How tough - or easy - is it really to open up two popular items? I put a toy truck and a Web cam - each shipped from Amazon in both its regular and its frustration-free packaging - to the test. -

Lini S. Kadaba

Mattel's Matchbox Rocky the Robot Truck

Regular version

00:00 minutes: The yellow truck that talks and dances a jig was packed in its 14-by-15-by-8-inch colorful cardboard container with access to the "Try Me!" button. It arrived in a large, brown Amazon shipping box with 10 feet of crumpled brown paper as a cushion.

1:00: Only one piece of tape removed. Decide to use scissors to slice second tape. Open lid and find plastic carrying handle threaded through box flaps. Unthread with difficulty. Tug at truck. Won't budge.

2:35: Remember that a Mattel publicist said to open from bottom (although not printed on box), cut two tapes on bottom of box. Pull out toy.

Find truck firmly attached to a large cardboard backing .

3:22: Scrape knuckle while trying to push a cardboard tab through its slot to get at three plastic-coated wire ties, each twisted at least three times and taped over. Remove two of the three ties.

4:22: Last is a Gordian knot of twists. Try to unravel. Give up. Move on to cardboard tabs that hold truck to another piece of cardboard.

5:41: Back to tie. Try to use scissors to cut wire. No luck. Wish I had wire cutters.

6:19: Irritation mounts.

7:59: With fingernails in danger of breaking, use tip of scissors to pry apart wires - poking away from self - and untwist top, gouging box, but luckily not toy. Find ends of wire threaded under a crosswire and through plastic tab.

Finally get loose, only to see three more ties. Scream! Take a candy break to boost energy. Restart stopwatch.

12:25: Two ties, threaded through a plastic strip and a piece of cardboard, remain. Stub thumb.

15:53: Truck is free! Wait. What's that? One last tie holds a piece of cardboard to the undercarriage.

16:23: Done.

Frustration-free version

00:00 minutes: The 13-by-9-by-81/2-inch brown cardboard box (that also serves as the shipping container) says "open here" at one end, where a semicircle is cut out for a thumbhold.

Peel tape. Open box. Encounter cardboard, with two finger-holds cut out. Pull. Hard. Cardboard-wrapped object emerges. Unfold cardboard flaps.

1:00: Another piece of cardboard with tape encases bottom of truck. Peel tapes. Cardboard falls away. Batteries in cardboard enclosure with tape. Remove.

2:26: Done.

Logitech Portable Webcam C905

Regular version

00:00 minutes: Black cardboard box with an open front exposes small camera in plastic case. It ships in a medium cardboard box with 4 feet of bubble wrap to cushion.

Peel tape from box top. Pull out item and its plastic shell. Clamshell pulls apart. No cutting required. Happy.

1:00: Remove thin plastic protective covers from camera.

1:13: How to remove cables and camera mount stashed in box? See no other way but to tear bottom of box. Cables in plastic sleeve with tape. Remove.

2:28: Done.

Frustration-free version

00:00 minutes: Arrives in 8-by-61/2-by-31/2-inch cardboard box. Peel tapes off box lid. Open box. Camera inside carrying pouch. No plastic shell. Remove cables and mount from plastic sleeve with tape.

1:19: Done.