January 11th, 2005

Red stapler

I'm Twitching

Umm. I've just spent probably half an hour staring at something that scares the living daylights out of me. I blame a story in tonight's BoingBoing.net. Frankly, this scares me even more than the late breaking news coverage that the US is encouraging the formation of another generation of death squads overseas ... but that'll wait for tomorrow, apparently. Because the horror of this other story is so much creepier to me, because this one resonates personally. Meet ... The Cubes.™

They can't advertise it for what it really is, for obvious licensing reasons, but The Cubes is recognizably a collectible Fisher-Price playset based on Office Space. OK, the heads are box-shaped instead of round, and the articulation's a little better than Fisher-Price bothers with on their kids toys, but anybody dispute the playset similarities? Now consider this. The manufacturer's website for The Cubes™ gives away three PDFs full of additional motivational posters, screenshots for the desktop computers, sales graphs, desk calendars, office posters (including spot-on miniature recreations of several legally mandatory workplace posters), and various office paperwork ... including a TPS report. And the desktop icons page includes the famous red stapler (which, for those of you who didn't know, is now actually offered by Swingline). On the other hand, oddly enough, it doesn't seem to come with an HP LaserJet printer/fax machine. Maybe they're saving that for another expansion set. Or maybe the Cubes™ have already destroyed theirs for saying "PC LOD LTR" too many times.

Supposedly they're available in stores as well, but Archie McPhee sells them online for the surprisingly reasonable price of $12.95 per set. Four of the sets come with one employee and their cube; the other set includes no cube, just additional accessories and four more employees. So you could put together the whole collectible set (so far) for $65 plus shipping. But you'd only have four cubicles. The full horror of this is lost unless you create a whole tabletop cubicle maze. The web site includes graphics (including one introductory flash animation) that show whole cubicle farms of sixty or so cubicles, an absurd and ridiculous expense. But it's vaguely mesmerizing to look down onto ... roughly the way a small bird is mesmerized by a snake. As in, my eyes are still wide with horror.

Of course, the old roleplaying gamer in me wants to come up with any imaginable excuse to write rules for these and use them to run some modern horror roleplaying game. All I'd have to do is find a source for 2-3/4" monster figurines ... *shudder.* And to think that my old regular crowd of gamers were afraid to let me run a Wraith: The Oblivion campaign. "Wait'll they get a load of me now," bwa hah hah. No, I can't do it. Never mind the money, this is too creepy even for me to do. Hmm. I suppose it bodes ill for my future employability that I can take the whole Cthulhu/Azathoth mythos, The King in Yellow, and The Great God Pan totally in stride, confront detailed reports from the Rwandan genocides with only mild sadness, and find your average horror movie to be as boring as watching paint dry, but this scares the living crap out of me? Suddenly I feel very much like an Addams.
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