#2. The Superplexus
You know those little wooden mazes you have to tilt to move a ball through? This is the $30,000 version:
"Thanks, but I would have preferred literally anything else."
That's the Superplexus, and it actually looks kind of awesome ...
To an adult.
Look at that kid. He's posing for the picture trying to sell this thing, and he looks downright suicidal.
"Come on, you bastard, make a fart noise. Just one!"
An adult sees that ornate orb and appreciates the craftsmanship of the ramps and the intricate challenge of the puzzle -- because after decades on this mean old earth, we have become disillusioned with the simpler things in life and require increasingly baroque distractions. A kid can stack three pillows on top of each other and happily spend the rest of the day defending Fort Fluffenblock from the evil machinations of the cat.
According to the seller, completing the maze requires a minimum of 425 turns through an obstacle course that "challenges the limits of your manual dexterity and spatial understanding." A single mistake will knock the ball completely off and force you to start over.
Because those are the two things children love most: punishing difficulty curves and exercises in extreme patience.
#1. Luxury Playhouses
Perhaps the most prominent status symbol of the fantastically rich is the home. Some more affluent members of society live in mansions so grand and opulent that they'll never visit half of the rooms inside them. If there's any perfect, cutting metaphor for the empty pretense of the purposelessly rich, it is the sprawling, dusty, unused mansion.
Now, finally, children can have their own!
"Shall we sup at home, dear sister, or abscond to our parent's manse?" - Some little shithead
You're looking at the Grand Victorian Playhouse and two children who, judging by their facial expressions, have already started drinking to quiet the unrest inside. There's no way those kids love their new playhouse. That little boy wants to take his shirt off and stand screaming atop Castle Greyskull; that little girl wants to frolic through Snow White's forest. Neither one of them, if asked what their ideal play environment would be, would answer "A tasteful Craftsman, papa!" But that's what they got. And they'd better appreciate it: It starts at $20,000. Period-correct furniture, a skylight and an additional wing will set you back even more, but really, can you put a price on disappointing your children?
If that old school Victorian look isn't for you -- you want to raise a douchebag, sure, but not an anachronistic one -- the next step up is the $50,000 Mediterranean Villa:
"Our 4-year-old is really into Spanish tile."
It actually comes with connections for cable, electricity and water, with optional air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. That doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. So ... what game are your kids "playing" in here, exactly? Is it the "you can't legally move out for ten more years, but mommy is hungover and your shrill little child's voice is like a dagger in her skull, so kindly go live in the yard" game?
Then there's La Petite Maison, which, at $76,000, costs more than many actual, full-size houses in some parts of the country:
"Doing your own gardening? You must be new money."
In addition to all of the features of the Villa, La Petite Maison sports a full kitchen and a media room. Wait ... a full kitchen? Never mind that your kid could be playing unsupervised with a working stove -- you're encouraging your children to cook for themselves? What's next, cleaning? That's preposterous. But Lupita, your housekeeper, couldn't possibly fit through that tiny doorway -- she has the squat, bulky shoulders of the peasant class. Maybe you should see if her 8-year-old daughter is available on weekends ...
You can read more from Mark at Zug and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Or check out his personal website. Jacopo della Quercia is on Twitter, or Also, check out this article he wrote for the Huffington Post.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Questions for the (Now Bankrupt) Tupac Hologram Company.