Each year the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) selects five toys as finalists to contend for the dreaded TOADY Award. Presented by the nonprofit with the mission of "reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers," it may come as little surprise that TOADY stands for Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children. Once the TOADY shortlist is published, voting is open to the public — so we can all vote on the most deplorable toy on the market.
This year’s winner will share its place in everlasting infamy with past winners. Last year, the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet took the crown. Also known as the "iPad for babies," the Vinci seemed to ask, who really needs to interact with their infants anyway?! The 2010 winner was the saucy little Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Blonde Barbie Doll; with a role model like that, your little girl can get a head start on yearning for physically impossible body proportions and the stripper fashions in which to flaunt them.
For your consideration, CCFC's five worst toys of 2012:
1. LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop by LEGO
“Get primped and pretty at the posh LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop,” implore the folks at LEGO. Because the plain old building of things is so boring, apparently, and heaven forbid children should have to tap into their creativity and actually rely on simply constructing something for fun. Fortunately, we now have the LEGO beauty salon where girls can wield unnaturally giant tubes of lipstick, sharpen their consumer habits with fake LEGO money blocks, and generally hone their pampered princess shtick. (Price: $29/Recommended age: 6-12)
2. TheO ball by Physical Apps
Who says you can’t improve upon the oldest toy ever? Consider the ball. Yes, the ball has been supplying kids (and adults) with endless hours of fun, exercise and eye-hand coordination improvement since the beginning of time. But now, with the new TheO ball, you can tuck your smartphone into a ball and switch on the app of your choice and play video games! Balls are so yesterday.
3. Put Me In The Story App by Jabberwocky Kids
For the "ME ME ME" generation, this app is designed to kidnap the heroes and heroines of best-selling children’s books and replace them with imposters ... namely, your children. Parents can customize the books to star their favorite little offspring, and then share it on Facebook! Because it’s just really never too early to start training your child in the fine art of narcissism. (Price: $30/Recommended age: 3+)
4. The 7-Eleven Slurpee Maker by Spin Master
For parents who want to give the gift of a continuous advertisement for convenience stores and junk food, this is the toy for you. This heavily branded toy will not only allow your kid to make his own Slurpees, but it will constantly remind him to ask you take him to 7-Eleven to get a real Slurpee. All sets include a free coupon for a Slurpee — after all there’s no better time to hook a kid on magical fluffy drinks made from high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors. (Price: $35/Recommended age: 6+)
5. Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey by Fisher Price
This stuffed animal with a slot to insert your iPhone (some kind of smartphone marsupial?) is just creepy. The makers could have just as easily named it the Laugh & Learn Lobotomy Monkey. Honestly, we have all of our teen and adult years to be attached to our electronics; do we really need to train infants in gadget addiction at the tender age of 6 months? And notice the coining of the word "apptivity." Some Fisher Price marketing executive is patting himself on that back for that one. Now parents can rest assured thinking that their wee little baby is actually performing an "activity" … while in the drug-like stupor that mindless electronics can induce. (Price: $30/Recommended age: 6 months+)