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

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.

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?!

legos

Good point about 2 separate universes!

@Adam

"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?

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.

Agree!!!

Agree!!!

IMHO

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 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!

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.

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.

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 :)

YES

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.

learn to read

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

duh

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

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."

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.

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.

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.

Horrible Toy

What is up with the "doggy doo" game - Its a plastic dog that poops (are u kidding me?) - What is the educational value of that???!!!!!

OBall

It's a b.a.l.l. A ball is one of the oldest toys ever - it shouldn't need ($400) instructions.

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.

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.

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.

agree, agree, have you seen

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

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).

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.

Ide0 bawL

-.(\
o_o
Puu-t mah INDA stori App Technically is actuaully really positively not a TOY, but i understand the predicament here.

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.

Disagree

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.

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.

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