The Back Page Challenge

Tis the season for gift giving. What better time to explore the land of tchotchkes? First we found some premiums with promise, then we assembled a cast of 'guest editors' to rate the goods. The results vary, but judging by the keenness of our panel, one thing's for sure: If you send it, they will play. At least for a moment.

Tis the season for gift giving. What better time to explore the land of tchotchkes? First we found some premiums with promise, then we assembled a cast of ‘guest editors’ to rate the goods. The results vary, but judging by the keenness of our panel, one thing’s for sure: If you send it, they will play. At least for a moment.

Go ahead, break a nail!

When three Lowe Roche staffers received their Spiffer Manicure Pen samples, Jenn rolled her eyes and said: ‘Yeah, because my cuticle pusher and emery board take up soooo much room in my purse.’ I was more positive: ‘This product understands me – you know, the

lazy-but-vain girl who only shaves when sex is a sure thing.’ Bryan added: ‘It’s gotten me over my four-in-one-aphobia.’ They all had nice nails for a day and a half. Then they got bored and returned to their usual ragged condition.

Rating: 2.5/5

Rica Eckersley, ‘beauty editor’;

copywriter, Lowe Roche, Toronto

Doodle away

At first I thought, this Etch-a-Sketch pen is just far too cheesy and impractical. I mean, who in their right mind is going to sit in a meeting with this pen and actually twiddle with the two knobs on a cumbersome square? But when I found myself in a boardroom later, I noticed all the people playing with their BlackBerries and Treos (knobs, buttons and a cumbersome box) and suddenly liked the ironic ‘Luddite-ness’ of this piece of swag. As a bonus it goes well with my neon pencil case and

nice-smelling erasers. One minor detracting point: not the best ‘writing instrument,’ but who cares? You can have your PDAs – I’ve got my action adventure pen!

Rating: 4.13/5

Mike Farrell, ‘games editor’; partner, director research & strategy, Youthography, Toronto

Take a picture, it lasts longer…or does it?

Oh, Digigr8 100k pixels mini digital camera [/Webcam.] I really would like to play with you. Your name alone speaks to an almost orgasmic promise of high-tech fun. Not just Digigood or Digimerely-adequate. We’re talking DigiGr8. But alas, despite your diminutive size and keychain convenience, you have thwarted me at every turn. Your battery is dead, your owners’ manual is written in a language close to, but not exactly, Klingon, and your software is not Mac friendly. So, I’m sorry, little buddy. I have no choice but to put you back in your trendy packaging and sentence you to the bottom of my drawer to live in shame with the rest of the shoddily made promotional land-fill.

Rating: 0/5

Scott Park, ‘technology editor’;

art director, Bos Montreal

Keep on holding ‘em

This poker set has amazing technicolour chips that feel nice when you weave them in between your fingers like the poker pros on TV. (I wonder if that’s a nervous habit when one’s about to lose $5,000 and trying to come up with an excuse to tell the spouse.) I also find the second set of matching cards very handy should one need to hide a few up the sleeve. Overall, if I was one to know when to hold ‘em, I’d be interested in this set.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hubert Wat, ‘lifestyle editor’; VP corporate marketing, The Forzani Group, Calgary

It smells!

I like this Aroma-Writes pen. No one out here in Newfoundland has an aromatherapy anything, never mind a pen. My pen is called ‘hope.’ I expect that means the scent is meant to inspire a hopeful attitude. That’s nice. It took me awhile to figure out how to work it. I thought the whole pen would smell like hope but it turns out just the ink does. For those of you wondering, hope smells a lot like a cross between Vicks VapoRub and a sauna. Who knew? Anyway, I think it would make a nice promotional gimmick. Or should I say, I ‘hope’ it would.

Rating: 3.5/5

Donna McCarthy, ‘homes editor’; CD, Dory Advertising, St. John’s, Nfld.

Poker set supplied by Shop Marrin, Toronto. All other products supplied by Hype Products, Richmond Hill, Ont.