Because of my fondness for the Lala-Oopsie horses and minis, I have gotten into the habit of stopping by the Lalaloopsy aisle in Target and Walmart every now and then, just to see who is there and if perhaps there is a tempting sale. The other day at Walmart, I found an unexpected little cutie: a Lala-Oopsie Sea Horse. There was only one left, an orange unicorn named "Sunstar," but she probably would have been my first choice anyway. I love the color orange.
I figured that before I leave the Virgin Islands, I should give you a peek at Sunstar in her natural habitat:
|Lala-Oopsie Sea Horse, "Sunstar."|
First of all, to get it out of the way, I have a few complaints about the naming of these little ocean-dwellers. "Seahorses" should be spelled with all one word. I suppose that "Sea Horse" is the brand name of these particular toys, but I just wanted to get it out there that real seahorses are all one word. Also, this isn't a seahorse! It's a sea unicorn (that might be two words). Seaunicorn? Sunicorn? In any case, she is much, much more than just a plain seahorse. She has a little horn and even a pair of wings, although my husband insists that the wings are her pectoral fins. Humph. I think she's a flying seaunicorn.
Sunstar comes in a colorful open-faced cardboard box:
A soft coral species:
Or try to spot the tiny yellow and black fish in this picture:
She is accompanied by a little starfish friend and a starfish-shaped brush. She is a Walmart exclusive and cost me $6.99.
According to the box, there are four Sea Horses to choose from: Sunstar, Sea Squirt, Brittlestar and Dottyback. The pictures on the box are misleading because Sunstar looks striped in the picture, but she's solid orange in real life with only a molded stripe pattern.
The names of these characters are the names of real sea creatures--but not types of seahorse. A sunstar is a type of starfish. A brittle star (two words) is an echinoderm that is closely related to the starfish. A sea squirt, also known as a tunicate, is a spongy-looking marine animal that appears to be nothing like a seahorse....but is actually in the same phylum. A dottyback is a bony fish--a real fish. Have I mentioned that I am a biology teacher? Yeah. So anyway, seahorses are bony fish, and are in the same group of animals as goldfish, salmon, tuna and most other fish you've ever heard about.
It's a little strange that two of these characters are named after starfish (not real fish), and one is named after a tunicate (spongy blob), but I guess the names all sounded good together or something like that. Moving on.
On the back of the box, there's a little rhyme about the whimsical land of Lala-Oopsies:
|Every other word is capitalized. Facepalm.|
I was able to de-box Sunstar at the beach with no scissors. That's a huge plus, especially when you're on vacation. Here are a few quick pictures of her on dry land:
She is about 3.5 to 4 inches long (I don't have a ruler with me...) and made out of hollow orange plastic. She floats in water...until she fills with water, and then she sinks. Her wings are made out of bendable turquoise vinyl and have a molded stitching pattern and a button-shaped attachment point:
Her cute little horn is made out of bendable hot pink vinyl. She has painted black button eyes:
She has a little pink heart painted on her left side, made to look like a sewn-on patch.
She has tiny molded stitches all along her midline. You can also see the molded (but not painted) stripe pattern in her body in this picture:
She has an endearingly broad, rounded face with differently colored ears. Her ears are the only features that seem to put her in the mismatched Lala-Oopsie family.
She has twelve strands of rubbery light purple hair that curl down her back:
Here's Sunstar's little starfish friend in the water:
I pulled her out of the water so that you can get a closer look:
She is made out of solid pink plastic (she sinks in the water). Her black button eyes and pink cheeks are smudged from being exposed to sunblock. She came with perfect paint and probably would have been fine in the water...just not in sunblock and water.
She has cute curled arms and a molded heart patch on her back:
She also has molded stitches all around her midsection:
Here's the funny little brush that came with this set:
Sunstar's mane can't really be brushed (and doesn't really need to be brushed), so this is an odd accessory. I wish they'd left it out and maybe included another cute sea creature friend...or just charged a little less for the set.
Before I turn Sunstar loose in the ocean, I want to update you on the only doll I've found on this island: the Drunken Mermaid. She seems to move around every day, and (thankfully) isn't always slouched at the bar. One day, we found her happily sitting in the sun:
And the next day it looked like she had just finished lunch:
Although no matter where she's sitting, she still looks pretty disheveled:
|Oh, Drunken Mermaid.|
Now, Sunstar and I will take you on a little tour of a nearby cove.
She actually doesn't float straight up and down like that, but rather on her side like this:
After a while, she'll fill with water and sink, but in the meantime, if she nestles down into the rocks, she can pause to chat with the locals--like this blue-headed wrasse and his unidentified friends:
This reef has some wonderful coral varieties. Coral are animals that are in the same group as sea anemone and jellyfish. Here's a big brain coral:
A soft coral species:
And a beautiful fan coral:
Here's an interesting species...oh, wait! It's Sunstar's little starfish friend:
She doesn't come with a name, so I call her Denise, after a type of pygmy seahorse. I figured that since Sunstar is named after a starfish, the starfish should be named after a seahorse.
Denise likes lounging around on comfortable animals like this vase sponge:
Or on this aptly-named cushion sea star:
|Denise and her cushion sea star cousin.|
In this picture, see if you can spot the boxy, big-lipped, camouflaged trunkfish that Sunstar befriended:
This particular fish was my personal favorite. It's a tiny baby sergeant major fish no bigger than my pinkie finger:
It's a little-known fact that Seaunicorns are nesters. They make little nests in the sand that are surprisingly similar in size and shape to bird's nests, but they are made out of soft algae. Here is Sunstar in her nest:
Bottom line? This Lala-Oopsie Sea Horse toy is fun and unique. I'm not aware of any other seahorse toys currently on the market...or at least not ones this cute. Not only is she a nice toy on land, but she makes a wonderful water companion. She is easy to carry around and seems durable. She tolerated several days of salt water, sun, sunblock and a chlorinated pool with no problems whatsoever. I do recommend keeping this toy away from sunblock, though, based on what happened to Denise the starfish.
It was neat to have Sunstar along on our snorkeling adventures, and even my husband (who I owe credit for many of these underwater pictures) admits that she was kind-of fun to pose. The fish were very curious about her, and so she often attracted a small crowd and added to our underwater experience. If my kids were younger, or reluctant to go in the water, this toy would have been a perfect way to engage their interest. If you have young children and are planning a beach trip this summer, I highly recommend bringing along a Lala-Oopsie Sea Horse to share in the fun.
I think that the price of these seahorses is reasonable. Most mini dolls cost between $5 and $10, so this toy falls comfortably in the middle of that range. You probably can't trust me on this, though. I find that when a toy shares special experiences with me or with my kids, it takes on a whole new level of sentimental value. After our wonderful week here on St. John, this little patched-up orange seahorse has become priceless.