By Wilson Rothman

Explainer: The 7 most ridiculous pool gadgets in SkyMall

  • Every day, about 30,000 commercial flights take to the skies over the U.S., and in pretty much every seat-back pocket, in front of every passenger, is a copy of SkyMall. It's our shared commonality, the jetliner equivalent of the Gideon Bible, but with more golden calves.

    Gadget lovers and gadget haters alike can ogle the goods, and turn up their noses at the manufacturers' suggested retail prices, but none can look away. Some even buy the stuff, and report back expressing joy or rage in colorful customer reviews. And so, in the spirit of summer, I present the seven most ridiculous pool gadgets to be found in SkyMall's pages.

  • Underwater pogo stick


    I'm no physicist but I have spent enough time in a pool to wager that the reasons people like pogo sticks on dry land would certainly not apply underwater. Sure enough, an enraged customer who submitted a one-star review of this thing corroborates: "There is NO bounce to this pogo stick in the water. It will also not bounce off the walls as advertised. I had 4 boys trying their hardest to accomplish this feat and all failed." Oh well, good thing pretty much nobody dreams of pogoing in the pool. $59.95 - SkyMall page

  • Mermaid swim fins


    As a parent, I am not sure that the best way for my kid to "build confidence in the water" is to tie her feet together. That's not to say a kid — aged 12 or under — with a certain degree of experience might not get something out of this $30 novelty. And hey, if your son or daughter isn't into the mermaid schtick, there's also a shark-fin model. But for now I'm going to enforce the one-foot-per-fin rule with my daughter. At least until she's a certified scuba diver. $29.99 - SkyMall page

  • Underwater light show fountain


    The pitch is righteous: "The Underwater Light Show is like a floating disco ball that provides colorful effects both above and below the water." Add to that a battery-powered fountain that shoots water out in five different "shows," and I start to feel like customer reviewer named fireball4444, who declared: "this is a must for any pool. lets party." But lo, there were other reviewers whose parties crashed because of this. One wrote, "Honestly it is not worth the money ... Seem to struggle to push water out. PLUS extremely noisy." Others chimed in about the poor fountain performance and short battery life. I guess unless they figure out a way to run an extension cord from the side of the house into the pool — safely — this thing is DOA. $49.99 - SkyMall page

  • Children's inflatable Jet Ski


    OK, this is a neat little watercraft. Aided by a rechargeable battery, it runs for an hour and reaches screaming speeds of up to 2 mph. What kid wouldn't want one? But this isn't about your kid. It's about you: Are you really ready to plunk down $200, only to instill in your child a premature desire for the real deal? Never mind that those things cost thousands of dollars, they also cause no end of worry to parents the globe over. (And while we're talking about this, doesn't SkyMall know that Jet Ski is a registered trademark of Kawasaki Motors, and that the vehicle is clearly marked "Sea Doo," a well-known competing brand?) $199.95 - SkyMall page

  • Floating table-tennis set


    Say it with me, "Ping-pong pool party!!!" There's really no downside to this, right? Wrooooonnnggggg. Take it from the customer reviewer who goes by the name claimjump: "I was trying to find something the kids could play in the pool, but this is certainly not it. The table floats all over the place with any movement on your part ... and after 5 or so times in the pool, the outer covering began peeling off, leaving the inner white styro to flake off. Not a good buy." And to think, all I was worried about was bashing my head into the side of the pool while diving for a wild lob. $79.99 - SkyMall page

  • World's thickest noodle


    Someone call the Guinness Book of World Records. These people claim to have the world's single thickest foam cylinder — at a whopping 7 inches in diameter — sold for the express purpose of floating in a pool. At least until someone makes an 8-inch one. I do have to hand it to the marketing people for their Dean Martinesque pitch: "This unique noodle makes others look like mere angel hair." Still, at a price of $50, if you buy the world's thickest noodle, you probably already have the world's thickest noodle — between your ears. $49.50 - SkyMall page

  • Floating massage chair


    Just because the floating massage chair made my short list of ridiculous gadgets doesn't mean I don't want it. I desperately want it. If I had a pool and a spare $300, I would probably already own it, because what's better than a floating massage chair? Not a rhetorical question — the answer is, a floating massage chair with water-resistant speakers and a waterproof pouch for my MP3 player! YES PLEASE. Oh, oh, and the name? The Aquassager. Just saying it makes me feel more relaxed. $299.99 - SkyMall page


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