Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Deceptive Packaging 101: Silly Surgery

I saw this a few days ago while shopping at the local Big Lots. It's a kid's game called Silly Surgery, from a company called Banzai. As you can see from the box, it's pretty much a ripoff of Milton Bradley's classic Operation game, but with 75% less fun. This game's not even electric, so there's no buzzer to sound if you mess up. I guess you're on the honor system.

I'm not going to go into the fact that Big Lots is selling a kid's game that consists of an inflatable bed. With a man on it. With a large gash near his groin.

What interests me is the box art and copy. Judging by the size of the inflatable bed in relation to the kids in the photo, it appears to be 4 and a half, possibly 5 feet long.

But if you look closely you'll see a blurb shouting, "HUGE! Almost 3 feet long!" I wouldn't describe an almost 3 foot long inflatable bed as "huge."

What's hilarious to me is that the cover photo makes the bed look large enough for the kids to lie on comfortably. But if it's "almost" 3 feet long, then that must be a family of Hobbit children. Seriously, look at them. Each one of those kids is shorter than a yard stick. They could almost stand in the palm of your hand.

This is not the first time this Banzai company has intentionally distorted the size of their products. They're notorious for doing this kind of thing. They seem to specialize in backyard inflatable water slides and such. Their box art always deceptively implies that the toy in question is large enough for several kids to play in at the same time, when in reality it's barely big enough for one kid to squat down in. Amazon is chock full of consumer complaints about their products, demanding refunds and lawsuits.

From the info on the back of the box they appear to be a Chinese company, but "Banzai" is a Japanese word. Curious.

I do like the blurb on the back of the box though: 

Insert all inflated wacky objects into the patient belly. Is there a doctor in the house? Draw a card to see which wacky object you have to remove from the patient. Remove the object pictured on the card to perform a successful surgery. Perform the most successful silly surgeries and you win! Paging Doctor Fun! 

That is some pure classic marketspeak right there.


  1. wow! i really dont know what to say that you haven't already said here. what people come up with is amazing really. great post!

    1. Yeah, I came up with a few things that Rod missed (see my comments below)

  2. Cereal companies do a similar thing. The box will show a spoon full of corn flakes that appear to be a good 3 inches wide, then in small text in the corner it'll say "Cereal enlarged to show texture." Really? That's why you blew up the image of your corn flake, so I can see its texture? It's not possible that you were trying to make me think your corn flakes are the size of the average wallet?

    1. What? How small is your wallet Rod? (or is your mouth extra huge????) I was under the impression that my wallet was about average at roughly 3.5 x 4.5 inches and there is absolutely no way that I would have the ability to fit that sucker in my mouth. Maybe if I folded it? But you can't fold a corn flake Rod. So I would have to conclude that the cereal box designers weren't trying to make you think that corn flakes are that large. Seriously Rod, think about it... just think about it. Ok Rod?

      Did you think about it?
      I hope you did.

  3. Hi Rob-- I totally saw this at my bigs lots over the weekend. I got paid today so you know I'm going back to buy it!!!! The kids are gonna go mental over the endless action! I'm unable to tell from your post Rob, but it seems as though you have not purchased or plaid the game yet? Am I right? Let's pull together and get a proper review up, yeah? I'll hit you back with some out-of-the-box details once I get a few procedures under my belt. Looking forward to kicking the crap outa the whole family tonight BANZZZAAAAAI!!!!!

  4. Rob-- let me just say that last night was epic! We busted that thing out and inflated it to a whopping 89cm! We probably could of given it a bit more juice to make the full 91cm that the box claims, but didn't want it to burst (you know what I mean;-). I set the kids to task on inflating all the silly items that you get to pull out of this sucker during game play. When we were all set up we got to the action. The kids could not wait to start extracting the items! We all got our jammies on since we didn't have scrubs. I found several pairs of dishwashing gloves and we even tied some coffee filters over our noses and mouths to get the full effect!!! (plus you can never be too careful right Rob?) Simply put the game was and still is awesome!!! Kids loved it and the Wife was satisfied (as usual).
    I know that you claim that it is a rip off of MB's Operation (and it is), but you go on to claim that it is 75% less fun? Really... 75%? Where did you get your statistics from Rob because I've plaid both Operation and Silly Surgery. Trust me Operation is not that much fun. Plus, I polled the family after we had several runs through S.S. last night to test your 75% (guess?). We each scaled Operation and S.S. on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being highest). Operation got the following scores: 8,7,8.5,6 for an average of 7.375. S.S. got the following scores: 7,6,7.5,8 for an average of 7.125. So your 75% is reaching a bit far don't you think Rob? I'd really like to see where you pulled that number from (since you were so quick to call out Banzai! on their deceptive tactics ;-). So in conclusion Rob, I would say that Banzai!'s Silly Surgery is PUrE SiLLY WAckY ZanNY FuN!!! Oh, and you were also correct about not recommending kids lay on the bed because it would absolutely damage the product (not to mention the patient is pretty much attached to the bed... so good luck gettin' him to roll over LOL. not to mention he just went through major surgery, so moving him wouldn't be a good idea anyway ;-). Fortunately the kit does come with a repair patch should the device suffer any damages from misuse as you have implied.

    P.S. I gave MB's Operation a 6 because I never thought that their game was much fun. The pieces are all white and tiny(really small Rob... were are talking tweezers here). S.S. items are much bigger and way more realistic, colorful and FUN. Plus you get to get in there with your own hands!


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