajig and Connectables, and after taking them out of their bags and using them, I now have a happy kid. No — a very happy kid.

Just what is a Fortamajig, you want to know? I’m glad you asked. Observe:

Okay, so maybe that picture doesn’t do this colorful bag of awesome total justice. Maybe some extra explanation is in order, so let me try to explain. According to the official Happy Kid Company marketing materials, it’s “an 8×8 foot square of durable nylon ripstop,” which doesn’t really sound like all that much fun, except for the fact that they’ve added a mesh window and approximately 400 velcro loop tabs, so you can attach it to pretty much anything and make an instant fort.

Seriously — instant. Well, maybe not literally instant, but in less than 10 minutes, you can go from sadly fortless to 100% Fortamajigged, even if you’ve never so much tried to say the word “Fortamajig” before. When I opened the box, I had my doubts; I wasn’t sure what to do with the Fortamajig, or how the Connectables related to it.

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But once you unfurl that thing, you’re halfway to Happy Kid paradise.

Oh, and about the Connectables — as you may have guessed, they’re nylon squares and rectangles, equipped with the same velcro loop tabs as the Fortamajig, used for expanding and connecting it with various wall hangings, doorknobs, and pieces of furniture.

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To wit:

As toys go, they’re stupidly simple — which is why they’re so cool. I realize I’m sounding over-the-top positive with this writeup, but hand on heart, I’m totally sincere; this is a product you spend a few minutes assembling, and literally hours enjoying with your kids — and it’s versatile enough to use countless times before they get tired of it.

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Seconds after it went up — actually, even before we were done figuring out where we were going to attach all the loops — my three-year-old was curled up underneath the Fortamajig, pretending she was a guinea pig underneath the night sky, and my 11-month-old was crawling around at top speed, squealing like a maniac, with a face full of joy. If you have kids, or know kids, these make fine gifts…

…Except for the fact that, together, they cost around $160. Now, given what the time and materials would cost you to build something similar, and the endless replay value, I don’t think that’s too much to pay for these, but still, a certain amount of sticker shock is understandable, and the price does make it sort of unlikely that you’re going to be giving these as gifts to anyone outside your immediate family unless you’re in the McCain tax bracket. But if you can afford it, and if you’re tired of your kids taking the couch cushions and leaving them stacked on the living room floor, or you’re looking for a way to distract them from pestering you about building them a treehouse — or if you’re just looking for something that’ll make your young ones go nuts with happiness — then you’ve found the products you seek. They’re kid-tested, Dadnabbit approved.