Identifying the Worst Toy of the Year

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood is taking nominations through Wednesday for the worst toy of the year. The winner will receive a TOADY award, a name mocking the Toy Industry Association's TOTY Award. While TOTY stands for Toy of the Year, TOADY is an acronym for Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children.

The TOADY candidates -- there are five of them -- were chosen for various attributes CCFC considers destructive to a child's development.

Legos Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop

Lego Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop made the list for allegedly promoting condescending stereotypes. The entire Lego Friends line has been the subject of a media campaign calling for its demise spearheaded by an eating disorder specialist named Carolyn Costin. She found the focused use of pinks and purples as well as the curvier shapes of the character blocks objectionable. Her petition was embraced by some parents and dismissed by others who love the blocks and say they make Legos more girl-friendly.

The O Ball

This one's a head scratcher. Who would want to turn their smart phone into a bouncing ball? That's what this foam toy by Physical Apps proposes to do -- encase smart phones in foam balls so kids can play Wii-style games with them. The concept fails to uphold the line between parental tools and kid toys. CCFC's objects to it for a different reason, though. The O Ball substitutes electronics for real exercise, CCFC says.

Put Me in the Story

CCFC objects to this app because it makes kids the center of stories. It's insurance the kid will never grow out of the cute, all-about-me stage, the consumer organization says. What makes this app different from the paper book grandma buys where your child is the protagonist is it makes your child the star of every story. Then again, there are only three stories the app works with at present. For the time being, the risk of creating a narcissistic monster with this toy seems limited. The app does seem to take away from the child the the task of imagining himself in the story.

Learn and Laugh Apptivity Monkey

Fisher Price calls it the best of both worlds, a cuddly friend that's also an interactive learning toy. Like the O ball, it has space for an iPhone to be tucked in for baby's use to learn shapes and colors electronically. CCFC says it's marketed with "bogus educational claims," in including it on the TOADY candidate list.

7-11 Slurpee Maker

CCFC objects to this toy on dual grounds. It allegedly promotes consumption of a full day's sugar in a single drink and encourages brand loyalty.

If any of these toys get your goat, go ahead and vote; if another toy is on your "do not buy" list, you can write it in instead of choosing one of the CCFC candidates. The TOADY award for worst toy of the year will be announced Thursday.

Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about consumer issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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