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 >

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Comments

Think before you type

First of all, the very nature of Lego is that it offers choice. It's a building toy. You don't HAVE to follow the instructions. Don't like the beauty shop? Build it into a car mechanics shop instead. Yes, technically it does not offer a choice of more masculine colors within the set. But if you don't like pink, don't buy that set! If I don't like Star Wars, I'm not going to buy a Star Wars Lego set. That's the choice!

The Lego Friends line is a positive step. All their previous sets included colors and themes traditionally thought of as "for boys". Suddenly they offer a new variety and shortsighted people like you attack them? It doesn't HAVE to be "prettified" for girls, but it CAN be "prettified". And anyone can play with it. Sounds to me like you're the one not offering a choice.

Really?

The Lego Friends line does not belong on this list. It was designed for kids, male or female, that like playing with pink toys that aren't necessarily full of ninjas and superheroes. That's all. It's pretty stupid to assume that a little girl wouldn't be able to express her distaste of this style of toy if she didn't like it. And you know what she could do next? Turn herself around and pick out a sweet Lego Star Wars or Lego City set. Sounds like the only thing Lego is guilty of is supplying something for everyone. This attitude that pink toys are for girls is not held by Lego, it's held by you and every other irresponsible "crusader" who has waged this shallow, and poorly planned war against a toy company that's doing nothing wrong. When you take your little girl to the store and she asks to go look in the aisles full of action figures and firetrucks, do you tell her no? "Sorry sweetie, we're slaves to the marketing standards of toy companies. The Toy Police are going to come and take me away if I buy you something with a gun on it, now put down that Nerf sword and lets go look at the Bratz dolls."

I think the issue I have with

I think the issue I have with the Lego Friends set is that I don't see any males in any of the promotions. I haven't had a chance to actually see the toy myself, so if I'm wrong on this please correct me, but it seems to me that there aren't any males anywhere. I'm not just concerned with the way that young girls are affected by this toy, but also young boys. If a boy wants to play with the pink and purple Lego beauty salon, are there any male minifigs that represent him? There are five stylish looking girls on the box, but that's it.

If it didn't seem like such a female-dominated toy in its promotions and the minifigs included, that'd be fine - as you said, it provides an alternative, because some people do like those kinds of things. But instead it seems like there's a lack of male representation in these traditionally "girly" types of toys, and a lack of female representation in the sets like Ninjago, etc.

Try Goldie Blox instead of these Legos

As the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, I cringed at the sight of these "girly" Legos when I started seeing them in stores, and this one must be the worst. Beauty salon? Really? There isn't even anything to build, and no need for your imagination, because everything is already done for the child with this type of "toy." But there may be something better on the way! Check it out: Goldie Blox, an engineering toy designed for girls by a female engineer. Yes, it's pink, but I think she will actually learn to build something. I've already pre-ordered.

Give me a break

Whoever nominated the Lego set is doing a real disservice to this site. Of all the absolute garbage out there, you come after this? Give me a break.

I grew up playing with Legos. Loved them. When I think back, my sister never really got into them. Probably because all of the sets I asked for extremely boy focussed. I have two little girls now. I bought them stars wars sets a couple years back, nothing. They love these new Friend sets though; and I love that they enjoying the creative building that goes with it.

You know what, I'm going to go out today and buy extra Friends Lego sets and give them away to every charity I can find.

Take a marketing class. Then...

Ask yourself what threatened all traditional toys in the 80s (Hint- Mario). What she fails to mention is that video games seriously challenged (and currently challenges) Lego's largest demographic, namely young, pre-teen to teen BOYS. Zack the Lego maniac was simply the company's response to aggressive marketing to young BOYS by Atari, Nintendo, Coleco, etc. No company that wants to stay in business denies marketing to their key demographic. Lego is far from perfect, but the gravitation of Legos to boys happened well before the 80s and is PROVED BY the focused ads, not because of them. Blame it on someone else; maybe Western culture, but not Lego.

But back to the real issue with Legos, and the main reason I subscribe to CCFC: I do agree with her assessment that Lego (like MANY other toys) has veered in the wrong direction with all the movie/media franchising (and thus more scripted play and less inspired creativity). But I suspect that it is also due to business /marketing pressures, based on careful study. I don't like the movie franchise Legos, so I don't buy them. And here's the point: if you don't like Lego's current key demographic, you can: 1) shut the TV off and go buy, build, and create a Lego set with your daughter that contains regular or NO minifigures or, 2) Go search for the pot of perfectly gender-neutral toys at the end of the rainbow. I'll still be building Legos (including some of the Friends sets) with my daughter when you come back.

Agree, but disagree

I don't buy products when I have issues with the toy itself or the practices of the manufacturer. I am certainly someone who votes consciously with my dollars. It's not wrong, however, and in fact it's the responsibility of a concerned citizenry, to ask/encourage/demand that these companies stop practices that negatively influence young children. I think that this toy does that, so beyond not purchasing it, I will speak up in forums such as this. I'd gladly purchase plain block sets from Lego, or find used sets to buy. This product, however, needs to go.

Hurry, hurry...faster, faster!

Cut out childhood and go straight for the goodies. Get those hormones racing with the breast feeding doll. Solidify "center of the universe" narcissism to last a lifetime. Discourage imagination, exploration and creativity. Cram your daughters into a 1950s corner. Snare those young 'uns in your corporate net. Keep materialism booming with more and more crap that nobody needs. Here comes "Logan's Run"!

Hold on...

I agree with everything in your statement EXCEPT the comment about the breastfeeding doll. Why would that get hormones racing? Breastfeeding is completely normal and natural and it sounds like your feelings toward that product are more telling of your own misconception. Please, PLEASE, people. STOP perpetuating breastfeeding as taboo. Thank GOD there is a toy out there that perpetuates the CORRECT perception of breastfeeding. I'd buy that for my child any day before a stinking Barbie/Monster High/Bratz doll.

Having that said, I absolutely agree that many many toys are marketed to prematurely age our children. Hey, the sooner they learn to love that "baby" tablet, the sooner they are pestering you for an iPad, cell phone, etc.

Why can't we have a coed set?

There's not a single boy in Lego Friends, not even a Ken. There are very few girls in the every other Lego set out there. Can't we all just get along?

Instead we're building two separate Universes. For boys, girls don't exist and have nothing to offer, and vice versa.

It's like they want to make sure you can't just buy one set for both your kids, oh wait, it's almost like they want to make sure you have to buy twice the number of Lego sets....clever, exploitative marketing....

ummm shouldnt the doggy doo game be on this list???

Basically, the monkey, ball and story app are all unnecessary to me. Read your kids a real book if your 9 month old is dying to know what letter comes after bababa. You remember those, dont you? Pages of real paper sandwiched between two covers. They worked for my generation... The Slurpee syrup cant possibly have any more carbs and calories than those little cakes baked under a light bulb that EVERYONE was making and eating. The Lego set has its faults, sure, like most other toys. If you dont like it... dont buy it. Id rather spend my time fighting the makers of the girls shoes with heels (gross) and midriff baring shirts for toddlers... my vote is for the doggy doo game. I know kids love potty humor but this game just goes too far, in my opinion. What's next? Guess whats in mommys hangover vomit???

Legos for girls

Thank you CCF for nominating the Legos for girls toy for the TOADY! The other toys on this list are so obviously stupid and offensive that the really pernicious nature of the Legos campaign to "get girls interested in building" by celebrating the silliest aspects of women's lives and perpetrating the most demeaning stereotypes and can be lost. Not to mention, Lego is riding on its years as a respected, solid toy for boys AND girls. Generations of us grew up playing with Legos and one of its most appealing qualities was its gender neutrality. We girls loved Legos and building because they're fun. I'd never buy LEGOS for my daughter or any other girl today because of their backwards move into inane and destructive gender-specific marketing.

BreastFeed Baby

The BReastFeed baby is innoapproaite for little kids. I would've been caught dead with a boy and a breastfeed babydoll...

Give the Toady to the world's worst toy!

Disappointed about lack of support for Lego TOADY nomination

I am a huge fan of CCFC and think they are doing an honorable thing by including the Lego beauty salon as a TOADY choice this year. There is overwhelming evidence out there about the horrible consequences that sexualization and sexist stereotypes has on young girls' self esteem and self image. For example, girls and boys have been shown to have equivalent levels of self esteem until around the 5th grade, at which point girls self esteem plummets. Internationalization of sexist gender stereotypes was noted as a major factor in this drop. These stereotypes include things like 'girls aren't good at building', 'girls are gossipy' and 'girls need to be pretty'. All of these stereotypes are supported by this Lego toy, and I applaud CCFC for pointing it out as such.

A lot of people are defending Lego, stating how their own daughters enjoy this set, and generally minimizing the claim that the Lego toy here is problematic. Many Lego toys certainly provide lots of worthwhile development for kids, but why can't we also criticize this toy in particular? Can't we celebrate girls gaining access to and enjoying activities such as building and problem solving while simultaneously critiquing marketing that reinforces harmful stereotypes, for girls as well as boys? Doesn't this critical focus help, not hurt, our sons and daughters?

Violent Ninja Lego Sets

If Lego "marketeers" keep marketing violent Lego sets, like Ninjago, then your "pretty little princesses won't have to worry about worrying their pretty little heads" because they won't have one. Why not add the violent Lego sets to your list? Also I would like to add that I think that Lego is trying to step outside the box and market Legos to girls because they have been marketed towards little boys for so long. Oh and by the way, not every little boy wants to be a ninja, maybe some want to be a fashion or hair designer! Not all parents want their little boys coerced into being violent ninjas.

The Ball

Of all the ridiculous ideas for a toy, my vote goes to the ball with a smartphone in it. Good grief. Who comes up with this stuff?

lego friends

someone here said "This set was designed to avoid the ability or need for construction and experimentation because girls "didn't like building". it was designed to be easy to build for a 6 year old kid. i brought two lego friends kits home. one farm and one one with pink blocks, rabbits, and a garden. my son chose to play with the farm, my daughter played with the pink blocks, and they shared the rabbits and the carrots. you cant complain that they dont make legos for girls, and then complain again when they do...

Hulk Hands

Or whatever the name of these thing are now. "Put on thes giant green hands, and smash everyone or everything in pain sight with blind rage, just like the Hulk." REALLY?!

lego friends

I asked my 6 year old daughter if she would like the "lego" friend. She said she would rather have the normal ones, they had boys and girls in the sets. The friends are way to girly, they are wasting there time making them.

lego friends are great

my 8 yr old daughter and her friends love lego friends. I have two boys ages 4 & 12 and they have never been interested in legos. My daughter has been building her lego friends sets for 4 months now and I am so impressed with how quickly she builds them and she plays with them for literally hours. I see nothing wrong with these playsets, and personally think they are super cute. They offer many different types, not just "beauty" sets including horse stables, a airplane set, a house, dog show, tree house, etc. Sure, they are pink and purple and have a lot of girl themes, but why not? I think it is great that my daughter is building and has interest in creating. It is giving her patience, dedication, how to follow instructions, great hand-eye- coordination and a huge sense of accomplishment when she is done. I will be buying more sets for her, and applaude lego for finally including girls in this mainly boy focused toy.

Worst toy

I fail to see how or why any of these toys are the worst. Legos with gender bias? So what. A monkey or ball you put your iPhone into? A slurpie machine that's nothing more than an shaved Ice maker? How about you all get off your high horses and take a step back. It's Christmas time, you should be worrying about your kids happiness, not how something will dumb them down, or isn't reflecting the state of a gender! I dont really see how lego friends will mess up a little girl, and that we all know slurpies should not be apart of your balanced breakfast. If you think that these are the worst, oh, there are even worst toys out there... No child has ever been messed up by a toy that they started to act a certain way. Parents, be adults here, I'm not saying burn the stores to the ground, but, just be good parents, nurture your kids into being something better than what they see in tv and in film. Be good role models. Buying them the slurpie machine isn't going to make little Laurence a sugar-junkie, or send him into a spiral of shame. Buying Lonnie that lego friends toy isn't going to make her a skanknor give her a complex... Buying your wee baby a ball or bear to put your phone in, it's nothing more than a kid friendly caddy. Quit looking for flaws and faults of logic in children's toys and go do something with your kids. Let them be kids!

lego.

what ever they did to lego was bad.. having just blocks is all it should have been.weather it directed at girls or boys, it should just be lego. i tried to get some for my kids but all i can find is build a ship lego, build a castle lego.. pre fab sucks what the hell happened to I"LL BUILD WHAT EVER I DAMN WELL PLEASE LEGO!! back to basics people. stop taking away the imagination. if a girl wants a nail salon she'll do it with plain old legos and a barbie.

good call on a lot of these toys

I especially love this sentence about the Me Book: "It’s the perfect way to insure that your little one never grows out of that cute, all-about-me stage." So many little kids are coddled and pumped up to believe that everything they do is cute and adorable and given everything they want, so that they becomes little selfish narcissists who only care about "me, me, me."

TOADY

I love your writers for the descriptions! So hilarious...mostly for the fact that they are true. The TOADYs are the awards I look forward to every year. Keep up the great work that CCFC is doing.

Put Me in the Story

When I was a kid, I was an avid reader and one Christmas my grandmother gave me some special books that had my name and the name of my brother in them. This was before personalization was so easy, and I thought they were great. I don't think it is fair to assume that just because a child has a story with himself in it that he will not read other stories. I grew up surrounded by books, and am currently surrounded by books, and I am a full-time writer. So two books with me as a character did not make me unwilling to read anything else, and I also like to think that I am not entirely self-focused. I don't think put yourself in the story books are a terrible idea.

Lego Friends "prefab"? Hardly.

I'm personally lukewarm on the Friends line, but in fairness it's a stretch to call the set shown here "prefab." See this very detailed pictorial review by an adult Lego fan (not me, btw): http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=65857

Particularly apropos to the current discussion is this comment from the reviewer's concluding remarks:
"For people who buy sets just for parts: particularly for the new colours, you can't really get much better than this set without looking at the doll's house (I mean, Olivia's House). Just about everything in this set is potentially reusable, and there are even a few uncommon and hard to come by parts - especially if you like tiles and transparent pieces."

I don't see much evidence for asserting that Lego has removed the building aspect of its toys here.

Also note that the number of pieces (221) is within the range of other $25 Lego sets this year (msrp for this one appears to be $25, not $29, which only matters for comparing piece counts, but still...).

I agree in preferring 'regular' Lego people to the Friends minidolls. I would rather see a project like the following become a reality, for example (also not mine): http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/15401 I love this idea (I won't explain Lego's Cuusoo Project here, but if you find the Friends minidolls stereotypical, voting for the "Female Minifigs" set shown there is one way to seek positive change).

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