The Good: Cute, Well-made, Somewhat educational
The Bad: Doesn't so much DO anything, Expensive
The Basics: Cute, mildly educational, but a little pricey at $9.00, I named/bought Fernando the Mexican Free-tail Bat from Platte River Trading Company to prevent my wife from getting a ridiculous hat.
[NOTE: This review was originally written two summer’s ago when I was a newlywed and had bought this for my wife on our first cross-country trip together. I decided to keep the original language intact because it captured a fun time in our life together! Enjoy!]
I am still, it seems, getting used to having a wife again. Having a companion for life means some changes and that point was driven home to me while on my recent cross-country trip with my wife when we made stops at places like the Meramec Caverns in Missouri. There, we found ourselves waiting around the lobby of the cavern for our tour to start and killing some time in the massive gift shop. In that type setting, I would traditionally look at the books or photographs. My wife started trying on all of the hats and looking through the stuffed animals. It should not have been a surprise to me that Fernando came home with us.
Fernando is a little plush Mexican Free-tail Bat toy made from Platte River Trading Company. I spotted him shortly after my wife tried on a plush hat that made it look like a giant fluffy bat was devouring the back of her skull. I saw her wearing that and I said to myself, "Gosh, I hope she doesn't want me to shell out money for THAT." Note to self: Bring more money on future cross-country trips! My wife's obsession with bats netted her another one of her lifelong dreams realized with the acquisition of Fernando; she now had a stuffed bat to join her other stuffed animals. I ought to be worried; I got her a stuffed seahorse on our honeymoon; if I'm not careful, we'll end up with a whole room of stuffed animals in the future. And to be fair, the Mexican Free-tail Bat is cute.
Platte River Trading makes plush toys based on various animals in the South and Midwest in the United States, though they are actually manufactured in China. These stuffed toys are designed to look cute and have an educational tag that details exactly what the animal the toy is based upon behaves and how it looks. In the case of the Mexican Free-tail Bat Platte River Trading toy, this is a little brown bat-shaped stuffed animal with two hard plastic eyes and a little plastic nose embedded in its face. It looks very much like a small bat with its flexible wings, furry back and tiny feet and ears. The feet are not terribly well-detailed, but the wings are stitched to have the appropriate veins and bones, so this is very recognizably a bat.
The stuffed toy has a fourteen inch wingspan and is six and a half inches nose to tip of tail and it is about three inches tall. The toy has flexible wings that allow it to take up more depth if one wants it to. The two plastic eyes on the front are all that adorn this toy and it makes the Mexican Free-tail Bat look cute and cuddly. It has a nice little fur ring under its chin that is apparently a distinctive mark on this type of bat in reality.
Mexican Free-tail Bat as a Platte River Trading toy is composed primarily of polyester fibers.
Mexican Free-tail Bat, given that it is based upon a cute little mammal, does not have much that it could be accessorized with. Instead, it has a cardboard tag that tells the buyer all about the bats and where they live. The educational value of this toy is minimal, though, as the information is very basic and not at all remarkable. This makes sense as it is supposed to be a cute toy for kids (the toy itself is recommended for children three and above).
Mexican Free-tail Bat is fun, as I've discovered, by my wife throwing it at me while I was driving and shouting "There's a bat in the car!" Sigh. Kids may get a lot out of flapping the bat's wings and using their imagination, but essentially this toy just hangs around. It is cuddly, so it might have comfort value for young children who are afraid of things other than bats. Actually, considering how cute it is, this might be a good, nonthreatening way for kids to become acclimated to the idea that bats can be our friends. Or it makes a great gift for adults who want to remember a special trip to her first cave and will still make one comfortable with being seen with her in public (which could not be said of the bat hat!).
Platte River Trading toys appear to have been around for almost twenty years, but given that I have not been into stuffed animals in that time, it is not truly a surprise that I had not heard of them before I bought my partner the Mexican Free-tail bat. The Mexican Free-tail Bat and other Platte River Trading plush toys appear to have no real collectible value, though there might be a whole subculture of people who collect them that I do not know about. Odds are, it is just as it appears, a series of plush toys that are not at all limited with none that truly are rarer than the others.
Our Mexican Free-tail Bat Fernando is cute, but not much more. Now that we have returned home, my wife put a safety pin in his back so she could hang it from a hook in our closet and every few mornings, she looks at him, smiles and says, "That was a fun trip." Given that almost none of our photographs of the Meramec Caverns came out, this might be the best I could hope for.
For other plush toys or dolls, check out my reviews of:
Lady from Lady And The Tramp
Giant Microbes Bad Breath
Tonner Bella Swan Twilight doll
For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.