2012 TOADY Awards

Vote for Worst Toy of the Year

Each year, the Toy Industry Association gathers to present its TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards.  In honor of the industry that has led the way in commercializing childhood, CCFC will present its TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for the worst toy of the year.  From thousands of toys that promote precocious sexuality to children and push branded and screen-based entertainment at the expense of children’s play, CCFC has selected five exceptional finalists.  Who will win the dreaded TOADY?  It’s up to you.

VOTING IS CLOSED. Click here to see which toy won the 2012 TOADY.

LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop
Price: $29
Recommended Age: 6-12
How do you turn one of the all-time great toys into a TOADY contender? Give it a makeover! Introducing LEGO Friends, just for girls and so jam-packed with condescending stereotypes it would even make Barbie blush. Bye-bye square, androgynous figures; hello, curves ‘n  eyelashes! And at the LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop, your little princess won’t need to worry her pretty little head about icky boy things like building. Instead, she can “get primped and pretty and have some serious salon fun,” “shop for makeup and hair accessories,” or “gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain.” Vote now >


TheO ball by Physical Apps
Price: Coming Soon
Recommended Age: Coming Soon
Since the dawn of time, children have longed for something fun to do with 3-dimensional round objects. But thanks to the geniuses at Physical Apps, the wait is over. Simply insert your $400 smartphone into the TheO ball, hand it off to your kids, and in no time, they’ll be playing games their technologically primitive ancestors couldn’t dream of—like “Hot Potato.” Kids will love a ball that tells them what to do. And parents will love that their little ones no longer have to choose between exercise and excessive screen time! Vote now >


The Put Me In The Story App by Jabberwocky Kids
Prices: App: Free; ebooks: $4.99
Recommended Age: 3+
You know what kids hate more than anything? Books! Why? Because no child cares what happens to Olivia, Max, or Sam-I-Am. But now, thanks to the Put Me In The Story App, you can instantly transform best selling children’s stories into e-books starring your own child. It’s the perfect way to insure that your little one never grows out of that cute, all-about-me stage. Right now choices are limited to Dream Big, Little Pig, The Night Night Book, and If I Could Keep You Little, but hopefully soon your little narcissist will be sailing off to Where the Wild Things Are, attending Hogwarts and tramping through Mordor. A special feature makes the books a cinch to share on Facebook so your “friends” can feign interest. Isn’t technology great?
Vote now >


Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey by Fisher Price
Price: $30
Recommended Age: 6 months+
A teddy bear just won’t cut it for today’s jaded, screen-addicted babies. That’s why the triple trademarked Fisher-Price™ Laugh & Learn™ Apptivity™ Monkey makes the perfect gift for your favorite droolers. It’s the first stuffy with an iPhone in its belly, so your little one can get everything she needs—Hugs! Video games! Milk!* —from the same creepy package! Since it’s marketed with bogus educational claims, mom and dad won’t have to feel guilty about that glazed look in baby’s eyes. And while the Apptivity Monkey won’t assure baby a slot at Harvard, it is guaranteed to give her a head start...on a lifetime of needing screens for comfort.  (* We made that one up.)
Vote now >


The 7-11 Slurpee Maker by Spin Master
Price: $35
Recommended Age: 6+
Playtime will be sweeter this holiday season with the 7-11 Slurpee Maker! There’s  nothing pretend about the sugar rush kids will get by combining soda and ice to make their very own Slurpee. But it’s the branding, not the empty calories, that really makes this toy so TOADY-riffic. The Slurpee Maker is emblazoned with the 7-11 logo and comes with a free Slurpee coupon, guaranteeing your kids will be nagging you for a trip to the convenience chain for a taste of the real thing. And with Slurpee’s 17 grams of sugar, your kid will down a full day’s worth in one shot – how convenient is that?! Vote now >




Apptivity Monkey

I'd always heard that looking a monkey in the eye is a bad idea, but poking at its belly is probably worse. Of this year's nominees, this one makes me feel the most sick to my stomach.


I want to vote against ALL of these, PLUS the breastfeeding baby doll. Ugh! What is the world coming to?

breastfeeding baby

while i find the breastfeeding baby doll a little, um, odd...at least it's a "realistic play" toy. like a little cooking or cleaning set - or even a baby doll that pees it's diaper after you give it a drink (i had one of those lol). it teaches kids that breastfeeding babies is normal. it's sad that they need a toy to teach them rather than from seeing their moms/aunts/etc breastfeeding, though.

learn to read

It clearly says that the breast feeding part is made up.....duh!

Breastfeeding doll

I don't understand why you are so against the breastfeeding doll. Breastfeeding is arguably more natural (and healthier) than bottle feeding, yet no one balks at baby dolls equipped with bottles. Kids will naturally mimic what they see their parents do, so if mom breastfeeds why not her little girl? She'll probably do it with her other dolls anyway. Unless your hangup is the price tag, in which case I'm with you.

Breastfeeding babydoll

i completely agree, there is nothing more natural than breastfeeding and the fact that some still see it as sexual in nature or wrong to do in public is incredibly sad. I breastfed my first child for almost two years, when she self weaned, and today I often see her playing with her dolls and at times she will be "nursing them.". Do I ask her to stop, no I allow her to play as she feels comfortably doing so. If she asked me for the doll I would be happy to purchase it for her for a special occasion. Sexualized leggos or a toy with an IPhone in it's belly, not so much! Think about it...

Breastfeeding baby doll

It saddens me that even mothers still see breastfeeding as sexual. The doll is very sweet. The halter is very whimsicle, with flowers, not big breasts or nipples even. I was so happy that my son's first exposure to breasts would be of me nursing his sister. After seeing numerous dolls with bottles, it is refreshing that there is a doll that reflects my children's experience.


The article clearly states that the milk from the doll is just a joke. Now the question is really "what is the world coming to" Learn to read before you jump to conclusions people! lol

Butterfly Beauty Shop

I've always appreciated what you do. When it comes to clothing and toys for children, you could say that I'm pretty staunch and picky. I've seen many "square" LEGO figures with eyelashes and red lips so you can tell the females from the males. I examined the LEGO item you have listed at the top. Most women I know these days go to spas and massage parlors on a regular basis (your typical "beauty shop") to get everything from facials and pedicures to entire body waxes done. That's what this little toy looks like. And they wear more clothes than those scary monster barbie dolls, and most Barbies in general that are dressed like prostitutes. I could think of so many other toys that are actually "disgusting" than this little set that has cosmetics and females that aren't wearing mid-driff, slutty shirts.

This is not legos

Passing off a beauty shop dollhouse as "legos" is a cynical exploitation of parents. There are very few blocks actually included, most of the set is prefab pieces such as lipstick stand. How can you take this set and creatively rearrange, rebuild, explore? What, you can join two rooms together? There is no ability or encouragement to build, hence none of the traditional "lego benefits" apply. Lego making claims of such is misleading and reprehensible marketing.

Of all of the adventurous, exciting, mind-expanding sets they could have built - jungle explorer, fairy tale castle, pirate queen - that would allow recombination and creative play, they make a Barbie knock off and stick in a few lego blocks. I think it's pretty disgusting.

Lynne, what are you talking about?

This is absolutely a LEGO set. It has the same build quality of any other LEGO set. The only sets that have more than one option as far as ways to change them around are the CREATOR sets (those have three different things that can be built from one set). Otherwise, all LEGO builds are just like this. There aren't just a few bricks in with a bunch of prefab pieces. I have zero clue what you are talking about. Aside from the lipsticks, everything is made from traditional LEGO pieces.

Not any women I know

I've never been to a spa or massage parlor in my life, and none of my girlfriends have, either. Nor have we ever had facials, pedicures, or body waxes. We are normal women - wives, mothers, homemakers and businesswomen. Yes, those things are common for some women nowadays, but so is hating your body and obsessing over looking "young" and "pretty". There is so much more to a person than looks, and there is so much more to life than shopping. It really, really bothers me (and oh so many others) that shallow "pampering" and frivolous spending on vanity is considered "normal" female behavior.

Every woman I know

Wow, I think you might have gone a little overboard with the stereotype.
I am 29, stay at home mom. I love getting pedicures, manicures, facials and massages. Do I get something every week or even every month? No. Do I spend my life shopping? nope. Unless we are talking about the grocery store, I go shopping vary rarely. Am I shallow? I don't think so. I like to think of myself as a good woman who works hard to make a comfortable home for my family. I keep a clean house and teach my kids manners, we eat dinner together at the table every night. Shallow pampering? I want to keep my person like I keep my house, tidy and neat. I want my feet taken care of, my skin taken care of, and my knotted muscles soothed so that I can be the best mom and wife I am able to be. I want my family to look at me and think "mom's got it together" not "mom really needs a break".
I agree, there are way worse toys that could be put on this list...is this a great toy? Not really....mainly because I don't now how your supposed to play salon when the hair is plastic.....I loved playing beauty salon when I was little, used to put hair bows all in my dad's hair :)

agree, agree, have you seen

agree, agree, have you seen the spa kits for little girls? they are out there.

How is this worse than anything else marketed to girls?

I get that this is a poor excuse for a building toy, but as far as giving the characters gender and being pink and purple and stereotypically girly, this is in line with or better than maybe 80-90% of the rest of toys specifically marketed to girls. Other less expected toys in the series include a seaplane and a speedboat. If I were six I think I'd be all over that seaplane.

Butterfly Beauty Shop

These legos are not a problem. Why can't a child chose to build a beauty shop or why should a girl have an options of colors she likes? There are so many different lego sets targeting so many other interests, superheroes, Star Wars, Ninjas, Cities, Fire/Police, why not something for someone who likes something purple? I think if a child wants to build whatever they want they can. Telling girls they shouldn't have a choice or a say in the matter is limiting them in the way you are suggesting. I believe the picture on the box is a guide, like all the other sets available, kids can make whatever they are inspired to make. There are so many other worse toys.


i loved my "boy color" legos when i was a little girl. i wish they'd stuck with the normal shaped lego people for these kits tho. :(

Friends minifigs

Then you probably haven't seen them yet. They're very cute. The original blocky ones are undeniably ugly and charmless.

On a broader note, it's pretty ridiculous (not to mention demeaning) to think that girls are so "weak-minded" that their choice of profession will be influenced by a Lego set. What is much more likely is that by being drawn into the world of building (which has certainly been the case for my 5 year-old daughter) young women may be more inclined to pursue a career in engineering, science or math. I fail to see how that qualifies Lego Friends as a worst toy of the year.

Drawn into the world of building?

This set was designed to avoid the ability or need for construction and experimentation because girls "didn't like building".

This is the Sunny D of Legos. Sure, it might get kids to like orange juice, but it sure isn't anything like actual fruit juice.


I respectfully disagree. Not sure what your quotation marks are quoting. The Lego Friends kits are quite challenging to put together, even if they're not "marketed" that way. They've got a base, walls, corners, windows, roofs, dividers, vehicles, you name it.


"On a broader note, it's pretty ridiculous (not to mention demeaning) to think that girls are so "weak-minded" that their choice of profession will be influenced by a Lego set."

So you wouldn't have a problem with boys playing with the breastfeeding doll, then, or with dolls in general, or even with this "Lego" set, right?


When I found out I was pregnant with a boy the first toy I bought for him was his own baby doll. I think every child should have a baby doll. And if my son wants to play salon, well Paul Michelle probably played salon too.


Ugly? Charmless?? You are perfectly entitled to your opinion, but frankly I am astounded that anyone could fail to see the charm in a lego person. Nothing speaks to my inner child like a lego figure. And one of the complaints here is that the new figures are markedly feminine-- the old figures could be male or female. It was easy to swap hairpieces and remake them into someone else. You could use your imagination.

In any case, I think the outrage is more that this product is being perceived as perpetuating stereotypes. The implication is not that -girls- are weak-minded and will be influenced by the product, but that -children- are. No, you absolutely don't have to buy it for your little girl, and yes, you could even buy it for your little boy. But it comes down to more than what the child is interested in, because children are still developing their interests and those depend largely on what you put in front of them. Stereotypes do exist, and there will be parents who will buy these for girls who will learn to like their girly toys even more, thereby perpetuating stereotypes. Is that wrong? That's for you to decide. I don't really think so; whatever we get our children will affect the development of their interests in some way. Girly toys aren't a worse choice than anything else. Some people-- including the CCFC-- disagree. I'd like to see less (gender-)polarized advertising. But I don't think this toy is terrible for that. It's untraditional lego, though, and I do find it distasteful.

Also, "being drawn into the world of building." That's a good point. But this product looks to be a lot less building-oriented and more focused on the things girls are 'traditionally' interested in. I think a blank-slate bucket of plain lego blocks and some generous encouragement of the imagination would be more effective at drawing a child into the world of building than this thing. There are enough bricks out there in the world to build anything-- there's no need to go by the instruction booklet. If anything, this line could be seen as painting girls as "weak-minded" by watering down the constructive-- and creative-- processes. That's could be a bit of a stretch though.

I think I understand the CCFC's point but like you, I don't think this is the worst toy of the year. I don't think it's wrong to buy this for your little girl (or boy!) if you think they'll like it. I still don't like the new figures, but that's a matter of taste.

Lego Friends

I have two daughters that love playing with these. They don't want to play with ninja legos or any other action themed set. You might as well put things like Strawberry Shortcake or Carebears on this list for being stereotypical or gender oriented. If my daughters would rather build a Butterfly shop and play with "curvy" girl legos instead of superheroes I intend to let them.

Why do none of the

Why do none of the superheroes, ninjas, cities, fire/police sets have girls in them?

I agree, these options should be open to them, but saying that girls don't want to build so we'll give them a prefab dollhouse and call it legos, is horrid. Girls should have a choice, but all Legos is giving them is lipstick and hairstyles,

There are girls that come

There are girls that come with some of the City sets and one that comes with a Ninjago set. There are also girls that come wi Star a
Wars sets. I'm not crazy about the Friends beauty set either, but I wanted to point out this out. My daughter enjoys playing with my sons Legos as much as he does. She probably likes the "boy" Legos better than the Friends sets she has.

LEGO Friends

You are wrong Lynne! You should look a little closer next time you make a comment. There are many girl figures in the LEGO sets. All the products you mentioned have girls in them. Superheroes, Ninjago AND City. There is even a girl astronaut in one of the sets! The LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop is only ONE of many LEGO Friends products. I think LEGO have done a great job making sure they don't stereo type girls. Here are some of the other products: 3933 Olivia’s Invention Workshop, 3063 Heartlake Flying Club, 3184 Adventure Camper and 3937 Olivia's Speedboat. So what if the bricks are pink! A lot of girls like pink so why not make bricks that are pink! It's about time girls get some fun LEGO sets to build. I have heard that these LEGO Friends sets are selling like crazy so I guess the customers have already made there own opinion about these products.

lego barbie

Yea. Ok. So go ahead and gather up the lego sets geared to boys and then geared to girls and tell me what you find.

Ha ha

Pretty clever article. However, we do have a toy snow-cone maker and it gets a lot of use on hot summer days AND provides some exercise as well! My son and his friends love using it but have to really exert some energy cranking that thing for a small amount of crushed ice. The flavoring isn't a whole lot to give that much sugar either, probably less than a cup of lemonade.

Re: Lego Friends

"your little princess won’t need to worry her pretty little head about icky boy things like building" Except, you know, when they build the set.

But that's not what Lego is promoting

Nathan P.

Your point is well-taken that girls will have to put the kit together. But it's interesting -- and troubling -- that Lego isn't mentioning that at all in the marketing.  The language we use above comes directly from Lego .  There's not a word in there about creativity or building but they actually do say you can use the set to "gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain." That speaks volumes about what Lego thinks about girls. Josh, CCFC


There are toys more deserving of a TOADY than this Lego set

Although I agree that it is tough to defend Lego's shameful description of the set, I would be much more disturbed if that language was actually on the box. I think that Lego's track record of providing so many constructive, imaginative toy sets warrants a pass for a TOADY nomination. I do believe the bigger issue is their increased branding / joint-markeing of sets, but that can be voted against by simply not buying them. In my opinion Lego represents so much more than this somewhat rare misstep. Half of Mattel's entire toyline is probably more deserving than this nomination.

At the risk of being too long-winded, I would also like to add that my daughter actually was introduced to Legos through the "Friends" theme, but realized very quickly that the "boy" Legos were just as, if not more fun. She also realized that many of the "branded" sets (including the "Friends" theme) offer small, unique parts not conducive to rebuilding. She now requests the creator/ basic brick sets to expand the playability of those sets. Lego has come up with a way to introduce girls to a traditionally boy-centered toy and it is a win-win for my family. Instead of asking for a half-naked Barbie/Brats/Monster High doll for Christmas, my daughter has asked me for Lego Creator sets that allow HER to choose if her "Friends" minifigures are at the salon, in a castle, or on the moon....

Much ado about a beauty salon

Well said, Eugene. My 4-year-old daughter and I (progressive woman who wears makeup maaaaybe twice a year) love the Lego Friends line in addition to the "regular" Legos. Do the critics of the Lego beauty salon know that most beauty shops on the PLANET are small businesses run by women? Salon workers do not exist to perpetuate stereotypes; that's what TV and magazines are for. ;-) P.S. The people who say that the Friends' structures are not challenging have never put them together.

Lego isn't "promoting" anything but versatile creatvity.

There isn't a word in the descriptions of ANY of Lego's sets about creativity or building at that level. It isn't until you get to the Creator sets or the Building Academy sets that they mention it. Lego is synonymous with creative building. That aspect of its playability is assumed just by virtue of the fact that it's Lego. Calm down.

Specifically designed to be simple, not require

You should look up what their goals were for designing this. Their #1 was that girls didn't like building blocks, so they'd make a legos with the need to construct or the ability to redesign. Without, you know, the reason parents buy legos for their kids. It's like creating a math book with only pictures to color in.

Creativity and building is not assumed. It has been specifically removed.


Gossip line

I think the marketing of the Lego Friends set is worse than the product itself. The "gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain." line makes me sick. We can enjoy dolls and playhouses and even girly salon stuff. There is nothing wrong with that. Josh is right, however, that what is bothersome here is Lego's attitude towards girls.

These just made me sad....

While each of these selections deserves a “TOADY,” out of sheer disgust I have to choose the “Laugh and Learn Apptivity Monkey.” Fisher-Price’s misleading marketing drivel claims that babies as young as 6 months can learn numbers and letters by watching images flash on a screen while an annoying voice accompanied by cutesy music repeats nonsensical phrases. (Of course, it does not explain why 6 month old babies need to “learn” such things in the first place…) We are assured that “babies enjoy their very own apps while protecting mom or dad's iPhone or iTouch” and, perhaps most pathetically, its “durable case is located on the Monkey's stomach and protects your device from baby's dribbles and drool.” How sad.


For the first time, I'm an undecided TOADY voter---each of these toys deserves to win. Perhaps next year the TOADYs can expand and offer multiple categories. I'm guessing there'll be more than enough qualified candidates. :-(

Finally Legos for girls

For years, my daughters have loved playing with lego's just like their brother. However, there was never a set designed for girls. Finally, lego started making sets for girls, and my 7 year old loves them. I take offense at the statement that "your little princess won’t need to worry her pretty little head about icky boy things like building." This article listed the beauty shop which my daughter already has, and at 6 years old built the entire 220+ piece set herself. For this Christmas she asked for the house which is a 700 piece set with multiple ways to configure the house. The building instructions for that kit are more advanced than some of the ones I've built for my son, and I guarantee she will build the entire thing. These sets are 10x better than some monster high/bratz/novi stars garbage.

Why not nominate violence-themed Legos?

I agree, the nomination of the "girl Legos" is misplaced. As far as gender stereotypes, have you seen some of the violent or macho Lego kits? I assume you have nominated those in years past! My daughter is not a mindless ninny, but she has not a whit of interest in most Lego kits, like Star Wars or tranformers. Why should you dictate her taste? Or criticize a marketer who caters to it with high-quality toys? She loves animals and role playing and I am thinking of getting a Lego Friends set for her for Christmas to go with the other lego sets she already has.




The legos are a poor nominee here - they still encourage building and creativity. Many of the girl-oriented lego sets are more advanced and require a good deal of spatial awareness and aptitude.

This is a toy girls want to play with, that doesn't make it a bad choice - Lego is responding to a trend, not causing it.

Reprehensible lot

As always I have trouble choosing which toy is the worst as each one is more reprehensible than the next. Ultimately, I am choosing Laugh and Learn Apptivity Monkey because of its potential damage to the development of really young children. I am disappointed with Lego for developing "girl" building sets. Granted there is assembly required and fine motor skills practice involved, but there is little left to the imagination, and I worry about encouraging obsessing about looks and "beauty" in young girls.

Close call...

I ended up choosing the monkey mostly because that one is for my son's age group. There are quite a few baby toys that incorporate the iPhone and it makes me wonder if putting a child that young in front of a screen like that is a good idea.

Tough decision...

They were all pretty disturbing. I have to agree with Anne though about the "Apptivity monkey" because it targets children whose brains are making connections that will last a lifetime. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO screen time before 2 years of age. But what do you expect? It IS fisher Price the same people who brought us the "Smart Cycle".(Laughable). Having 3 young girls, the Lego's were a close second. Despite my best efforts(no commercial toys, very limited screen time etc) my girls seem to absorb a sassy persona simply by attending school with kids who's families promote similar toys. Bratz are still one of the worst toy lines in existence it's sad how many toy companies are following their lead; turning out 6 year old's who think they are 16 and creating an impossible ideal for young girls to aspire to. It's a cryin' shame! Lego's are one of the best toys ever. So sad to see them take this unfortunate detour...

School is more to blame

I find that your statement above makes it clear that it is your girls attending school with those other children that have taught them undesirable behaviors, not the Lego Friends. We are a homeschooling family, and our exposure to other children is almost exclusively homeschooling families. We rarely see the kids pretend to be sassy, because they are generally unaware of that behavior. When they are exposed to it, generally from kids who attend school, my daughter will tell other children that if that is how they want to play, she will play something else. It is not an acceptable behavior in our children, therefore it is not acceptable TO THEM in their play.

My 9 year-old daughter LOVES her Lego Friends sets. She does not want the beauty shop. Her first was the girl that works with grooming animals. My dear daughter loves animals, and has really enjoyed discovering Lego Friends sets with similar tastes (rabbit hutch, horse w/ trailer). Prior to Lego Friends, our Lego Club was all boys. Even if girls wanted to join in, they liked to build in a different style than the boys. The boys showed no interest in the things the girls would built. Now, almost all of the girls who have a brother in the club are joining Lego Club. They take apart their Friends kits and build entirely new things!

And even though the building kits would appear to limit creativity, I feel like they encourage it by TEACHING the children how to use pieces to make the things that they want to make The youngest mimic and copy the kits, slowly adding their own variations until, eventually they are building things entirely new! Kits have helped my son to develop CONFIDENCE in his ability to create, where he was only disappointed that the things he built previously did not look the way he saw them in his mind.


You know, this is the second year I've voted for the toady awards and once again I'm disappointed that Lego has a nomination. I was a little more understanding last year about the Cars (movie) set, but the Friends Lego has brought a lot of girls into the world of building.

You showed the stereotypical set, but there is a also an inventor's workshop, a vet, and many outdoors sets. They all allow for ample building and creativity. I personally had a lot of fun building the inventor's workshop and will proudly display it in my lab!

Did anyone consider that men may want a set that is not stereotypically male as well? According to my local Lego shop, many men have come in to buy multiple sets of Friends Lego, because there is a color pallette that was previously unavailable. For them it has opened up new possibilities.

Lego Friends

My 6 year old daughter LOVES the LEGO Friends sets. My son and I both like LEGO and we all play together with the Friends sets.


I have an 8 year old that never played with Legos until Lego Friends came out and now we have almost the whole collection. The other sets in the lego friends collection are a vet, horse stable, cafe, house, boat, car, camper plus other things. If anything lego friends brings girls into the world of legos and can expand their horizons to other collections that are available if they enjoy legos. Maybe not all girls want to build gray, red, and blue ninjago fighters and want happy cheerful pink and purple legos.

Lego set is the worst

That Lego set does NOT offer a choice. Girls like building and making things without it having to be prettified - this is the opposite of choice, it's about the NaRROWING of choice for girls, LIMITING them yet again to the idea that looks are all they are important for. It gets my vote.


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