Unbranded Smiling Fire Hydrant and Octopus Balancing Ball Sprinklers (Dollar Tree)

Smiling Fire Hydrant and Octopus with Ball Sprinklers standing side-by-side and posing for the camera
Look at these adorable little fellas!

Sometimes it’s kind of surprising to see just how far a dollar can (potentially) stretch these days - the latest example that kind of blew my mind were the fact they carry sprinklers. And who doesn’t want to kick back with some exciting sprinkler action during these hot summer months? Especially when you have a four-year-old boy...that virtually made it a prerequisite that I pick at least one of these guys up. Just to make sure I got a winner (or, at least, to heighten the odds), I decided to grab one of each of the two styles they had available at our local store.

The first thing you’ll notice - and this is probably to be expected from a dollar store sprinkler - is that they are made of a very cheap, thin plastic. I probably wouldn’t consider these for a large neighborhood gathering, as all it would take is one dumb kid to fall on it, or kick it, or drop it, to render it inoperable; it should be fine for small family affairs. (To be fair, I was actually the idiot that dropped the octopus on our hard stone patio before we even had a chance to use it, and it surprisingly didn’t crack...a second one would probably do it in for good.)

Using these are the same as virtually any sprinkler: twist the hose into the side of the sprinkler, place it on a level grass surface, turn on the water, and you’re good to go. There’s even a little adapter included, which I’m assuming are for people with non-standard hoses...can’t say I even knew there were different hose types. Both of them attached pretty easily (pro tip: spin the actual sprinkler around instead of the hose to get it locked in tight), and neither one of them leaked at all out of the hose attachment.

The Smiling Fire Hydrant sprinkler in action, complete with spinning top
He looks like he's having just as much fun as we are!

The octopus is the cuter of the two, at least in my humble opinion, with a blue body balancing a ball on the top of his head, which also doubles as the sprinkler mechanism. Once the hose spigot is turned on, the water sprays out in jets upward. It took me a couple uses to realize that the ball on top is supposed to spin, which it didn't do the first couple times we used it, but after messing around with it for a bit, we got it working. Honestly, I actually liked it a little better when it didn't spin, as it shot up higher than the other one, reaching heights of about four feet; when it's spinning, it doesn't seem to reach so high, instead shooting water out in unpredictable patterns. It's still fun, though.

Then we have the fire hydrant, which is smiling because he’s happy to spray children with water, or something. Anyway, despite his more bland looks, this one is arguably the cooler of the two overall in terms of performance, as the hydrant’s yellow top spins around once water starts spraying, giving it the constant “stop-start” shooting performance of other sprinklers, where little segments of water are sprayed around in a constant stream. This one was my son's favorite, and the spinning mechanism worked from the outset, unlike the octopus one, which we had to "fix" in order to get working.

Dollar Tree's Unbranded Octopus Balancing Ball sprinkler, from Dollar Tree, spraying water every which way
Even if he doesn't work, how could you stay angry at this little cutie?

Of course, they're far from perfect: they're cheap, and very light, so I wouldn't really expect these to last a long time, even with normal wear and tear. The lightness also means they're very susceptible to tipping over, either from the slightest nudge of the sprinkler itself, or from shifting the hose a couple inches, which can be pretty frustrating. Elsewhere, users on Dollar Tree's website (where these sprinklers hold an abysmal 1/5 star rating) also claimed that attaching the hose was next to impossible, and even if they did get it on, it just leaked everywhere (I had no such issues, with either one, although the octopus' ball not spinning at first does hint at some quality control issues). 

But if you're just looking to cool down on a hot summer day, or looking to entertain your kids for a little while, these should do the trick just fine. Assuming you can get them to work, of course.

Overall: 6/10. Although longevity will no doubt be an issue (assuming you were expecting a cheap dollar store trinket to last you for generations), these are some pretty decent sprinklers for the price...and by that I mean they actually work. You’re not going to get anything rugged, of course, but they should kill a few hours of summertime with the kiddos, with a performance similar to other sprinklers: We've used each one for about an hour, and aside from the octopus' ball not spinning (which we fixed with some tinkering) have had no problems. All for a buck each? That's not too shabby.

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