Many of us will be out shopping (or at least rolling over in bed to shop on our phones) this holiday weekend, and more than a few of us will be picking up toys for the youngsters we love (or are obligated to be near at least twice each year). In advance of this retail rush, the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood has put out its list of kids’ toys that will warm the cockles of marketing executives around the world, and make other folks long for the days of wooden trains on pull strings.
Once again the CCFC has released its nominees for the TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year, and this year the list is filled with familiar faces — from the year’s biggest name in mobile gaming, to superheroes from both Marvel and DC, to a board game that not only teaches your kids about important brands but also uses actual branded playing pieces.
Let’s just get to it, shall we?
Pokemon GO ($0)
While the wildly popular augmented reality mobile game has been credited with getting at least some kids off the couch and outside, the CCFC reminds folks that it’s all “under the watchful eye of marketers.”
“Pokemon GO prepares kids for a future where games are so fun, players don’t even realize they’re being lured into sponsored locations,” writes CCFC. “And if you’re worried about your little one exploring the world on their own, fret not: with Pokemon GO’s constant location tracking, you can rest assured that Niantic and its corporate partners can find them at any moment!”
View-Master Batman: The Animated Series Virtual Reality Pack ($44.99)
While it might call itself a “View-Master” this is not the classic kids’ stereoscopic slideshow viewer. In fact, it’s just a $45 virtual reality smartphone headset with a Batman logo on it. Like the many less-expensive, non-branded VR it’s worthless without the phone.
Beyond those concerns, the CCFC has concerns about the fact that parents can’t see what their kids are looking at — and in the world of Batman things can get a bit violent — “not to mention motion sickness and ER trips when they run into walls, furniture, or fall down stairs. Insert your smart phone and forget about it—until they wake up with nightmares!”
Game of Life: Empire ($19.99)
Remember a few years back when Hasbro combined the utter boredom of playing Monopoly with the awesome of consumer branding? Now they’ve done it again, with a version of the company’s classic “Life” board game that includes awesome ads for Xbox, Transformers, Yahoo, Polaroid, Heinz, Burger King, Skype and much, much, oh lord too much more — all for only $20. No, that’s not what you get paid for having to look at ads for two hours; you pay Hasbro for that privilege.
Writes CCFC: “Is your little philosopher struggling to understand the true meaning of life? Good news! The Game of Life Empire shows kids what it’s really all about: owning the world’s top brands, and collecting judgmental fans and followers along the way!”
Shopkins Tall Mall Playset ($34.99)
“It’s a terrific deal for kids and toy sellers both: once you buy one, you’ve got to shop, shop, shop til you collect ‘em all!” writes CCFC. “They won’t simply add oodles of clutter to your living room… your kids will soon be after you to get the display case. And what a case… it’s a replica of the temple of consumerism: The Shopping Mall!”
Play-Doh Hulk and Iron Man ($12.99)
Writes CCFC: “Looking to limit your child’s creativity this holiday season? Hasbro’s got you covered! Play-Doh Smashdown Hulk and Iron Man sets transform good old-fashioned modeling clay into angry PG-13 rated superheroes – no imagination required. Just push small amounts of clay into tiny hand and foot molds, and the branded can-heads do the rest.”
Lulu’s 11-Piece Makeup Set ($14.99)
“With a recommended age of 3 – 20, the Pink Fizz 11-Piece Makeup Set makeup set is the ultimate in age compression,” says CCFC, which points out that disclosures on the box state that some of the makeup products might “irritate skin, make kids sick, or even catch on fire. Small prices to pay for perfecting your preschooler’s pouty poses and teaching her the important truth: beauty is pain.”
Source: Consumer Reviews