Online Window Shopping with The Bradford Exchange – World Wide Wednesday

Someone once said ‘Money can’t buy you happiness but it can you chocolate and that’s kind of the same thing‘ and in this day an age, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to buy something to treat yourself or someone you hold dear; and with Christmas just around the bend (and don’t we know it), online shopping is a crucial and useful tool to have at your disposal. What with the big contenders like Amazon and eBay at your beck and call, you can buy yourself anything from a new CD or a smart jacket to big household appliance like a washing machine or vacuum cleaner. If you want something more specialised, you go to a specialised stockist. IWOOT is a fantastic place to find gifts for those who you just can’t find gifts for, I can’t recommend them enough. They sell kitsch, quirky and useful gadgets and household items that you could do without but you want anyway. Most of the time they have offers and their home delivery is prompt. But, this isn’t an article about how good IWOOT is, but more or less how good an online store can be. I have done my research and even though I personally haven’t used their services, there are a few pages on the internet dedicated to feedback about The Bradford Exchange; it’s not a pretty sight. So with that in mind, ‘People of The Internet’ I thank you for going over this already and saving me the job of actually having to buy something.

I will add that I did ‘review’ this almost four years ago on my own ‘Observation Blog’ and I was going to update some of the core text and undo all the hard work the spellchecker did when it clearly was on holiday. Simply it would have been a word for word copy and paste job in a vain attempt at recycling some old jokes and then I’d just sit and see where it went. That was until I looked back at the original Bradford website and noticed things had changed. It was at that time I thought ‘I’ve got to re-review this’ and ‘I can still get away with recycling jokes.’



The Bradford Exchange is an online stockist that provides novelty gifts; they are normally advertised in TV magazines so you may have already come across something they sell already. Whereas IWOOT claims their products are ‘Something you don’t need but really, really want,’ The Bradford Exchange’s tagline should be ‘something you don’t need – fullstop.‘ Just imagine this:

So when you’ve risen out of your John Wayne bed sheets in the morning to eat your John Wayne toast that came out of the John Wayne toaster; presented lovingly on a plate from the John Wayne ‘Hero For A Century Collector 100th Anniversary Plate Collection’ and sliced with a knife from the ‘Hard-fired porcelain John Wayne Knives Collection’; all washed down with some orange juice from out of a glass that belongs in the ‘Lone Cowboy John Wayne 100th Anniversary Glass mug set’ (with a whisky chaser in a ‘Handcrafted John Wayne Shot Glass’ might I add?); whilst you listen to ‘America Why I Love Her’ billowing proudly from the ‘John Wayne Authentic Handcrafted Radio’; until you glance at the date on the ‘John Wayne Perpetual Calendar Collection’ and then at the time on your ‘Illuminated 3D John Wayne Cuckoo Clock’ realising you’re late, so you have to pick up your ‘John Wayne Straight Shooter’ and your rifle in the ‘John Wayne: Legends of the West replica rifle sheath’, turn off your ‘John Wayne: American Legend 16-inch Accent Lamp’ before walking out of your ‘John Wayne Personalised Welcome Sign’ emblazened front door and finally climbing into the driving seat of your John Wayne Van to do your day job of being John Wayne, then you absolutely have to purchase the ‘John Wayne: An American Hero Illuminated Tribute Sculpture.’ Limited to only 10,000 units and costing a reasonable £99.96, there’s absolutely no reason why you should miss an opportunity like this!

I wish I was making this up

I wish I was making this up

But no! You’re a bigger John Wayne fan than that and you have the £125 ‘Framed Illuminated Portrait Of The Duke Canvas Print’ to prove it. How do you possibly prove it to lesser John Wayne fans though? That’s right, you can spend almost £200 on a cuckoo clock with John Wayne’s face on it!

What about’s jewelry then? There’s no way that can be ruined? I mean, fashionable items suit different personalities and you’d be correct if anything Bradford sold was fashionable. Recently becoming engaged I know first hand that buying a ring is a difficult task, especially as a gift. Imagine your delight when you get given the 7 birthstone ring with matching personalisation for all the six kids you inevitably have, likely all from different fathers and all with different name variations with the suffix -ayden.

I don't think I've ever had so much fun with a personalisation option before

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with a personalisation option before

Or this ring for the man in your life who just can’t afford those knuckle dusters but you still want him to have a chance when someone “spills ‘is pint.”

Suitable for use with Burberry and Special Brew

Suitable for use with Burberry and Special Brew

How abouts gambling? You surely must love gambling right? Bradford has the perfect product for you; this gambling penchant with actual moving parts and ‘hit the jackpot’ embossed on the back for when you need to show yourself what you need to do when you spend £70 on something like this.

Are you a winner?

Are you a winner?

Okay, let me get one thing clear. Dolls are weird enough as it. With their glazed over eyes, ridiculous facial expressions and limp limbs it’s hard not to see why they aren’t in your nightmares already. As collectibles, they are sometimes highly sought after, I can understand that. One or two is fine but once you start going into double figures, suddenly being in close proximity to them all can make you feel a tad uncomfortable. After tracing my steps from The Observation Blog, the number of these added up to grand total of one. You could only buy one and one only. Even that one was a bit weird but that was that, end of conversation. However, one quite clearly wasn’t enough! What I don’t understand is why anyone with an iota of sanity would consider this a thing.

This should come with a warning

This should come with a warning

Or this…

Like seriously, I'm warning you

Like seriously, I’m warning you

How about’s this one?

Make it stahp!

Make it stahp!

I counted them all and now you can buy almost thirty similar products! I just can’t seem to grasp the concept of a group of tight-lipped business men and women sat around a table for a discussion on ‘the next hot products’ and they came up with these. And to add fuel to the fire – ironically, the same fire that could have sunk this Titanic a long time ago (and by fuel I mean snow and by fire, I mean ‘big iceberg’) – they all said yes, deemed it a success and called it a day! What gets me more worked up is that people are flocking to buy these chimp-children like they were going out of fashion. The descriptions state that ‘these are in high demand, so order fast!’ Who? Who is buying this? Who looks through the ornamental dolls and think ‘that’s what I need staring coldly at me from across the room slyly grinning and plotting my demise.’

"I know all your secrets..."

“I know all your secrets…”

Actually no. Fundementally, who is making this? Oh, of course; ‘Renowned doll artist Wendy Dickison’ and ‘serial lunatic…’ sorry, ‘Master Sculptor – I keep getting them two terms mixed up – Simon Laurens’ who is famous for his Happy Meal Lord of the Rings Nativity scene and something that really should be in the horror category. The descriptions go on: “features handpainted nails, and wispy hand-applied auburn hair that is topped with a blue ball cap for the perfect fun-filled touch.” Fun-filled? Alton Towers is ‘fun-filled!’ A bouncy castle filled with Skittles and cherryade is ‘fun-filled.’ Heck, even spending a night in the abandoned hospital would be more fun than having these abominations as room guests. Someone is paid to make this and someone else throws money at him and at the end of it all the ‘creator’ (I use the term like Frankenstein was ‘creator’ rather than a ‘butcher’) gets a lot of money and the buyer gets something that resembles the missing link in Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Together, they have carefully and meticulously crafted your nightmares for the next fortnight. One Amazon review hits the nail on the head perfectly…

Kids grow up real quick when they share their bedroom with a doll that is hell bent on murdering them in their sleep and transporting their blood to the depths of hell to be cast in molds to build an army of murderous monkey-child-doll brothers and sisters.


Kids that do not deliver Mollie’s required nightly ritual sacrifice don’t usually make it. Parents need to take responsibility here and assure that plenty of kitten blood is always on hand (and puppy blood will do in a pinch, but don’t push it – this is your child’s life we’re talking about here).

Just don’t trust Bradford when they mention that the “gentle brown eyes with long lashes seem to beg you for a cuddle” as it may be the last thing your mortal soul would ever do…

Didn't want to sleep anyway...

Didn’t want to sleep anyway…

Speaking of glazed over eyes, limp limbs and ridiculous facial expression, the Royal Family has captured the pure essence of British culture by storm and The Bradford Exchange have hit the ground running. But we’re not talking about the Head of the Royal Family and the Crowned Monarch that is our dear Queen Elizabeth II. Far from it, we’re talking about Kate Middleton. Y’know, the common-as-potatoes-Princess-which-could-totally-be-you-one-day. 

"I knew the unsold Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini would come in handy someday"

“I knew the unsold Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini would come in handy someday”

The Bradford Exchange lets you own a delightful and not at all tacky representation of the Duchess of Cambridge, forever immortalised as a figurine (re: action figure). Never has anything been so dull and uninspiring in this retrospect since John Wayne became part of the Barbie Sunhouse and Cool Pool Collection. Well what if you want an even more unrelated member of the Royal Family to straddle your mantel piece to collect dust? Too bad; you’re fresh out of luck. Wait, what am I on about? No you’re not. Alas, Pippa Middleton can join the your obsession of peculiar stuff that you’d be ashamed to show off to relatives and friends.


I totally didn’t read satiny sheen as sanity sheen. As if sanity every crossed this path…

Some of them don’t even look like who they’re supposed to represent! For those of you who don’t know, this charming gent is Prince William.


And below is the Commemorative £145.95 figurine


The same applies with Kate…



…And even our beloved Queen herself!



Reading through Amazon reviews, It’s hard not to notice that these show up in the American market quite predominantly and understandably so. I don’t know why but America love a fairy-tale wedding with the beautiful princess bride; the charmingly foppish prince groom; all well and good.  But the bride’s sister? Who’s next, the guests? David Cameron? The Beckhams? Ben Fogle?  Someone’s review stated that they were saving up for the Pippa Middleton action figure for their collection and that it will take pride and place in the ornate cabinet made with actual British glass. That one person, you can keep it. Keep them all.

Finally, back down to Earth now, although I understand if you don’t want to return at this stage, I move onto Christmas. I wanted to find something that stood out from the rest of the decorations. Christmas is all about the celebrations, the lights, the music and the magic and so everything seemed to just fit. You only have decorations up for six to seven weeks, despite some thinking Christmas begins as soon as the last firework is set off, and then they all go back into the dark, cold attic never to be seen again until ten months later. Even the mind-bending substance induced Father Christmas playing a Christmas tree shaped grand piano that has a tiny village in the middle which also plays music and lights up didn’t phase me (much). But I found this; the cherry on the top; the crème de la crème; the quite possibly most creepiest of the bizarre.

Nothing to see here officer...

Nothing to see here officer…

A jolly snowman, fit for the winter celebrations. It wasn’t until I read into the description things then swiftly went downhill. It takes some skill and depravity to think ‘my home needs this.’  It reads “open his coat and an entire, glowing holiday village scene is revealed, complete with a hovering Santa’s sleigh…

So that's what they're calling it these days

So that’s what they’re calling it these days

Yep, for £99.96 you can own a decorative snowman that slowly opens his coat to reveal his ‘sculpted village.’ Because nothing say Merry Christmas more than being flashed by snowman. No, Bradford Exchange. No one wants this. Not as a gift. Not as a peace offering. Not as an ornament. Not even as a doorstop. Flasher the Snowman and his “glowing village scene” is not permitted in this reality or even the next regardless if it plays 8 festive carols or is skillfully handcrafted by trained artisans. It is not allowed. Thank you Bradford Exchange, I’m done. That’s it.

Expensive, tacky, downright ugly and uninspiring gifts; I have never more desperately wanted to come down to Earth more than this after browsing the internet shops (not even after my preliminary article in 2011) but then I realised. Earth is responsible for the creation, selling and purchase of every one of these products so instead, this year, I have decided to spend Christmas on the moon. I’ll send you a post card.


Jimmi – From the Moon


World Wide Wednesday: Procrastination Aids!

During the obligatory procrastination from attending to my dissertation, I took a stroll down the side roads of the internet. Here, out of the sphere of Facebook, Google and YouTube, live some weird and wonderful ways of wasting your time. Today I bring to you a selection of five things you can do whilst pretending to be doing something productive.


1. The Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator

This simple little site has only one purpose: to generate you a name as sophisticated, snooty and weird as Benedict Cumberbatch’s own. So far my favourite has been Buttercup Cumberbund…

Benedict Cumberbatch name generator


2. Seaquence

A charming little programme which allows you to make music by creating little plankton-esque creatures and adapting them to change the sounds they make. Hours of fun to be had altering and composing the ultimate concerto!



3. Rainy Mood

Not so much something to do but this site essentially just adds the sound of falling rain into your life. I found this to be oddly relaxing…

Rainy Mood


4. Epic Rail

This rail simulation game requires you to manipulate the signal points on a rail to ensure the trains deliver the correct passengers to the correct stations without the trains colliding. Addictive and can get quite challenging later on.

Epic Rail


5. Ambigram Maker

Ambigrams are images that have a different meaning or look depending on how they are orientated. Here this site allows you to create many word based ambigrams!



Enjoy your procrastination!




World Wide Wednesdays – Hackertyper


You have all seen it before. The scrolling, quickly typed lines of code that appear in all manor of Hollywood blockbusters, where the hero or villain uses a computer to gain access to a fully secure network and foils the other’s plan. Want to be that hero without having to use MS Command Prompt? Or be the villain without having to learn all the programming? Well now you can be (sort of)! With Hacker Typer!


It’s the quintessential way to make it look like you are running your own hack, right inside your browser! ‘Hacker Typer’ is a simple code generator that works by selecting a few preferences on the home screen and clicking ‘HACK.’ On this home screen you can choose how you want the screen to react, so set up what colour you want the screen to be and the text (default is green text on a black screen); change the title of the page to whatever you want to hack; the length of the amount of characters to appear on screen and away you go! It’s just that easy. I know what you’re thinking, this is a bit of a novelty, and admittedly it is, but once you have found the perfect setting, you’ll be reveling in you’re own genius. Here’s what to do:

First grab a memory stick or old USB attachment and find yourself a computer in any public place, be a library or even take your own laptop with a wifi connection to a coffee shop, etc where you are in eyeshot of a lot of people. Load up Hacker Typer and set up your parameters and type as quickly as you can, looking dead serious. Then hit ‘Caps Lock’ three times and look disheartened by the result. It should bring up ‘Access Denied.’ Press ‘ESC’ and carry on typing. Do this a few times and when you’re ready, hit ‘ALT’ three times and…


…Success! Look pleased with your result by quietly cheering to yourself, making sure someone sees you. Turn the PC off and slink slowly away

Gimmicky, I know, but it’s a cool little tool to keep you busy in a crowded area that’ll surely raise concerns amongst a fair amount of people or to use as prop in a budget film or play that looks fairly decent. Its clean layout doesn’t look too intimidating. There are a few options in your initial menu but if you just want it for a simple fun, then there’s not a lot you need to worry about. Try it out and see for yourself!


Follow Hacker Typer on Twitter: @HackerTyper