Postcards From The Hedge

Queen Ant

One of my early concepts for this blog was proposing ideas for semi-serious kids products. In one widely ignored post, I offered the Poop Snoop for detecting dirty diapers. I think even my mom didn’t read it.

The inventions theme was borne from the conviction that you can make millions designing solutions to very specific problems.

During our first floundering months of parenthood, my wife and some friends kept coming up with entrepreneurial gold. Typically, we’d forego the non-disclosure agreement and just extract deadly serious promises to not. tell. anybody. I’m pretty sure Facebook started out the same way.

My favorite idea was to bottle fenugreek tea, so women could pump up the mam-glands at work or wherever. The genius lay in the name: MaterniTea. But it was taken. Then we came up BoobyBrew™. Also TitTea™, pronounced titty, as in, “Yo, lemme getta sippa sum TitTea?” But I guess like inmates on Georgia’s death row, the product suffered from poor execution. We’re still waiting to hear back from the angel investors.

So how annoying is it when a couple of Harvard educated architects go and create the most original kids toy I’ve seen in a year? Postcards from the Insect World A to Z is among the more unique presents you could give a kid. Janny Baek and Thomas McMahon are the brains and brawn, respectively, behind the MU Design Company. They made the Postcards series to amuse their kids who, I can only guess, are tough customers. Lucky us.

Orchid MantisEach postcard has an eye-popping image of the insect “microcosmic universe.” Thanks to some clever tweaks with focus and shadows, the pictures have a depth that flirts with 3D. I initially thought these were photographs of carefully constructed models. But it’s all generated using some slick computer modeling program. Fucking architects, man.

Here’s the nutshell version of what the postcards pack:

  • an insect themed alphabet set
  • crazy-ass facts about insects
  • also some fairly basic (but no less important) insect facts
  • an epistolary narrative about explorations of the insect world*
  • meticulous design and brag-worthy eco-credentials in all aspects of production
  • winking references to drugs and polygamy that only parents will pick up on
  • cardstock so thick the deck could stop a bullet
  • works on multiple levels, so will reëngage developing minds

Okay so I’m lying about the sex and drugs. But the rest of that shit is spot-on.

The MU recommends their postcards for ages 3+, but my newly minted two year-old was cheerfully identifying the jewel beetle and orchid mantis et al. Almost a year later, my son is all into the alphabet, so he’s revisiting the postcards with an eye towards spelling.

Retail locations are limited to museum gift shops and boutique toy stores, but you can always order via The MU’s web site, at $16-a-pop. And if you have any spectacular parenting inventions to pitch, the comments section is open.

Note: MU Design provided me with a product sample for review purposes. And I have no intention of returning it.

* If you read “epistolary” without knowing its meaning but didn’t look it up, you are setting a bad example.
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