In 2009, it was Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie (complete with tiny, tiny shorts and big, big hair) who took the prize. But what's the most odious children's toy of 2010?
The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood wants your opinion, as it prepares to award its second annual TOADY Award. The TOADY (as in: Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) is a subversive—and, needless to say, unauthorized—spin-off of the Toy Industry of America's annual Toy Of The Year, or TOTY, Awards (which include such specialized categories as "boy toy," "girl toy," "electronic entertainment toy" and—in a nod to the more driven parent—"educational toy.")
To help voters narrow down the list of potential contenders—sadly, as anyone who's ever strolled the toy aisle at Target can attest, there are plenty—CCFC offers a list of five nominees, selected "from among the thousands of toys that promote violence and/or precocious sexuality and/or push branded entertainment and electronic wizardry at the expense of children's play."
They include a $2,599 (no, that's not a typo) kiddie-sized work cubicle "complete with an IBM computer" that "keeps tots' eyes glued firmly on the 19-inch flat screen monitor by eliminating pesky distractions, like the outside world"; the BARBIE? DOLL'D UP NAILS" Digital Nail Printer, for little girls with a taste for manicures; a weapons-heavy toy for grade-schoolers spun off from the heavily violent HALO video game; and a portable projector that allows kids to watch DVDs and play video games anywhere—even outside, where, you know, there's nothing fun for kids to do anyway. ("Take it to the beach—and project the Little Mermaid on that sandcastle the other kids built," CCFC sardonically suggests. "Take it to the park—and play baseball video games projected on the little league backstop.")
But to this kill-joy mom, they all pale in comparison to the fifth nominee, AddictingGames.com, a video game site owned by the kiddie network Nickelodeon that features such wholesome games as Stealthy Hitman ("Your Next Victim is Waiting"), Paint War ("Crude and Brutal Blasting"), and Animal Wars ("The only good enemy in this game is a dead one, so show no mercy!")—not to mention the "Perry the Sneak" games, starring a peeping Tom who peers into the windows of underdressed women. Most galling, in CCFC's opinion, is "Nick's decision to promote—and link to—the site on every page of its websites for preschoolers like NickJr.com and Neopets. So the next time you see Dora the Explorer smiling sweetly on your child's computer, remember that stalking, murder, and torturing animals is only a click away!"
TOADY votes can be cast online at www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/toady2010.html. Voting ends on May 10, and the winner of this most dubious honor will be announced May 12.