I once thought I knew how to properly use a hat — after that time in kindergarten I tried to wear one on my kneecap, I accepted the constructive criticism of my teacher and have never looked back.

Nintendo, however, is not one to accept the norm and has sent me a hat to blow one’s mind; a hat that pushes the envelope of headgear-as-we-know-it so extremely that it needs its own instruction manual!

OK, so it’s really just a normal-looking hat, but I’m not lying about the instructions.

Several months back, the Club Nintendo program set to reward faithful Nintendo purchasers with a choice of exclusive products. Being the dorky Nintendo-phernalia collector that I am, I went with the authentic-looking Mario cap. It’s one of the best-known icons of the gaming world; right up there with the Master Sword, Master Chief’s helmet and the dateless Saturday night.

The hat arrived just a week before Halloween, giving some the opportunity to complete costumes of their favorite plumber or, with all due respect, Zombie Captain Lou Albano (rest in peace, Captain). It’s honestly a more nicely-made product than I expected; sturdy, relatively symmetrical and with a stretchable band in the back to fit most heads, as my model will show:

Kirby

I told you I was dorky.

Yet as my mind already began to fill with the adventures of me and my Mario hat, I spotted a slip of paper at the bottom of the shipping box. I picked it up, expecting one of those “Enjoy your way cool new hat and don’t forget Mario’s next games!” pitches that PR interns use to blow their noses while crying themselves to sleep at night, but I was somewhat surprised to instead find an “instruction manual.”

MarioHatInst

Obviously, this is going a bit overboard. For one thing, of course this hat is not for practical use. It’s for use in saving the Mushroom Kingdom and/or galaxy! Everyone knows Mario wears an entirely different hat when performing actual mundane plumbing duties (and a pair of ill-fitting jeans that garner him a Teen rating whenever he’s squatting beneath a sink). There is also positively no need to warn people not to expose the hat to direct sunlight, as anyone who may actually attempt to employ the hat for practical uses has only heard of such a thing in fearfully whispered legends.

The color loss warning makes it sound as though the hat bleeds like a pair of hemophiliac hedgehogs in a pinball machine, but I have so far had no problems. For those wondering, it has not made Kirby look like a pink bullseye when viewed from above.

The rest of the instructions border just a bit on the creepy side: Do not handle the hat roughly. Do not keep the hat near a heat source. Do not leave the hat unattended if it becomes wet. If it weren’t for the mandatory MADE IN CHINA at the bottom, I almost fear we’d see “Do not feed the hat after midnight.” too.

Also, the plastic wrapping that was shipped with the hat may cause “accidents.” I have driven a stake through it and buried it upside-down in my backyard, just to be safe.

On a serious note, I appreciate how Nintendo chose to cater more toward the collector than issuing a cheaper, wearable novelty, and I can understand how they feel a sheet of guidelines would be necessary for those who might want to just toss it to little Billy or strap it to Mittens to make a “Meow-io” LOLcat. If everything goes well and not too many complaints and/or deaths are registered, we might see even better replicas next year.

Boswer: The Flamethrower? The kids would love that one.

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