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The Kai-lan suitcase arrived yesterday and it's exceeded all of my expectations. Maybe I have some trouble properly estimating sizes in my head, but it ended up being much larger than I expected. I had figured that it would only be big enough for Maddie to carry around some knickknacks at best, but I think we can actually fit a good chunk of her clothes in it for real. In addition to size, the quality was also much better than I thought it would be. The image on the front isn't just inked but actually made on that puffy/shiny plastic to give it some dimension and there are no visible flaws in the construction anywhere that I can see.

Sometimes, I envy people who grow up nowadays in thus current cheap manufacturing boom rather than when I did in the 80's. I still haven't quite adjusted to just how inexpensive some items have become because of China and other developing countries. Take stuffed animals for an instance. I think most of you reading this will be around my age meaning that you grew up during a time when stuffed animals could be ridiculously expensive. Even relatively small and mass-produced teddy bears or whatnot would easily cost $20 a pop when I was a kid. I still remember going into a disney store and the huge markups there pushed most of the stuffed animal characters well into the $35 range. A huge oversized pooh bear was was over $150.

All of this began to change somewhere in my college days as China began to ramp up its production. All of a sudden you would see stuffed animals in a lot of places that didn't necessarily carry them before, and chucked into large bins like at drug stores. They would be huge compared to past offerings and would cost pennies on the dollar. This happened to a lot of manufactured goods but I remember tracking the progression most clearly with toys and such. This has progressed down to where I ended up paying $38 (including shipping for what was a very large and bulky item) for a quality character suitcase which I would normally expect to either be crappy or cost twice what it did.

I guess the takehome message is that I think Maddie will love it. Hell, I practically love it and I'm neither a little girl nor a watcher of Kai-lan. I'm not quite tempted to take it with me when I go to my next gaming convention or anything, but it ended up being a very satisfying purchase all around. Now all I have to do is decide when to give it to her. I don't think Connie and Jeff have told her we're going to Disney world yet, which might be just as well since I'm not sure it would mean anything to her anyway. I can either give her the suitcase sometime soon or wait until it's much closer to departure time and she actually knows we're all going somewhere.

On a sidenote, one of Connie's bridesmaids from her wedding is getting married herself tomorrow and Connie is returning the favor. Maddie has also been roped into being a flower girl, something which does fill me with more than mild trepidation. I can easily picture her deciding halfway down the aisle to turn around or cut through the pews instead, or something similar. Anyway, half the family is going to go to the wedding just to watch Maddie do her thing and maybe that would be a good place to give her the suitcase. If nothing else, it would probably make for a nice photo opportunity since she'll be all dressed up anyway. If that ends up happening, I'll pop up a few of the pictures I take.

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