For many, Girl Scout cookie time is the most magical time of the year — the boxes come a’tumbling off the cookie wagon, bringing mouthfuls of sugary joy for as long as they last in the hands of greedy customers, and all is well… at least for a little while. But what if you could make your own Girl Scout cookies at home, no matter the season?
The days of grainy, hard to decipher photos that came with Mattel’s View-Master are apparently behind us. The company, along with Google, revealed an overhaul that transforms the classic kids’ toy into a virtual reality gadget. [More]
Do you know who I feel sorry for this week? The people running social media for Hasbro’s Play-Doh brand of perpetual play clay. People keep posting to point out the resemblance of an accessory in one of their current play sets to a human phallus, and Hasbro keeps taking down their posts. Update: Hasbro has acknowledged the issue on Facebook and will send a replacement extruder to families on request. [More]
News stories about “layaway angels,” people who stop by a retailer’s layaway counter and pay off the balances of strangers, became very popular during the holiday season of 2011. They’ve since become a recurring tradition, and this year we have mostly heard about people spending five-figure amounts to pay off everyone’s balance in a show of generosity. [More]
Are pricing algorithms racist? That’s not really possible, and several big retailers are blaming “pricing errors” for discrepancies in the prices of Barbie dolls of different ethnicities. Shoppers interested in a doll in a figure-skating costume, for example, have to pay $1.99 extra at Walmart for a doll with darker skin and black hair. How does that happen? [More]
A year after the combination potty/iPad stand took home an award for Worst Toy of the Year, an app from BabyFirst and AT&T U-Verse that your youngsters could use while pottying on last year’s winner has been crowned the worst for 2014. [More]
After ruling supreme as the most popular toy for girls during the holidays, Barbie is losing her crown for the first time ever to the plucky gang from the movie Frozen. You know, the one with that snowman and the hilarious reindeer? Also there’s an ice queen and a princess.
Tesco is a supermarket/superstore based in the United Kingdom. They sell just about everything, including toys. However, one member of the toy-buying public was not thrilled with their holiday marketing. A 7-year-old girl noticed a “Fun gifts for boys” sign on a photo of an alarm clock featuring Marvel superheroes. Wait a minute: she likes superheroes. Why is that only a gift for boys? [More]
LEGO is one toy that is, in theory, gender-neutral. They’re just blocks, decals, and figurines. Yet toys today tend to be highly gender-segregated, even when they’re items that don’t necessarily have to be. Usually, we don’t think of the past as more enlightened, but in the case of LEGO, it’s striking how different their marketing in the ’70s was compared to today. [More]
Many readers will recognize the product at the top of this page: It’s Puppy Surprise, a toy originally introduced in 1991. The gimmick: inside you will find three, four, or five puppies with different markings and personalities. Puppy Surprise came back on the market this fall, and has been so popular that the company had to pull its ads off TV. [More]
Earlier today, we wondered why the communications people over at Mattel hadn’t answered any questions about a book starring Barbie as a computer engineer. Barbie’s “engineering” job consisted of designing puppies while having male colleagues code the game and reboot her computer. This isn’t just sexist, but an inaccurate representation of what computer engineers do. Good news: Steven and Brian managed to get the virus off PR Barbie’s computer, and the book’s author has spoken up as well. UPDATE: Amazon also appears to have pulled the e-book version of this title. [More]
Like it or not, holiday shopping season is upon us. That means it’s time for sales, decorations, crowds, stress, and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s annual list of the year’s worst toys. [More]
Are you looking forward to spending Thanksgiving Day standing in line and fighting with fellow shoppers over the last remote-controlled dinosaur? No? It doesn’t really matter whether you plan to show up or not: opening at 5 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day worked out for Toys ‘R’ Us last year, and they’re planning to do the same again this year. [More]
There were no buttons to tap, screens to swipe or badges to be won. But although kids today might not recognize something as humble as bubbles, a little green army man or a colorful puzzle called the Rubik’s Cube as sources of fun, those three classic toys have found a spot in the annals of entertainment history, as the 2014 inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
We’ve been cataloging the spread of Christmas Creep, the debut of Christmas merchandise and decorations earlier in the season, for some years now, but it’s important to remember that aggressive Christmas marketing before Thanksgiving and even before Halloween is not a new phenomenon. Don’t believe us? Let’s take a trip back in time to 1989, when video game consoles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, and Transformers ruled the line drawings of the Kay-Bee Toys ad. Wait, this is really 25 years old? [More]
With John Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) as its creator and President Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home as inspiration, Lincoln Logs are about as American as they come. It’s fitting, then, that the toy will once again be made in the United States after a stint in China.
Walmart started a new holiday tradition last year. It starts in the summer: the company invites a test panel of 1,000 children of all ages to play with a variety of toys, then rate how fun they are. About a quarter of the toys make the chain’s annual list of the 20 hottest toys, which Walmart then stocks up on, and Walmart shoppers might pick up after their Black Friday towel-grabbing frenzy. Maybe. [More]