|The AMAZING Instant Slime Hag!
Like vultures of the sea, they descend on the dead and dying, worming their way
through flesh until only bones remain. They are amongst the last survivors of the
earliest fish, their once-standard anatomy now so alien that it took a couple years for
man to figure out that they weren't worms. Their skull is little more than a "donut" of
cartilage, and their spine so undeveloped that they only barely qualify as vertebrates.
Their family name, "Myxinidae", is derived from the greek "Myxo" meaning
"slime"....and boy have they ever earned it.
Indeed, there are few creatures more suited to the children's market than the humble
hagfish, and it never ceases to amaze me that a creature so unique can have such
little recognition in the public eye. Their tanned hides are what we call "eelskin" and
Koreans somehow know how to render them edible, but where are the toys? Where
are the cereal mascots? Where is the foam rubber puppet singing songs about long
division on "nick junior?"
...Alas, while I have spent almost every waking minute of my life subconsciously
combing the pop culture desert for examples of Myxinidae merchandising, only one
product has ever reared its phallic, tooth-lined head at me to sputter "HAGFISH!"
from the seas of generic plush koalas and rubber grasshoppers that so clog the
animal-toy market, and it is a product conceived for the singular design of making a
horrible, horrible mess and getting thrown away.
I suppose, technically, it doesn't get any more appropriate than that.
"Instant Slime Hag" comes to us from that special little oasis where toy nerd
meets science nerd, known to the masses as "The Discovery Channel Store".
Priced at a completely reasonable six dollars each, my four jars of Slime Hag
actually sat around for a good five years before I decided to write an article about
them. Yes, you have been waiting half a decade to read about my Slime Hags,
and you didn't even know it.
If your mind wasn't blown just now, it must have already done so out of sheer
Contained within each plastic jar are exactly three (3) things: a sticky rubber fish,
a packet of powdered phlegm, and an instruction sheet. Look at each thing
carefully, and make sure you enjoy it, because they are apparently worth no less
than two dollars each and I purchased no less than four of them without even
knowing what you were supposed to do with them first...and why should I have
to? The happy little hagfish on the label is practically SCREAMING "you need
exactly four of these!".
The most important element, of course, is the slime hag itself. It exists only to be there
and look like a slime hag, but without it this would be like any other cup of instant neon
snot with a funny name. I would honestly rather have a regular-rubber hagfish than a
"sticky" rubber hagfish, but as far as accuracy goes, this thing would be mighty hard to
top...it even has rows of little teeth sculpted on the inside of its gaping mouth.
The real thing, of course, is considerably less orange and considerably less
pocket-sized, with the largest species reaching 4-5 feet long. In this rare mugshot
(courtesy Tammy Frank and Justin Marshall) you can get a pretty good look at the
animal's incredible squishiness, and distinctly un-fish-like head. The round, gaping
hole is easy to mistake for a mouth, but is actually a primitive nose with a single large
nostril. Hagfish are the only fish known to man with the ability to sneeze, and do so to
avoid suffocation in their own mucous. Below the nose is the tightly puckered,
sphincter-like mouth that conceals a rasping, tooth-covered plate.
As you may have surmised, hagfish are best known for their scavenging habits. They
will even swarm by the thousands over the sunken carcass of a whale. One purpose
of their legendary slime is to lubricate themselves as they slip in and out of another
creature's orifices as well as suffocate the near-dead and reduce struggling. The
hagfish, however, is not a strict scavenger. It spends much of its time foraging for
small, live crustaceans and other fresh prey.
But enough about flesh-eating. The specialty of hagfish isn't what goes into them, but
what comes out....
Lead hagfish-slime-specialist Dr. Douglas Fudge has called the little rascals
"super-athletes" of slime production. "Throw a medium sized hagfish into a
five-gallon bucket", says Fudge, "and it can turn pretty much all the water in the
bucket to slime. Almost instantaneously". Fudge's research into the slime reveals it to
be one of the most sophisticated adhesives in nature, containing unique fibers that
lock together on a molecular level and may have many practical applications for the
future of man.
Now, that's all well and good, but can we really simulate the magic with ten cents
worth of crap in a six-dollar plastic jar? Discovery Kids thinks we can, and for the
sake of their lives they had better hope and pray that it pleases me because I'm
hungry for blood and the time has come to find out the truth...
Steps one and two of the instruction pamphlet tell us to "Cut open the packet of
powdered slime." and "Pour the packet of powdered slime into the canister with the
slime hag." This creates a well-contained but strangely depressing mess as sticky
orange log meets neon pink sand in jar. I swear I had a dream about something like
this, but it was probably too revolting to recount here.
Step three - the filling of the water - may seem like the most important step, but trust
me: the most important step is four. Putting the lid back on before you flip it upside
down and shake it can be a lesson hard-learned indeed.
Unfortunately, taking this photo apparently took two seconds too long as a fair amount
of powder had already sunken to the bottom and fused into a hard, rubbery button long
before I started jumping up and down with it. Regardless, I continued with the final few
steps, tearing myself away from the magic for 120 agonizing seconds before opening
it up again and finding....
Knowing that I sort-of screwed it up, I'm inclined to ponder whether or not this is what
the manufacturer intended. No amount of "kneading" made it any more manageable,
and it definitely wasn't something that any child should ever be allowed to "play" with
even if they could manage to figure out how. If they were expecting me to make the
sort of slime that Skeletor dunked Buzz-off in at every oppurtunity, then they have
failed miserably. However, if the intent was to simulate contact with an actual hagfish,
I think it's safe to say that they've come closer than any other toy company could ever
Congrats, Discovery kids: you have cornered the market on virtual fishworm spunk.
Dr. Fudge would be proud.