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Worst Kids Toys of 2006

By Melissa Summers

I’m not someone who believes television is evil, because how can television be evil when Spongebob Squarepants is on it? No, I don’t think television is evil — but I do think advertising is.

I know how to say no to my kids, so when they ask for every single thing they see on television it doesn’t faze me. The problem starts when a gift giving occasion comes up and I am forced to discern what things on their wish list are worthwhile entertainment and what things (that looked like tons of fun on the commercial) will be played with for 2.4 minutes before they are abandoned.

What I’m saying is that I spend a lot of time trying to figure out which gifts are worth it and which are just lessons in the manipulative power of advertising. I swear that’s about thirty percent of parenting, right there.

Because I am helpful, I’ve compiled a quick guide to some toys you should stay away from — i.e. the ones my kids lost interest in after approximately two minutes. Let’s consider this my Anti-Gift Guide. Happy holidays!

Don’t Buy These Toys

Dr. Dreadful’s Freaky Food Lab looks like big freaky fun in the commercial. In their own mad scientist-style labratory, your child creates edible concoctions shaped like spiders and snakes. Problem? It’s messy, the molds don’t release and the concoctions taste like what I suspect it would taste like if I wanted to chew on the sole of my running shoes. I don’t and neither do my kids. This toy got about 45 minutes of use, since it takes that long to cook up a batch of rubbery garbage to eat. Another thing to hate? All the recipe packets contain traces of nuts, so don’t buy it for your allergic child. Unless you think a trip to the ER would up the freaky fun factor.

Go Go My Walking Pup has become code for “This probably isn’t as fun as it looks” in our house. When my daughter sees something on television she wants and I know it’s going to be stupid I say, “Remember Go Go?” And she does, Oh yes, that. Go Go My Walking Pup is a FurReal Friend — we also had the FurReal Cub and if Go Go has become symbolic of all toys that look fun but aren’t, the FurReal Cub has become symbolic of all the toys you want to punch in the face a few times. Go Go was supposed to go for walks with you and come when called. The commercial showed a little girl in an elaborate fantasy where Go Go gave out kisses and came when called.  My dog-obsessed daughter thought It’s practically like a real dog! And Go Go was like a dog, a hard of hearing dog who never did what he was asked to do. I’ll never forget the hour after we opened Go Go where my daughter called to Go Go about 100 times. “Go Go. Come here Go Go. Go Go. Go GO! GO GO!!! Here Go Go! Come here girl!” I knew within 15 minutes this toy was a bust.

Moon Sand is a new addition to my Anti-Gift List. I purchased this on a whim for my daughter’s birthday. And yes, I will admit that I fell for the Moon Sand commercials. It’s like sand! But better because it’s like wet sand without the mess of a sand table and water in the house! Moon Sand is an interesting concept: Build sand castles without the beach! In reality the sand doesn’t really stick all that well, pulling the sand out of the molds inevitably winds up with a piece falling off, and even though you get a small inflatable container for your moon sand, it still crumbles all over the place. Way to go Moon Sand! You’ve now made me mad by spreading your tiny particles all over my house, but I can get over that if the kids are having some fun at least. The fun lasted for 18 minutes. My daughter said (and this is an actual quote), “I’d rather just play with Play Doh.” Moon Sand even irritated the kids (something Play Doh never did).

Bratz dolls make my list even though I’ve never bought one or had one come into our home. I’ve told my daughter no Bratz dolls because they’re not very nice girls (which honestly is just code for “they look like tiny whores”). Madison has countered by suggesting, “They’re actually really nice, Mom! They just look mean.” Oh, sweet, sweet Madison … they don’t look mean — in fact, they look awfully nice, for the right price, at least for an hour. And if the generic Bratz dolls weren’t enough, let’s talk about the Bratz Big Babyz Bubble Blowing Trouble doll. My friend’s daughter got this on as a gift (from her mother in law). The “Product Features”description was one of the most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever read: “Yasmin drinks from her special soda bottle to start the action. She hiccups, giggles and blows real bubbles.” Umm … does this sound like a date rape scenario to anyone else? Maybe it’s a teaching tool: “Madison, if anyone offers you a ‘special soda bottle’ at a party, please don’t drink from it. Okay? Okay.”

Your turn: What toys make your Anti-Gift Guide?

More From AlphaMom

The Very Best Kid Christmas Gift
I Don’t Give My Teens Money for Christmas — Here’s Why
And So This Is Christmas

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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Chelle
Guest

Hands down, the Password Journal .It is supposed to open by recognizing the owner’s voice and, it so does NOT. Also, the constant shrilling of “INTRUDER! INTRUDER! makes my ears bleed.

Kate
Guest
Kate

thanks! I was going to buy some moon sand today.

Krissa
Guest

Oh, my god, I’m so glad to hear it’s not just ME that thinks the Bratz are like tiny bitchy prostitutes. I just started teaching this year and every single one of my 1st grade girls have a Bratz backpack and to quote Logan, it’s like, WTF? Who are these hookers?

Dayna
Guest

Every November, Hot Wheels starts advertising their newest, more giant than last year, $40 set of misery. We’ve fallen for the T-Rex and a few others. 20 minutes of interest and 2 months of trying to find somewhere to store it before taking it to Goodwill.
Last year, the new Bat Cave and a swinging Spiderman set were really busted too.
Glad you reviewed Go-Go. I’m debating the realistic dogs – I think I’ll stick with Littlest Pet Shop stuff.

Nicole
Guest

Oh, thank God I’m not the only parent who has said “no” to Bratz! We call them “Hoochie Mamas” in our house. Our 6 year-old keeps begging for these darn things. Have you notice how much bigger the Bratz section has gotten in the stores? It is killing me. Who is buying these things?

chris
Guest

We had something like Go Go one year. Such a disappointment.
But the worst was this expensive room guarding robot that we couldn’t figure out how to work or what it was even supposed to do.
Oh and there was the toy microscope that was give to my son as a birthday present. It cost $12 and you know what they say about getting what you pay for. It was total crap. Such crap that I indignantly brought it back to the store.

lastewie
Guest

Melissa? Thank you SO much for spelling “faze” correctly here. I think it’s the only time I’ve seen it.
Whew. OCD is over. On to the presents.
I don’t have kids. But I remember as a child getting a chemistry set that looked really cool. I ended up mixing bleach with ammonia. Yeah. Chlorine Gas. WWI weapon.

Jen
Guest
Jen

I hear ya on the Bratz. My 5-year-old is asking for one and so far, I’ve been able to keep it out of the house. My most recent addition to the Anti-Gift Guide is the new (and hot) Dora Talking Register. It was a gift for my 3-year-old (I know, a bit young), but even the 5-year-old is done with it after one day. Too many little pieces, too much effort. (Age range is listed as 3 to 8 years; I argue that any older than 6 and they don’t want much to do with Dora, but any younger than… Read more »

E
Guest

This one is kind of old, but it’s still out there – FLOAM. DO not get it. It looks like so much fun to the kids on the commercial. Especially when they tell you that you can ‘floam your bike’. Well, the stuff smells, is hard to work with for little hands, and if my kids think they are going anywhere near anything expensive with it, well… they aren’t.

melanie
Guest

I hate bratz dolls …and is it me or does the one in the picture have cankles?

melissaS
Guest
melissaS

I have another my sister got as a kid: the kids pottery wheel. Never worked and was an exercise in incredible frustration.

Amy C
Guest
Amy C

Another anti-Bratz house here. I told my 7 year old that Bratz are for brats and we don’t allow either into our house.
Does anybody know anything about the blendy pens that they show during Nickelodeon shows? My daughter wants them badly and the reviews on Amazon are horrible. Crunch art was a big hit and they sell it at Target, if anybody is interested.

Kimberly
Guest

Mousetrap. Hands down worst. game. ever. I don’t know anyone who didn’t make their kid wait as they put the damn thing together, only to *then* read the instructions and find out that putting it together IS the game. And talk about advertising hype! Create your own mousetrap my ass! I also don’t know a kid who wasn’t bummed right out to find out that there’s only one way to build the mousetrap. The only good thing about this toy is that the pieces are so flimsy, it breaks the first time you play, and then you’re never subjected to… Read more »

silvermine
Guest
silvermine

Oh my gosh, my son keep asking for Moon Sand. I was pretty sure it just wasn’t going to be as wonderful as the ad said it was. 😉
I think we shall avoid that like a tiny sandy plague.

Becky
Guest
Becky

I hate Polly Pockets with a rage similar to what I feel for WalMart. When my mother-in-law bought the girls the Polly Pocket limo, my hate went to a whole new level. It took my husband and I at least 30 minutes worth of combined effort to get the damn thing to work, so needless to say the kids were never able to do it themselves. $50 out the window for Grandma, since she bought two.

veg4me
Guest

That freaky food lab arrived at our house last year as a gift from grandma and it immediately found its way back to the store.
i saw Bratz clothes marketed for tween girls at the store the other day, so they can wear matching outfits with their dolls.
I did that once- when I was Raggedy Ann for Halloween.

LesleyMW
Guest
LesleyMW

I second the Floam comments. My husband had a weak moment watching TV with our 4 yo. He even purchased the larger sized “tubs” – 1in. high cream cheese containers, from the persuasive Floam representative. We now use Floam as our example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you see in commercials. We live with a life hardened 4yo now.

mrvermont
Guest
mrvermont

I agree with previous posts. FLOAM is evil! Our 7 year old daughter plays with modeling clay all day if we let her. We thought FLOAM would be great! WRONG-O! We’re still picking those little balls (because it’s made of little styrofoam balls! WTF??) out of our floors and sofa. Also, BRATZ are evil. We won’t let them in our house either. The makers must know, because every store we visit has a 6 foot tall display of BRATZ dolls for SUPER LOW PRICES TODAY ONLY (ONLY ONLY ONLY). Our daughter keeps trying to get her cousin to give her… Read more »

Kelli
Guest
Kelli

The code word for ‘not as fun as it looks on TV’ in our house is ELEFUN. Talk about an exercise in stupidity. You load the plastic elephant’s ass with butterflies, switch on the motor, its trunk pops up and out come the butterflies! Which little kids are supposed to catch! In nets the size of coffee cups! Except that most of the time the elephant has erectile disorder of the trunk and it won’t fully inflate and the butterflies get stuck and nothing comes out and the children cry.

crazyjane
Guest
crazyjane

i’m having some trouble explaining to my 4yo why brazt are ‘trashy’ she doesn’t quite grasp my meaning. and i’m not quite ready to introduce ‘skanky whorebag’ to her vocabulary.
i have to add the creepy crawlie bug machine thing to the list. really, really messy, smelly, difficult to decorate and when you’re finaly done you have………..a useless rubber bug that usually looks like a freshly stomped on bug.

lizneust
Guest
lizneust

The Bob the Builder workshop with the stupid dumptruck. Bob and the dumb dump truck (looky – alliteration!) work just fine. But the work shop is a pain in the a** to put together, and my three year old decimated it in less than 2 minutes. It’s made of really, really cheap plastic and anything more than the gentlest touch squishes the whole thing flat – permanently. Also, HATE the stupid Bratz dolls. Yeesh.

ChristyD
Guest

Check out the article on Bratz in the New Yorker from a couple of weeks ago.

rascoagogo
Guest

I filled in as Santa with my divorced aunt last year. A RoboSapien was on the big toy setup menu. It took–I kid you not–three hours to free from the packaging. It takes three unusual sizes of batteries. After all that, it totally sucks.
Bratz and Floam are both awful products manufactured by Satan. That there are baby Bratz ho bags makes my stomach turn a little.

Laura B.
Guest
Laura B.

I’m also a charter member of the Anti-Bratz camp. As for my anti-gift, it has to be any of the cheap plastic pottery wheels for kids. The motor on the one we bought wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to allow our daughter to actually make a pot. After 30 minutes of increasing frustration and tears, I told her that I’d give her the money back and she could use it to buy something better (she spent a Target gift card on the piece of crap).

melissaS
Guest
melissaS

I can’t believe I forgot about Elefun! HORRIBLY disappointing.

Kismet
Guest

We bought floam and I hated the smell so badly that I added peppermint and almond flavoring to it hoping to mask the smell…..didn’t work. So when I happened to see the floam left out one day with the lids off I casually walked away without berating anyone to ‘get the lids on or it will dry out and be ruined!’ It did and it was and oh well!
And the moon sand? Same feeling. I even got it as a gift for a friend’s child who also hated it. I like to share my misery.
~K!

iheartnewyork
Guest
iheartnewyork

Oh man — that My Walking Pup toy is such a waste! It never got played with in our house. And Bratz? I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who has banned those little tramps. I’m embarassed for them! Other money wasters, in our experience: any of those LeapFrog “learning” toys for toddlers — the kids were bored with them within minutes (basically anything that’s all about talking is a waste of money, imho); the games Perfection, Operation, Connect Four and Simon Says; the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter; and the “Love Me Baby CHOU CHOU Functional Doll”… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

The Diego Talking Rescue Center. I have to admit, I thought this toy was going to be very cool. It is only cool if you don’t mind it falling apart every 2.4 seconds. With the falling apart every 2.4 seconds is the “MOM, can you put it back together AGAIN?” I hate this toy. I would like to put it in the trash, but I am afraid it will go all Talkie Tina on me. Remeber her from the Twighlight Zone?

bridget
Guest
bridget

dam! I just bought moon sand on sale at walmart. I want to add HEELEY’s to the list. these things are sucking my life force. thanks mother in law, i now have a real reason to hate you!

Michelle
Guest

I just did a post on good toys here:
http://scribbit.blogspot.com/2006/12/christmas-toys-my-kids-love.html
but since you’re looking for evil suggestions, I saw a Pirates of the Caribbean gambling game at Toys R Us that turned my stomach. Teach them to gamble young and they’ll be addicted by age 12. I’m not big on Pokemon either–but there’s not much of a reason for that other that it looks incredibly stupid.

monkeylaurie
Guest

That Bratz doll totally has cankles.

Theresa
Guest

Two years ago, I bought a Bratz doll for my nieces, aged 7 and 9. IMMEDIATELY after I handed the gifts to them and watched them start to play with these things, I felt my chest fill with panic at what I was endorsing… Never again will I give in to the nieces pressure of what to get them for Christmas.
Just say no to Botox Barbies!

L.
Guest

Am I only one who is single-handedly supporting the Bratz doll market? Yeah, I guess that`s possible — my daughter has enough of them now to open her own little whorehouse. Actually, I think they provide a good balance to the far-too-wholesome values she`s picking up at her Catholic school.
The worst toy we ever got were some cheap-ass made-in-China bathtub paints that were supposed to wash right off, but ended up staining grout, cloth, and….skin.

kristenv
Guest
kristenv

Those large elaborate Lego sets (we bought two Knight’s Kingdom ones last year) are miserably complicated to put together…took my husband and I several hours each to do one for our two 5 year-olds. And they were around $75 for a set. The kids were so desperate to have them and they broke them down in just a few minutes after we’d put them all together. Ugh! We’ll never do that again.
Seriously, NOTHING beats just a regular tub of plain old-fashioned Lego blocks with no instructions, just your own imagination.
Happy Holidays!

Lissy
Guest

I absolutely agree with the Ele(notso)fun comment! If the elephant is capable of getting his trunk up for a solid butterfly blow, the “fun” lasts all of 5 seconds and then the parent gets to turn it off, reload the elephants ass and hope it works again – unless the process annoys you as much as it does us and then you wish for the erectile issue so the kids will just hurry up and get the crying over with! We literally hide this game so we don’t have to watch my 3 – almost 4 year old suffer from… Read more »

summer
Guest

rock polisher! My daughter begged and begged for this thing. But it’s just not as much fun as it looks, really.
easy bake oven. I know it’s a classic, but seriously. A light bulb? By the time my kid is into cooking, she can stand on a stool in the kitchen with me.

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

I have to disagree with the Leapfrog reference. For the past two years, the only thing my son consistently plays with (and will sit remotely still for) are his Leapfrog products. He just turned five last month.
What we wish people would stop buying for our son: electronic robots and remote controlled cars. He plays with these toys for about two seconds until they break, then they are off to the Box of Broken and Boring Toys.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

InteracTV. My 3 year old foudn it way too slow to respond to her commands. It’s basically a tv show with a few choices along the way but it’s boring after the first time unless you buy more discs.

melissaS
Guest
melissaS

I forgot about Interactv. Actually I remembered but it bubbled up so much irritation in my throat I had to leave it alone. Horrible stupid product. Waste of money and effort.
My daughter loved Leap Pad and Leapster, my son never liked Leap Pad but likes Leapster. The other products, like the Count and Learn Shopping Cart were a little flat.

wookie
Guest
wookie

My personal hate is really anything animatronic and/or talking. If it makes noise, I don’t want it in my home (although I tolerate leappad type products – barely… the kids have done really well with them). I actually threw the talking My Little Pony baby into the garbage because it just creeped me out that much. The sounds of the motors turning its head and the click click as it’s eyelids fluttered and said: “Good morning Mommy! I love you!”… it was just that bad. I have given to charity the praying lamb, the hokey pokey cookie monster, the tumbling… Read more »

Vikki
Guest

I agree with the commenter who added Elefun to the list. My friend had this and set it up for our kids. It’s more like EleAsthma – the elephant couldn’t blow the butterflies higher than a couple of inches.

Lisa
Guest

Am I only one who is single-handedly supporting the Bratz doll market? Yeah, I guess that`s possible — my daughter has enough of them now to open her own little whorehouse No, I think we’re the other person in the world buying these dolls. My daughter has a huge bin full of them and wants more for Christmas this year. I finally said NO MORE ~ she’s 10 how much longer is she going to play with these things? I completely agree on the Easy Bake Oven. I was so against this “toy” an my mom went behind my back… Read more »

Laura Lou
Guest
Laura Lou

I second the rock polisher comment. It looks like fun for science-oriented older kids, but it takes FOREVER to polish the rocks (seriously, weeks). Not only that but it’s incredibly loud–think throwing rocks into your dryer only with a louder motor. After several weeks of banging and groaning and multiple steps of polishing you get some shinier rocks that still don’t look anything like the picture. Skip it.
And yes, that Bratz doll has some serious cankles. Actually, they sort of start at the thigh, is there such a thing as thankles?

Monkee
Guest

Every time I see a Bratz doll, I die a little inside. Barbie has jumped on the band wagon with the my scene Barbies, some of which now have pins in their faces that you can push from behind to change their expression. If that doesn’t just scream “all the nerves in my face are dead because I’ve had one to many botox injections and I need you to help me smile at the Johns so I can make some money walking the streets tonight” I don’t know what does. My husband and I refer to them and the bratz… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Boy does this take me back..my kids are 19 and 21 now but what memories! My best or the worst was the baby shivers doll who was supposed to be a real life replica of an infant…that was ok but to get it to “shiver” you had to pull its head completely off to install the batteries..I still remember my 3 year old walking in on my husband and I in the bathroom with the headless doll held between us…the look on her face will haunt me forever!

Amy
Guest
Amy

I second the dream of having a plain ol’ boring box of legos!! The sets they make now are just this side of horrifying to put together and where is the creativity??
Also is the class of Bratz haters. My mom is buying my 5 year old a ton of them this Christmas just to piss me off. Gotta love her! They are total whores in a box.

Reba
Guest
Reba

I have to admit that I caved to the evilness that is BRATZ. Something to do with repressed disappointment over never getting what I wanted as a kid. How does easy bake oven get confused with pink foam curlers???
I reconcile the Bratz skankiness by pointing out their inappropriate clothing choices. We call it “Sassy”. And say things like “they sure must be chilly”.
Reba

Reese
Guest
Reese

Wow, I think everyone of these toys has come into my house at one time or another. My MIL completely falls for the kids begging for whatever crap Nickelodean is selling to them. We’ve had Elefun (ach, took it in to preschool for ‘fun’ day w/o trying it at home first), GoGo, Robosapien, FLOAM, 3 different versions of Easy bake oven, a couple chemistry/biology sets… One of the worst was this set of blowpens- you put ink in the end, then blew through a straw to make designs on the paper- ink either didn’t come out at atll or went… Read more »

Traca
Guest
Traca

Thanks for the warning on Floam, my son has been begging for a year for that thing. The one thing that crashes and dies every year for us is the hot wheel sets. We spend hours setting them up and they never work past two tries. I also hate those stupid laser guns!! I am going to kill the next relative that gifts those evil toys. I swear.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Hi all, Well I’m a Mom with 3 grown sons, curently helping co-parent 3 boys, also all under age 14 & I am a Grandma and Im 50. I have 4 Grand-aughters! Whew!! that all just wore me out!!:)& so of course, now I cant find the right kind of sand for indoor play in time for XMAS yet!! So this moon-sand seemed like the solution. However, I’ve yet to win any at my highest bids on ebay. Any suggestions what to use thats non-toxic for indoor sand table play? Will Sand that you use for crafts thats colored work?… Read more »