Gift Guide: The 10 Worst Toys Of The Season

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Every year around this time, we rush to the toy store in search of bargains for the wee ones, hoping to find that one glorious item hidden among the picked-over dross that is a post-Black Friday Toys ‘R’ Us. But be warned, shoppers: all is not as it seems. You see, lurking in the depths of our nation’s toy shelves, are some of the worst, most horrific toys you can ever imagine, toys so unusable and plain broken that we shudder to even gaze on their horrific boxes. Friends, we present the worst toys of the season.


10. Imaginarium Spiral Train Set
From The Description:

Create a 3D layout with the Imaginarium Wooden Spiral Train Set, a Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive. The track features a double spiral and runs around an airport terminal and runway to bring passengers and cargo to the jet and helicopter.

Why It Sounds Good:

Imaginarium has traditionally offered an alternative to expensive Thomas the Tank Engine tracks and trains, allowing cheap parents to give their kids a train fix without forcing them to take out a second mortgage.

Why It’s Bad:

Where do I start? The tracks fall apart (most commenters on our review recommended using a hot glue gun but I used staples), the slightest breeze will topple the entire thing, and most of the pieces aren’t compatible with other sets because of a slight incline in the track. It is a trifecta of terrible. Building it is like putting together a 3D model of Westminster Abbey blindfolded with a monkey howling in your ear.



9. V.Reader Animated E-Book System
From The Description:

Plays fully animated stories with story narration, character voices, vivid graphics and exciting music and sounds

Why It Sounds Good:

Kids love stories! And they love animation? Why not stick both into a cheap plastic package with a wonky screen?

Why It’s Bad:

Let’s face it: your kids don’t want fake electronics, they want real electronics. I’ve tried to give my son the educational toys for years, starting with a Lil’ Pasty’s Animal Reanimation Kit (don’t ask) and none of them were worth his valuable time. My iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, Nintendo DS, and Xbox 360, however, held his attention for hours. If you’re going to try to go this route, just throw your $60 in the river and give the little tyke your iPod.


8. Playmobil Security Check-Point
From The Description:

The woman traveler stops by the security checkpoint. After placing her luggage on the screening machine, the airport employee checks her baggage.

Why It Sounds Good:

Maybe you’re going to have to fly to grandma’s this year. Shouldn’t your little one be ready to face the soulless representatives of our nation’s security apparatus?

Why It’s Bad:

First off, it’s just plain wrong: the woman traveler will not just slide through security like a greased pig anymore. She’ll be prodded, poked, and padded down or she’ll have her picture taken in the nude. If you wanted to make this more realistic you’d add a back-scatter scanner and countless testy passengers.


7. Step2 Safari Adventure Ball Pit

From The Description:

Safari Adventure Ball Pit provides a safe place for your child to have fun. It is an inflatable that is easy to set up and allows your child to enjoy it outdoors or indoors.

Why It Sounds Good:

It’s a ball pit! Kids love ball pits!

Why It’s Bad:

It is a little known fact that the definition of “ball pit” still has not been generally agreed upon by many linguists. In the vernacular, a “ball pit” suggests a fun place for kids to play under a mountain of soft plastic balls. In this case, however, the definition of “ball pit” is limited to 25 balls in an inflatable kiddie pool the size of a toilet bowl.


6. Disney Fairies Water Dispenser

From The Description:

Your child will be excited every time she gets a glass of water, juice, or other liquid with this fun Disney Fairies Water Dispenser. Whether exhausted from running around or just hanging around the house, your child can get a drink anytime!

Why It Sounds Good:

A hydrated child is a healthy child.

Why It’s Bad:

Drip Drip. “Olivia? What are you doing?” “Oh nothing, just emptying my water dispenser onto the floor.”


5. Child’s tassel t-shirt
From The Description:
Actually, the store presents it as is, allowing the parent to decide why it’s good.

Why It Sounds Good:
Everyone has things that need tassels – even babies, apparently.

Why It’s Bad:
Everyone has nipples but not every nipple need a tassel  – especially baby nipples. Good thing it costs $600.



4. Cast & Create Car Kit
From The Description:
This toy is apparently so abhorrent that it is not longer for sale. However, my son just got one for his birthday. Basically it lets you make plaster casts of cars.

Why It Sounds Good:
You can make your own cars with working wheels! What fun!

Why It’s Bad:
The kit includes three odd molds and a bag of plaster of Paris. That’s about it. The wheels are made of wood and look nothing like the picture and the stickers fall off of the painted surface. The molds are too big for the wheels. It’s a big box of sadness for parents and kids alike.



3. Video Girl Barbie
From The Description:

Lights, Barbie, action! The Barbie Video Girl Doll is not just a doll, she’s a video camera, too. A real video camera inside Barbie features a camera lens hidden in her necklace that records movies.

Why It Sounds Good:
Barbie lets you shoot footage from a Barbie’s-eye-view of the world. Make movies! Be a budding Scorsese!

Why It’s Bad:
As many have pointed out, the suggestion that this Barbie is fun for kids and it’s fun for adults who want to spy on each other. It’s just a little bit creepy, right? Maybe leave the camcorders in the camera bag and pick up a Computer Engineer Barbie instead?


2. Sing A Ma Jigs
From The Description:

Your kids won’t be able to resist the Sing-A-Ma-Jig, a whimsical and unique creature that loves to sing in its own jibber-jabber language.

Why It Sounds Good:
This crazy family of little dolls will scream wildly in a made-up language when you squeeze their bellies, just like your own kids!

Why It’s Bad:
Shouldn’t families sing together instead of hiring tiny little toys to do it for them? These horrible little squeakers cry wildly in harmony when you squeeze them, which suggests they are in pain. Their mouths move and meaningless syllables howl out into the void. Do you really want to expose your kids to that? Do you?


1. Kid-Sized Vuvuzela
From The Description:

Pricing will be discounted for resellers and bulk purchases.

Why It Sounds Good:
It doesn’t. Also, kids will use them as swords.



Keep your eye on some real presents in our 2010 Gadget Gift Guide
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