It all started when I was wrapping gifts. As a gag, I picked up one of those bath time shaving kits normally given to small child but intended for my 12 year old son who has taken to inspecting his upper lip daily for any signs of manhood. So, in the hurry of my Christmas shopping, I picked one up off the discount shelf.
Before wrapping, I showed it to my partner saying, “what a funny gag this will be.” He replied, “Who is that for?" He told me to read the box and left it at that. I read aloud, “Sponge Bob Bikini Bottom Groom & Go Kit.” My mind must have been a bit numb from shopping and wrapping but, emerging from my holiday haze, I finally realized the joke was on me.
Bikini Bottom is, after all, where Sponge Bob resides but in the context it hints at something else. I laughed for a moment at my own obliviousness, then, I thought, what else is under my Christmas tree?
So, I started looking not only at the toys I had purchased but those that are trending this holiday season. Some are mere marketing failures, others are just plain WRONG.
The Toy Retailers Association, TRA, included in its list of the hottest toys for 2011 Doggie Doo, a game where your children can feed a plastic dog playdoh and after a few rolls of the dice, Fiddo produces a dookie. Kids win after scooping 3 poops. I am sure there is a logic here I am failing to recognize. Maybe it is some sort of game geared towards teaching responsibility for pets but, I actually saw the commercial on TV and thought it was from an SNL skit. Nope, it is in stores now.
According to the Toys ‘R Us site, their number one selling toy for boys is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the X-box 360. Incidentally, the Sony PS3 version is the third best selling toy also. The ever popular Legos, Match Box cars and Nerf guns, which now shoot darts and disks, are also on the list. It says something that some of the most popular toys for boys are those which model aggression and violence.
These are the toys boys want though. Even if you are not the parent supplying these toys, their friends have them already and are playing with them.
Even so, I thought to myself, “I am glad I have all boys,” because once I turned the corner and saw the toys marketed for girls, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the costume jewelry, princess gowns and play make-up that emulate the Toddler’s in Tiaras.
Bratz Dolls have made the TRA list of hottest toys as well as the Toys ‘R Us list of most popular toys. The over sexualized Bratz Dolls with their big pouty lips, alluring eyes and leather bondage garb are far from the antiquated models of domesticity I played with as a child. Where’s the Easy Bake Oven and Day to Night Barbie that seemed to have the working mom motif down to a science?
If the premise of toys is to role model adult behaviors, what are these must have toys teaching our children?
My intention in giving my son the gag shaving gift was to provide a subtle reminder that he’s not all grown up just yet. It seems that even that intention has gone awry.
While there are many toys that have positive messages and activities for children, these are just some that might be too hot for Santa’s Sleigh and better left to die on the clearance shelf.