*DISCLAIMER: Yes, I realize it’s a lizard in the photo and not a snake. Many people, including me, don’t like to look at snakes. Please keep reading.
You gotta love boys and all the stuff, including living creatures, that they decide to share a space with. Throughout my son’s growing up years, two Roborovski hamsters, a guinea pig, a turtle, two green anole lizards, and a small black snake called his monkey-themed bedroom home.
The best things about my son’s beloved creatures were that they did not require assembly and required minimal housekeeping. Plus, they provided hours of entertainment. The same cannot be said for the Hot Wheels Slimecano that my son received for his tenth birthday.
The Slimecano was a formidable volcano-like apparatus composed of several plastic pieces that snapped or otherwise fit together. The pieces were accompanied by directions that explained which parts attached to which other parts. All these combined to form race tracks, slime reservoirs, ramps, and other components that, when completely assembled, resulted in an ominous gray, brown, and orange tripod-like structure down which my son could send his cars. There was somehow a skull or dragon head involved in the design of the thing, although I don’t remember the significance of that, other than maybe it was there to warn parents in “Jolly Roger”-style of the gooey mess that was about to be made.
An unsettling slime concoction was key to the Slimecano. I don’t remember if it was a slime we made at home at the kitchen sink, or if it was included in the package already prepared in packets, but it was there, a thick, gloppy translucent orange dotted with dark specks. The slime provided the magic of this toy.
For a fleeting five minutes, my son played with the Slimecano. He was mesmerized watching his car careen down the plastic track… until it hit the slime and needed to be pushed through an oozing river of the stuff and then guided around a puddle at the bottom of the track. This all happened to the same unfortunate car (or fortunate, I guess, depending on your age and outlook). After all, the wheels on a car can only move when they are not embedded with slime. My son soon figured out that this was a toy that required him to sacrifice his least favorite car. Send that car down the Slimecano once, clog up the wheels, tire treads, and undercarriage, and presto! game over.
Then came a very unmagical clean-up time. After snapping apart the Slimecano, my son discovered the entire apparatus was encrusted with the orange goo. So was the floor. And his mom’s patience. As he dismantled the game, washed off each piece, and packed the plastic collection back in the box, we knew that the Slimecano may have just had its one and only use. After all, cleaning the Slimecano was a messy chore, especially when compared to the directions for putting away a dead snake: Lift from stairs. Toss down hill behind house. Tell Mom to open her eyes.