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Ever since my boyfriend gave me gonorrhea on valentines day three years ago- (theres a line you don't see in reviews every day) I've been rather in love with GIANTmicrobes, and have built up something of a collection of them, with one of my favourites being this cute and cuddly sperm cell. This is actually my newest purchase in the collection, purchased (along with the egg which I shall review seperately) to help my daughter understand a little about reproduction.
GIANTmicrobes are described on their website as being 'stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes -- only a million times actual size! They're humourous, educational, and fun!' and it's a description I very much agree with, although I do have my doubts that the million times actual size comment is entirely accurate. They certainly are a lot bigger, considering that most of the many things they represent can only be seen via microscope. They actually come in various collections - there is the Venereals collection, in which you'll find the aforementioned gonorrhea, the Tropicals collection where, amongst others you'll find Malaria and West Nile disease - in fact there are a whole host of different collections. The Sperm (whom I have christened Sidney) belongs to the corporeal collection, that is, the collection of cells you'd expect to find in a perfectly healthy, disease free human body (a male one in this case, naturally).
I purchased Sidney in the middle size, the GIANTmicrobe. He is also available as a GIGANTICmicrobe, but I figured there was no need to be greedy, and as a GIANTmicrobes petri dish, where you actually get 3 spermatazoon. I suppose technically that would make it a dish of semen, rather than an individual cell.
My Sidney is quite a cute an lovable chap. He's around 6-7 inches long, head to tail, and is made of a lovely soft white plush fabric. Sidney is quite firm - he's certainly soft, but he feels well filled, not cheap, and his stitching is perfect, though I do with the stuffing had continued into the tail. He has beautiful big blue eyes, and although he has no lips there is definitely the suggestion of a smile. Last but not least, his look is polished off with a neat little blue bow atop his head, perfectly matching the shade of his eyes. Now, it has to be said that the bow, in my opinion, does make him look a bit girly, but then I look a bit tomboyish, and who am I to judge his life choices.
Now, clearly Sidney is not quite anatomically correct - he's more of an airbrushed model, primped and plumped to look good for you. However, he does come with a little picture of an actual spermatozoon, just so you can see what one actually does look like. He also comes with a neat little fact sheet with some fun information about sperm and semen, some of which I knew, and some of which I didn't , and a couple of the bits of information on there provoked shocked giggles when I told my daughter! I was glad the fact sheet included a couple of facts that made it clear that, far from being a million times actual size, Sidney is actually an even bigger boy (given the number of semen in the average healthy male ejaculate!)
I used both the Sidney and Ethel (the egg cell, or Ovum) to help me with explaining the process of fertilisation to my daughter, as she'd been asking for a more detailed answer to where babies come from for a while. I found having a cute, cuddly character that she could hold and that we could mime actions with when talking made the process more interactive than just pointing at diagrams in a book.
She found it particularly funny when Sidney and Ethel were fighting because Ethel wanted to be a period , though I'm not sure if that was because of the toys themselves or the fact that I've decided Sidney sounds like George Formby, and Ethel is an exaggerated Vicki Pollard. I have to say I got a little bit carried away with my enjoyment of them both, and I do think these have a very wide appeal - certainly my daughter likes them, but I rather like the collection to, and could also imagine them being used by teachers and health professionals.
Sidney and Ethel are both still quite new, so not showing any signs of wear and tear yet, but I know that my gonorrhea can be washed in the machine on a gentle handwash cycle and left to airdry once it gets a bit dusty, and that although the stuffing can get a little bit squished, it can be revived with a good plumping.
Overall, as a toy that is both educational and fun, I rather like Sidney! I do think perhaps he'd have been better without the bow (maybe he could have a bow tie instead) as my daughter did think he was a girl at first! Prices vary online, and I'd recommend shopping around. I actually purchased mine for £3.99 from an Ebay seller, but I've seen prices ranging from £3.99 up to around £8.99. Whilst I'd have been happy to pay up to £5.99 based on quality and educational value, anything over that is a bit expensive in my book.
Sidney gets four stars, one off for the ribbon, which just seems wrong for a sperm.