This summer, a new generation of FUNtainer emerged. We liked the new version's improved drink top, but had some reservations about the lid's new materials. The new straw bottle lid lacks the durability of the earlier straw bottle. After seeing the easy breakage of the new version, we no longer recommend this version of the FUNtainer straw bottle.
Spotting the New Bottles
The newer versions of the bottle (right, Hello Kitty) have an oval push button on the lid. They also lack the #5 plastic recycling symbol inside the lid's flip-top. The new lids are unmarked for recycling (and are presumably no longer polypropolene).
Another distinguishing feature is the under the lid upper straw assembly. Again, the pink Hello Kitty FUNtainer demonstrates the shape of the new version.
The upper straw is connected to a large flexible disk that fits under the lid. The plastic snap-top lid has an oval opening to accomodate the new straw straw assembly.
The old straw bottle versions, which I still love, have a 3 part straw assembly with one short straw above the lid and two below. The Foogo has a similar assembly as the new FUNtainer, but we haven't seen or heard about atypical breakage in the Foogos (which, to my limited knowlege, seem to still be produced in polypropylene, aka #5 plastic).
The redesigned lids and their corresponding straw cup bottoms are, in our limited experience and opinion, breaking easily and soon after purchase.
Kids' stuff breaks, and kids put their stuff through extraordinary use, so we don't worry about limited breakage. Breakage from ordinary use, however draws our attention, and when it seems to be happening frequently, I start to worry.
Frequency of Breakage
In June 2008, I photographed the Hello Kitty FUNtainer. I had purchased it at Target primarily to write a comparison review. After the review photos, I set it on the counter to be handwashed (I handwash all our Thermoses even though some FUNtainers are reportedly dishwasher safe). It was washed and air-dried. The next day, my mom, Ranger, and I headed to the zoo, so I filled up three FUNtainers with ice water. When I went to screw on the lid, I heard a click sound and the flip-top broke off in my hand. As I'm rather incompetant at opening jars and bottles, I don't think I have atypical hand strength.
I shrugged it off and called Thermos for a replacement. They sent one at their expense, so I wrote a review and gave it little thought. The replacement lid later broke at the hands of a visiting 18 month old. (2 broken lids).
A friend owned one of the new FUNtainers (hers is the Hello Kitty pictured to the right). Her under 2 year old daughter broke their first lid. A free replacement was issued. The bottle was dropped on their wooden (above a crawl-space) kitchen floor and the bottle bottom shattered and broke free. (1 broken lid + 1 broken bottle)
My friend Karen bought 8 of the new FUNtainers because she knew how much I use and like my older ones. Of her 8 FUNtainers, only two lids and two bottles remain functional) though not necessarily matched sets. Karen called Thermos when her first lid broke after 2 weeks of use. She told the representative that the bottle was dropped on carpeted floor, so she was charged $5 plus shipping and handling for a replacement lid. One of her bottles (which were designated as dishwasher-friendly), had the bottom pop off in the dishwasher filling her dishwasher with a strong epoxy-like smell. (7 broken lids + 6 broken bottles)
Local damage totals: 10 broken lids + 7 broken bottles (for 10 bottles purchased + 2 free replacement lids + 1 purchased replacement lid). Many bottles were broken during typical use.
Type of breakage
Other than my first lid's break when the upper part of the flip top broke off intact, all the other local lid breakages seem to include the loss of a hinge leg. When the hinge legs break loose, they are a small (approximately nickle-sized) piece of irregularly shaped plastic with one rough edge. I do not have photos of any seperated hinges (as a parent's automatic response is to throw them away), but the remaining hinge leg suggests how large the plastic fragment could be.
When the bottom comes of the bottle, it reveals some gnarled looking welds. The weld that goes in a circular ring around the bottom looks gnarled, but actually isn't a treachorous as it appears. Despite serious second thoughts on the action, I eventually ran my hand around the ring and found that particular bottle's weld free of metal burrs, splinters, and sharp edges.
The center weld, however, has rather sharp edges where the metal appears to have been crimped or cut. The corners concern me.
When the bottom comes off, there are also globs of adhesive (which is probably what caused the strong smell in Karen's dishwasher). These can sometimes be peeled free of the bottle, an endeavor 3 year old Ranger would gladly undertake if I would give him access.
Whatever the new resin may be, it doesn't react to drops like the old polypropylene materials. A friend gave me a blue Foogo with a cracked bottom (after over a year's use) to compare with the new FUNtainer's breakage from a drop.
The older, marked #5 plastic (blue Foogo), cracks, but does not seem to shatter or break into multiple pieces. The new plastic broke into multiple pieces and had additional radial cracks appear from the location of impact.
Communication with Thermos
I was unsettled by the lid's easy breakage back in July, so on July 18 I emailed a Thermos executive directly in addition to calling Customer Service. In addition to explaining the cup's easy breakage, I made these layman's observations:
The lid design seems improved, but we immediately had problems with it that I suspect have to do with materials rather than structure. I noticed it's no longer labeled as #5 plastic. The texture and density of the plastic seem quite different than the also hot pink Barbie straw cup Funtainer we own.I didn't hear anything back, but I was distracted with readying our lives for the Raptor baby, so I reissued my concerns (1/7/09). After assistance from a third party, on January 8th, I was emailed by the Thermos executive I previously emailed. He had heard nothing of this type of breakage in the new FUNtainer.
This break renders the cup too unreliable to be very useful... There's something about this redesign that seems to be making it a lot less durable than the earlier Funtainer lids.
I keep seeing notations in different online forums about people having lid breakage, and I couldn't understand it with the old version of the lids (those marked #5). Our other Funtainer and Foogo cups have taken over a year's worth of toddler abuse and we've had no plastic breakage to date. They're easy to love and recommend. There's a lot of promise in this new design but the easy breakage is problematic.
I sent him the details and photos of broken FUNtainers included in this review. He invited me to call him directly. I tried for almost a week, but never reached him or received a phone call.
Out of frustration, I emailed him again. He replied in a concerned manner and said that he had asked Thermos' research and development to investigate the matter. That email, dated January 14, was the last I heard from him. On February 1st, I asked him for an estimate on when he would expects more information, but (as of this posting) my email remains unanswered.
Update: 2/18/09- Thermos responds to Baby Toolkit.
What are your experiences with the FUNtainer?