2013 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 2013 TOADY.

Monopoly Empire by Hasbro
Price: $
19.99
Recommended Age: 8+
For more than 60 years, Monopoly was almost the perfect board game. But one thing was missing: ads! Fortunately, the good people at Hasbro rectified that with Monopoly Empire, where “Every space on the board is an iconic brand.” Goodbye to the boring old hat and shoe. Hello to “cool brand tokens” like McDonald’s fries or an xBox controller. Instead of buying properties, players race around the board collecting brands—Boardwalk and Park Place are now Coca-Cola and Samsung—and build towers out of billboards. Is there a better way to teach kids that whoever owns the most brands, wins? Vote now >

PLAY-DOH Create ABCs App by PlayDate Digital Inc.
Price: $1.99
Recommended Age: 4+
Remove the unseemly mess from Play Doh . . . and all the icky creativity that comes along with it. No longer will kids waste precious moments imagining what to make. The PLAY-DOH Create ABC’s app chooses it for them! And every “creation” is exactly the same—perfect! If your children even try to slide a foot or a tail in the wrong place, the app automatically sets it right. No more awkward guesses about what those Play Doh creations are supposed to be—if your little one even bothers to look up from the screen to show you. Vote now >

VIP Upgrade Membership by The Real Tooth Fairies
Price: $58.90/year
Recommended Age: 5-10+
If your jaded little princess is bored with traditional visits from the Tooth Fairy, The Real Tooth Fairies VIP Upgrade Membership makes the perfect gift. For only $59.90/year, you can transform a unique childhood icon into a generic fashion doll website and brand, complete with stifling gender stereotypes. In Real Fairyland, girls can use their “sparkle dollars” to give their Tooth Fairy a makeover, party in their “party room” and mock the buck-toothed, glasses-wearing fairy-wannabe Stepella. And with the VIP Upgrade, girls get a closet that “holds 200 fairy fashions instead of just 25!” After all, no self-respecting Tooth Fairy wears the same outfit twice. Vote now >

Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus by Fisher Price
Price: $39.99
Recommended Age: 3-8
Finally, a way to get kids excited about dinosaurs—by loading them up with heavy artillery! The Fisher-Price Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus is the only toy dinosaur complete with armor and two firing cannons on its back. Battery powered, it moves and roars and shoots without kids having to move a muscle—or use their imaginations. If only the real dinos had been packing heat, maybe they wouldn’t have gone extinct! Vote now >

 

iPotty by CTA Digital
Price: $34.99
Recommended Age: 18 months+
Would your little one rather lie around in a poopy diaper than miss a second of his favorite show? Then you need the CTA Digital 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad. No more struggles to get little Bobby or Susie to use the potty—with all the mesmerizing apps and videos, they’ll want to stay on there all day! Start them learning early that there’s a screen for every occasion.
Vote now >

 

 

 
We encourage you to campaign for your TOADY choice in the comments below, but you must click here to fill out a ballot if you want your vote to be counted.

Comments

Monopoly...really?

Ridiculous that Monopoly Empire is on this list with all of the other horrible toys out there. I own this game and it allows me to interact with my autistic 8 1/2 year old while playing his favorite game, Monopoly. Normally, we cannot complete a game since the original takes hours sometimes for a winner to emerge, and he just does not have the attention span for hours of board game play. This form of the game allows us to play Monopoly and finish in a reasonable amount of time, about a half-hour. When I come home from work we can play a nice interactive game in that period of time and still have plenty of room for homework, dinner, etc. Please stop putting up board games that still allow parents to interact with their children and start picking on the horrid world of Barbie (which I note there is not ONE Barbie toy on the list even though now she is an ornament to put on the tree as well), that teaches young girls unhealthy ideals about how their bodies, faces and hair should look.

It was the product placement . . .

We nominated Monopoly Empire for the product placement and that the entire game is about interacting with brands, not because it's a shorter version of Monopoly. We love board games -- just not when they're packed for of ads. As for Barbie, she took home the very first TOADY and was nominated in 2011, as well.

Oh my!

All five of your nominations are so bad my jaw is still dropped! Voting was difficult, to say the least...so many deserving "winners!" It is really sad that so many companies have truly perverted childhood and play, when they could probably make just as big profits with something more positive. That they even consider these to be good toys? Seriously? OMG! Thank you for your work! Today's entries show the tide is difficult to turn, but every bit helps! Yikes.

The Tooth Fairy empire

is standing in for Barbie this year. I'm sure she will be back. That said, how does one choose among such disasters?

Monopoly Junior

Have you seen the game Monopoly Junior, though? It is a quicker, easier version of Monopoly that you could play quickly, but without brand logos all over it.

iPotty

All the nominees are awful choices for children! In my opinion, the iPotty is the worst. Bad enough that electronic toys are 'taking over our children's world' now they can't even go potty without electronic overstimulation?

Makes me cringe imagining sweet little toddlers and preschoolers sitting on the electronic potty rather than having meaningful discussions with their families or singing songs together (this is what we do when our daughter sits on the potty). Well intentioned families may buy this thinking that their little one will be entertained on the potty or that they might sit on the potty longer. Poor little babies......

I Regret I Have But One Vote

It really was a toss-up between PLAY-DOH Create ABCs App and the iPotty. But in the end, Play-Doh won out since it made special pains to stifle all creativity and enforce conformity. Who knows, maybe the iPotty will self-destruct after a couple of mishaps.

Why is everyone picking on Barbie?

Why is everyone picking on Barbie? Yes I know she has a pretty perfect body and is all about fashion, but have you noticed that she is more realistically proportioned now than a generation ago? I have several of the Barbie movies for my girls, and they are mostly about working out friendships and having brave adventures. There is far less of the cattiness and boyfriend obsession that you would find in, say, Bratz or Monster High. And you can buy many Barbie dolls which are not characters from the movies or anything and are more conducive to creative play.

I say down with the ipotty! And the weird sexy fairies! Oh wait do I have to pick just one?

Faster monopoly

Monopoly Crazy Cash is a nice, quick version of monopoly for kids. Even has an ATM machine!

"Really?"

How is a person, in this case a caring grandmother, supposed to make a choice. Every single item mentioned is despicable. The "Real Tooth Fairies" may be the worst, but I really can't make up my mind. Yuck!

Dinosaur

Hey there,

Could you please explain a bit about why you chose the dinosaur? Is it because it glorifies violence? Or because children that play with it may form an inaccurate understanding of palaeontological findings?

Inconsistent

I'm with you on the iPotty and Real Tooth Fairies for suggesting that normal parts of life would benefit from commercialization or distraction. As you describe it, though, the Play-Doh app doesn't sound oppressive or destructive, just boring.

Now the Mega Apatasaurus, that actually looks cool! I don't understand how that qualifies as TOADY. I'm not saying I'd necessarily buy it for my child, especially if she or he already had dinosaur figures, but a robotic battling dinosaur could spark a lot of imaginative play. Not all technological enhancements are bad.

Finally, with regard to Monopoly Empire, you got it completely wrong. First of all, original Monopoly isn't even close to a "perfect game." Among other problems, Monopoly depends way too much on luck and not enough on strategic decision-making.

Second, while the game's precursor, The Landlord Game, was designed to teach the evils of capitalism, Monopoly itself became popular for the opposite reason. It gave people the opportunity to play at becoming wealthy and bankrupting their opponents. Is that the type of activity and lesson you're trying to protect?

Third, Monopoly is a game that has players building business empires. In the original version, those businesses were based on the real-estate industry in Atlantic City. All this new version does is update the game to industries and businesses with which modern players are more familiar.

What a choice!?

This year's choices seem to be worse than ever! Sadly, it is a very difficult decision. The iPotty is truly terrible. In addition to teaching children that a screen is useful everywhere for every thing, it also becomes a bargaining tool for kids. I can just see a kid demanding " I'll eat my vegetables if I can watch a video..."

But the PlayDoh app will get my vote this year. To take the fun out of a toy, just make it digital! With this app, kids won't ever enjoy the feel of a brand new can of PlayDoh, or its memorable smell. There is no mess, so no one has to learn about cleaning up. And gone is the tactile enjoyment of rolling and cutting and squishing and being creative. Most adults have childhood memories of PlayDoh. No doubt, kids that use the digital app will not.

I'm really torn between

I'm really torn between IPotty and Tooth Fairy. The former is ridiculous, providing yet another distraction from an activity that young children really do need to pay attention to (something I've discovered after helping some of the young ones I babysit learn to use the potty). The latter reenforces ridiculous gender stereotypes and encourages bratty, spoiled, "princess" behavior.

TOADY choices

Hard though it was to choose just one, I voted for the iPotty. The age range it's aimed at is a particularly vulnerable one: parents don't need any more encouragement than they're already getting to stick screens in front of toddlers under two. And the possible outcomes all seem beyond grotesque. Will they ever be able to get the child off the potty? Will she consent to transition to a regular toilet without Mommy's or Daddy's iPad in hand? Will she drop the iPad on the bathroom floor while reaching for the toilet paper--or worse, pick it up again afterwards? Will she spend the rest of her life sitting backwards on toilets, her comforting screen propped up on the tank, while her whole family lines up in desperation outside the bathroom, banging on the door?

But oh, consider the dire possibility that the PlayDoh app will get downloaded onto the iPad on the iPotty. . . .

The Apatosaurus doesn't belong here!

The Mega Apatosaurus is a wonderful toy. The armor comes off and the mechanical roar doesn't impede the imagination in any way. Your arguments against it are silly and seeing it next to digital potty chairs and weird Tooth Fairy princess things is really disappointing.

write in candidate

There's a toy called Gooey Louie. It's like operation, but instead of operating on the the guy you're encouraged to pick this giant head's nose for boogers and if you do it too hard his brains fall out. It's really disturbing. I would put that in place of the apatosaurus.

Barbie isn't the source of all evil

Barbie is a doll. It's a bit of a red herring to rant against as the sole scapegoat of all body image issues that girls have since you'd be hard pressed to find ANY doll (even a baby doll) that's a realistic, proportional representation of the human body.

I'm not saying Mattel doesn't release versions of Barbie or related merch that is damaging, but our entire culture gives girls the wrong message about their bodies, not just Barbie.

Wish people would spot metaphorically poo-ing all over Barbie simply because the line's successful or pink or whatever. Especially because more often than not she comes as career woman that teaches girls (and boys!) that women can do anything.

Monopoly with branding all over vs. Kidzania

Perhaps you should have put Kidzania as even worse company up for a TOADY.
This is like the branded Monopoly but then in three dimensions and one where parents are NOT allowed.
It is a playground/little city where children can bottle their own coke, bake their own bread (branded Castaño in Santiago, Chile), be reporter of a newspaper (branded), be doctor in a branded hospital, and can do other "capitalistic" activities but where, e.g., no unions exist, no public transportation (but kids can buy branded cars), no real people problems.
This is something that looks like the real world but is far from what it should be as it is driven ONLY by uncontrolled market forces and we all know where these lead to.

Play-Noh?

Well it was a tough call this year as each of the nominees have their own special way to destroy creativity, encourage sexist stereotypes, encourage screen time or promote violence. I chose the Play-Doh app because at $1.99 I feel it is very accessible and has the potential to reach more children. Play-Doh should be a sensory experience that is open-ended and encourages creativity and imaginative play, this app does none of that.

seconded

Right? The other 4 seemed legitimately bad, but this robotic dinosaur with cannons just looks fun. I wish I had one as a kid. How does it stifle creativity? I can think of so many scenarios where he'd be an excellent villain. Clearly the dinosaur is a product of time travel, and it's up to the rest of my action figures to stop him.

Because...

...apatosaurus was a herbivore. And every dino-obsessed kid who wants this toy will know that.

I agree this toy doesn't deserve the nomination; it's no different from the truckful of other action toys kids have been playing with since the first toy bear was carved by our neolithic ancestors.

Amen!

Amen!

Why no Dino?

My daughter received the Mega Apatosaurus for her birthday and although she did find the missile shooting part interesting at first, she removed it within 5 min and hasn't used it since! All sorts of imaginative play can come from a walking, roaring dinosaur! Not sure why you would put it on a list compared to such horrible ideas as the iPotty and a playdoh app.

Have you read the rules? I mean, REALLY read the rules?

If you're following all the rules to the letter, and not imposing house rules such as the widely used "cash on Free Parking" rule, Monopoly should take 60 to 90 minutes to finish. Keeping more cash in the game just makes it harder to achieve the victory condition, which is driving everyone else into bankruptcy.

Remember, Monopoly was invented by a socialist as a critique of capitalism: the inevitable end result is one winner and a bunch of ruined competitors! So I don't think the product placement in this game is so bad; it just adds another layer to the anticapitalist critique. If you're aware of the critique, that is.

Don't pick on Playdoh!! - we love it

As a preschool teacher and a parent I can say that this is one of the best educational apps out there. Anyone who thinks this belongs here, is voting against literacy and early learning. I own this app and it is It focuses on the critical pre-reading skills that preschoolers and kindergartners need to learn. It uses Playdoh medium in a clever way. The graphics are beautiful and you can even squish the playdoh. My own child has benefited tremendously from this app -- it may not be the unscripted, messy Playdoh experience your are looking for, but there is absolutely NOTHING controversial about it. Don't pick on Playdoh people!

These are ALL Horrible!

Wow?! A disturbing wealth of choices here. This makes me so sad for children of all ages, but I have to go with the potty. Children under three do not need to be exposed to TV or apps at all, but to combine them with such an important developmental milestone is just evil. Potty training deserves individual time and attention from adults. There has to be a transition for children who are used to an adult's touch and attention during diaper changing. Using an electronic surrogate is a disgusting idea that will not help parents maintain or improve their bond with their child.

Impossible to choose-what a year!

Most years I have a clear favorite. This year they're so equally awful I can't choose! Can they ALL be recognized as award-worthy?

Kidzania

I agree, Mr. Linders! Kidzania is THE worst thing I have seen in this realm. It's called 'edutainment' but its 'advertainment'. Its a completely immersive experience in each brand which sponsors part of the kid-size town. Kids go and 'work' in each company. Children are cooks at Burger King where they have Burger King uniforms and make their own burgers, they have banking cards from a real local bank that they get their Kidzania currency on, they paint a building that is sponsored by the local big " Home Depot"- like store...etc.What is interesting to me is that in the countries where they have Kidzania, they all call it edutainment, but the CEO in India talks about how great it is as the ultimate marketing tool for companies and how companies gain access to the "whine" factor, which is kids bugging parents to buy a certain brand. He also emphasizes how important it is for companies to get brand loyalty as early as possible. By having children bottle water for a particular brand in its little child size factory, or be cashiers in tiny branches of the big supermarket chain, you engage the child on every level. I love experiential education, but this is being used in such a corrupt way. Its a kids only town, so generally no parents except at drop off and pick up and children stay for hours and hours. My son, who is 10, was invited to go with friends but we had a long talk about beforehand...I just asked him to think about why those companies would invest part of their budgets on sponsoring the rather elaborate buildings, factories, etc, in Kidzania when Kidzania was a different company. Anyway, we talked a lot about marketing to kids, he had a marvelous time, but he also came home and had interesting observations to make about the value of some of the experiences there and also about the marketing aspect. I just think its important that your kids are conscious of being used by the companies and can see it, that its explicit...they even give you a college degree if you participate in a one hour session in some chosen field (all related to economy and finance, by the way) at a 'university' sponsored by a private university here and then you are paid more for whatever job you do in the town. I love simulations, but the whole value system this is selling is disturbing...they have someone who delivers money for the sponsored security company, and a thief that steals it, and a jail where the thief is incarcerated. Wouldn't it be great if there were huge resources like this devoted to a town that taught kids real life skills, arts, etc and introduced situations that lead to questioning and exploration of values like social justice, governance, citizenship, rather than just promoting brands...

ipotty

Ok. So potty is bad. Just wondering why their are the same screens in front if every child in a van

Not great, but not evil either

Yes, my 6-year old son loves these dinosaurs- as the mom of 3 boys, 12, 9 and 6, we've gone through just about every iteration of dinosaur plaything you can imagine- wooden, plastic, LEGO, tiny, huge, you name it. Mostly, he makes elaborate wooden block "zoos" or enclosures for his Imaginex dinos. No harm, no foul.

Depends.

If you follow the official rules, *and* if the players (or at least one of them) agressively trade for complete groups and build them up, then it should take sixty to ninety minutes to finish. If players don't trade, and if none of them gets a complete group through dumb luck, then it can drag out into a long stalemate.

I vote for (against actually) the dinosaur with artillery.

I agree with others that this year's selections are all completely anti-child imagination, creativity, down time, and hands on. The playdoh app goes against the whole concept of little ones enjoying making all sorts of creations on their own.

Monopoly

I understand much of your frustration with your efforts to interact with your Autistic 8-year old. Having said that, I think there are many other games and many other ways and electronics to be used to interact with him, even in consideration of his limited attention span. I have raised my Autistic granddaughter, age 12-1/2, since birth. In addition, my brother's grandson (both born in 2001) is Autistic. I also understand that no Autistic child is the same in their levels of comprehension, understanding, cognitive skills, command of language and communication, etc. I, however, am not a fan of huge corporations that take advantage of parents and children for profit while giving little in return for our money. I would prefer to find other ways of amusing, interacting and teaching a child than to continuously expose them to advertising and all that this capitalistic country is doing to manipulate people and extract their money. It actually IS possible to have principles and still interact with an Autistic child and provide learning/entertainment without caving in to greedy corporations who (gasp!) do not have the best interests of the American public at heart. Fortunately, my granddaughter has become high-functioning despite all she had to deal with when she was younger including extreme sensory issues, the tantrums, terrible sleep issues, the lack of proper interaction and communication, the ADD, etc. She is now in General Education with the exception of her delays in Math for which she is still in Special Ed. I wish you and your son and family well and hope for the very best for him always.

Thanks for letting me know about the Play Doh app!

What's wrong with a app that teaches letter writing to little kids? My 5-year-old with dysgraphia (a learning disability that affects writing) uses a very similar app called Letter School that's been recommended to us by several occupational therapists. I think the only objectionable aspect about the Play-Doh app is that it has the Play-Doh name on it, which people associate with fun messy creativity. Fun messy creativity is good and kids need more of it. But help learning how to form letters is also good -- they're just two different things. Now it was a tough call between The Real Tooth Fairies and the iPotty -- ick.

really people?

I cannot believe they are branding the tooth fairy! Imagine if they were branding Santa, or the Easter Bunny! That's kind of jerky of them. I also really hate the iPotty. If it is targeted at kids who will not go potty unless the have an iPad, then it is passable, but obviously they are not.

Digital squishing?

I disagree with your statement that voting for this app is 'voting against literacy and early learning'. As a teacher, I believe that young children need to learn through PLAY, hence the name PLAYDoh. I do not call tapping on a screen PLAY. That is the objection here. PlayDoh play is educational when it is a sensory, creative type of play. That is how preschoolers learn. Do you truly believe 'squishing' PlayDoh on a screen is possible? It is not.

Yet another ridiculous plastic toy that promotes violence

I disagree with people's comments about the Fisher Price violent dinosaur. Not only historically inaccurate in so many ways, it looks like it would probably not stand up to much play. Worst of all, it promotes violence, and in such a ridiculous way to boot. It takes away a whole range of other play options that a dinosaur toy alone would allow for. Let the kids decide how to play with the toys themselves. Sadly, with so many violent options in toys and media around, many will do this (opt for violence) on their own. There is no need to push the violence any further here.
Is it the worst on the list? Hard to say--they're all pretty horrible!

The only pre-reading skill

The only pre-reading skill preschoolers and kindergartners need to learn is how to beg their parents to keep reading them books.

They're kidding

Obviously Monopoly isn't a perfect game. I doubt CCFC has anything nice to say about it. The whole blurb is sarcastic.

5 Votes are needed this year!!

As others have stated this year it is extremely difficult to vote for only one toy. Each toy is horrible for influencing the healthy development of young brains!! It is amazing that due to research we know more about what growing brains need most, and yet there is an increase in products and practices that provide just the opposite!!
As awful as the others are.... I have to choose the Play- DOH App... The word, "create" does not belong in the name of this product!!

There can be only one. . .

. . .and it has to be the iPotty. Because, as genuinely terrible as all the others are, they at least deserve credit for waiting to victimize your children when they should at least have some critical thinking capacity.

In contrast, the iPotty wants to get your kids hooked on tablets before they can even walk and talk. I thought that stuffed monkey with the iPad insert was an atrocity, but this is absurd to new levels. At this rate, 2014's TOADY nominees will include a baby mobile with an iPhone insert.

. . . .

I shouldn't have said that, right? I can just tell some corporate douchebag is going to read that line and go "OMG that's a great idea!" and run straight to the board room.

ALL AWFUL!

I was just talking to a vision therapist who said that more and more children are brought to her because they can't visualize and that's essential to learning to read later. Of course, more and more people are expecting all children to read at an earlier age and therapists are finding that younger children have more and more trouble visualizing. The thing that they suspect contributes to this loss of ability to visualize, is that children play with far more toys that are replicas of the actual thing. So, all of these toys contribute to children using less and less of their own imaginations=eye/brain functions and creating their own play. eg. Running around roaring like a dinosaur is better for most children than playing with a scripted character. It takes a different kind of brain function and is possibly essential to the brain developing. "Play" is something very different to "playing with toys." There is play that is basic to emotional and human development and has been necessary to human development long before there were mass produced toys. I think it's important to talk about how it's not just about the way that toys work to socially construct reality, that's of concern too, but there is innate human development that is interrupted. These toys target very young children--and for that reason, they should be critiqued. We are starting to understand how important the first few years of childhood are in terms of life-long development. If children are imagined as future citizens who need to develop the capacity to be human, and not just future consumers, these toys are difficult to justify since they do not promote each child as a unique human being. What kind of society does not protect it's very young? Of course, no one thing has a predictable outcome, so I suppose it depends on how a person feels about taking risks with human development!

I agree! If anyone actually

I agree! If anyone actually watched a Barbie movie they would see that they aren't bad at all. They totally teach about hard work, friendship, and working out issues.

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