Mad props to whoever at the elf ear earbuds factory figured out exactly which western gadget blogger to send them to.
First spotted on the Chinese-language Taobao shopping portal last year, the Spirit E666 earbuds are now easily found in the US, sold under various names but most conveniently at Amazon for $20. The ones I received were labeled "ROAMING IN WONDERLAND WITH EARS."
They're made of silicone, come with three sets of in-ear cushions, a four-foot cable in the same color, and have a microphone with playback controls and a modern 3.5mm TRRS connector.
The first surprise is that they're easy to put on, and they stay on. Anyone who's ever fooled around with cosplay prosthetics (with the latex and spirit gum and whatnot) knows what a hassle it can be. You won't be playing rugby in these, but I found them comfortable and well-designed. And they pop right off too.
The second surprise is they don't sound awful. They aren't the market-stall tat you might expect in a weird fashion design like this, but are on a par with what's bundled with cellphones and iPods or found on the bargain rack at Best Buy. They sound rather sharp and lacking in mid-range definition, for sure, but have enough bass to satisfy.
They're too small for proper elfage. Dainty little anime tips, really. They just disappear inside fluffy or shaggy hair. They're also one-size fits all, so if your ears are particularly small or large, the ear ridge might not align well with your own.
They only come in one color, and it's white AF. I am a red-haired Briton, alien to sunlight, who emerges only in darkness and they are way whiter than me. They should offer them in other skintones, pronto.
Durability is suspect, with the cable between earbud and the ear seeming particularly thin and vulnerable.
All in all, though, they're half-decent earbuds at a stocking-stuffer price. If you're here you already want them, obviously, and I'm giving you permission to get them.