The other day while walking through the toy section at Target, I saw a little plush toy of the iconic Super Mario. I love Mario, so I bought the toy thinking it would be a nice decoration and a great real-world reminder of my favorite video game character. However, I’m sad to say this plushie fell far below expectations, and turned out to be pretty downright subpar compared to the idea of having a real plumber live in my bedroom.
First off, I should point out that the doll is officially licensed by Nintendo, and, to their credit, looks exactly like Mario from the games. Outside of that basic accomplishment, the toy completely fails to capture Mario’s expertise of plumbing — something he is canonically very good at and allegedly makes a living from. When I had to snake the drain in my bathtub last week, seeing the stuffed facsimile of a plumber did nothing to reassure me about the task at hand. Instead, it only made me yearn for a real life live-in plumber who could dispense advice about fixing my shower and also be my friend.
The manufacturers clearly ignored obvious solutions to these shortcomings of their product. A simple button-activated voice box with helpful facts about what drain cleaners to use or how to increase my hot water pressure would bring a rich dimension of realism to the Mario toy that we hardly ever get to see in the games. He could even have motorized joints, making him a useful plunging implement that could work on most standard toilets. Unfortunately, the demands of hardcore Mario fans have fallen on deaf ears as the merchandising team at Nintendo has failed us once more.
With its use of decent fabric, good craftsmanship and stitch work, the Mario plushie I found at Target is certainly a successful children’s toy. But despite Nintendo’s best efforts, there are simply some human emotions that can’t be captured by games or toys, and the long term company of a good, honest plumber is certainly one of them.
Check out the newest episode of the Hard Drive podcast where we watch and discuss every episode of 1989’s The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!