A Twisted Guide to the Worst Toys of 2011

If you’re planning to purchase toys for some darling children this holiday season, you might want to look elsewhere because my annual list of toys-that-suck is here.

Without further ado, I present the worst toys from Santa’s workshop, where quality control appears to have taken an extended vacation. A 365 day one.

Toys That Assault OUR Senses

These toys are great gifts, for someone else’s kid.

I am T-Pain Mic

It should be called "I Am IN Pain"

This microphone is named after a rapper who’s known for using voice correction . . . you know, so he can sound relatively in tune while he sings/speaks. Now, in this no-child-is-allowed-to-be-mediocre era, your kid can get that illusion that she can sing, even if she sounds like a cat in heat singing the national anthem. Thank you, voice correction software, for convincing a generation that they should sing somewhere other than in the shower.

Rock Star Mickey

Evidently, Mickey's voice wasn't annoying enough, so they added an electric guitar

In previous years, I’ve picked on noisy Elmo and Dora dolls. This year’s take-the-batteries-out award goes to the Rock Star Mickey toy that sings, dances, and does the splits at the end of his routine. It’s American Idol for Disney characters, and it’s the audition round, not the grand finale. Plus, the name of this toy makes me ponder. If you put the words “Rock Star” and “Mickey” together, my mind jumps to the image of a 1980s Steve Tyler guzzling a bottle of rye on a groupie-filled tour bus.


We're already deafening kids, so it's only right we start damaging their senses of smell.

Under the loose category of chemistry, this perfume kit enables your children to mix potions and create a signature scent. It’s science for Snooki. As if parents don’t have enough foreign smells floating around their houses.


For my 2010 list, I deconstructed the Monster High dolls, quite literally pulling them apart limb-by-limb, joint-by-joint in a television interview. The Monster High dolls are still on the market, a massive success in vertical marketing. But there are some new contenders for this year; unfortunately, the skankification of girls does not seem to be going anywhere.

Liv Dolls

On right: Twist & Dance Sophie, if you know what I mean

The company behind this wanted to directly compete with Barbie. So how do you do that? You Bratz-ify the product: put the dolls in bikinis or ripped fishnet stockings. Nothing like taking the high-class-hooker look and making it fashionable for the 6+ age group.

Moxie Teenz (MT) DollS

"Arizona" (named after the red light district in Phoenix?)

Now there's an ironic motto.

Equally skanky are the Moxie Teenz dolls. But what sends these skyrocketing up the masochistic marketing scale is MT’s motto: Be true! Be you! Really? Go ahead, girls, be yourself; just make sure you wear trashy clothes, heavy makeup, and change your hair color frequently.


McDonald’s Fast-food-at-home kit

Because the only thing missing from your child's toy box is McFood.

Play-doh Drill n’ Fill Kit

Because nothing says FUN like going to the dentist.

Doggie Doo GAME

Because you've always wanted a plastic dog that craps.

The Buzz Lightyear Cup

Because...oh, never mind.

Your turn:

What are some presents you remember fondly (or not so fondly) from your childhood?
What other toys should be on this list?
What are you planning to buy the children in your life?


  1. says

    Oh. My. GOD! I wouldn’t have believed these (McFood?!?!) without pictures! Although, confession time, we have the dentist kit. My son wanted to be a dentist for years and this saved us from being his “patients” with his tin foil “tools”… #ouch

  2. says

    There are the triplet baby dolls (at toys r us)that speak baby talk but one of them very clearly (in my opinion) says “crazy bitch.” you can google that one to hear it. Because who doesn’t want to start their day with a dirty mouthed doll? Awesome. I agree to all your choices! My daughter wants two of the things on your list. Thank God she doesn’t know about that perfume deal!

  3. Trish Loye Elliott says

    Where do you find this stuff?! Too funny. Though I can’t laugh too loud. My 5yo wants a Fijit Friend for xmas. Google it… You’ll see my dilemma.

  4. says

    OMG Leanne! I read this at work and almost fell out of my chair laughing. Had to remind those around me it isn’t polite to stare.

    I’m thinking Guitar Mickey could become a session player for Billy Bass and the Furbies.

    • says

      Guitar Mickey can actually play with his nose. I mean “play guitar” with his nose. I kid you not. And he does the “Mickety Splits” (imagine a suit coming up with that pun and presenting it to other suits around a large boardroom table)

  5. says

    Wow, they’ve got some incredibly…. hmm, what’s the word? …interesting toys these days. I agree 100% about the skankification of girls’ dolls. Sad stuff. Thanks for the run-down of toys. I’m so out of the toy world that I haven’t seen any of these. I will definitely avoid them. Like the plague. :)

  6. says

    Hey, I already got that McDonald’s-Fast-Food-At-Home kit for a birthday gift. The little boy I babysit loves to take it to the park and play that he’s at the drive-in window. His other favorite thing is Buzz Lightyear…but maybe I’ll refrain from the Tippy cup. Okay, I get it. I’m a loser and they should start looking for another sitter.

  7. Elena Aitken says

    Awesome list.. And, true to form…we have one of the items (although this year, just one)
    My daughter was the proud recipient of a perfume making kit about a year ago. to make this toy even more painful it requires parental assistance.
    I may have smelled like roses (bad, synthetic roses) for two days afterwards.

  8. says

    Wowza. With 3 boys, I don’t get exposed to the skanky girl stuff, thank goodness, but it’s all about weapons and fighting. If the zombies that come at the apocalypse are vulnerable to Nerf gun darts, y’all can take refuge at our house. We’ve got a Nerf arsenal. Then there’s our lame attempt to steer clear of computer games and videogames as gifts.

    Balance. And breathing.

    Thanks, Leanne!

  9. says

    Thank God my kids are 20 and 22! Things have really changed. I loved my Chatty Cathy and Tiny Tears dolls when I was a little girl and I still have my stuffed dog Fifi!

  10. Margaret says

    Hilarious! The “Doggie Doo” reminds me of when I was a girl and I got a baby doll that “ate” and then relieved itself. I went through that once, decided it was the grossest thing ever, and that I really didn’t want to change a diaper after all! I think the doll stayed in the closet until it developed mould issues and was “euthanized”!

  11. says

    Buzz, is that a lightsaber in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? I see that you really do go to infinity AND beyond.
    No matter what my parents got me at the age range most of those toys are aimed at, i had far more fun playing with the box. One of the best ‘presents’ my parents ever got us was a new refridgerator – that box lasted the ENTIRE summer, and my friends thought my parents were the coolest ever 😛

  12. says

    Uh – oh….we have the dentist kit and now I’m seeing it in a whole new light. But better that he drill holes in playdoh (the drill really does work) than in the wall……..

  13. says

    I fondly remember the days when kids making food thingies were the Easy Bake Oven and the Snoopy’s Doghouse Sno-Kone maker. Ah, well, it’s never too early to turn kids into shallow, fat, materialistic consumers, is it? Great post, and very true.

  14. says

    Oh, wow. Perfumery sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!! As an aunt, one of my biggest gift-giving fails was signing up my niece and nephew for this [appallingly overpriced] ‘craft of the month’ club. The monthly crafts came in a manila envelope and looked like someone tore the pages out of an old coloring book and threw in a couple paper clips for good measure.

  15. says

    i’m a child of the 70’s. and male. nothing was better than NFL electric football. also, i was there when the first PONG games came out. fabulous. i was such a little brat when it came to christmas presents. there was no hiding place good enough for mom to keep anything from me. i can recall finding wrapped christmas presents, unwrapping them, playing with them, and then rewrapping them successfully. one time my mother caught me playing with one of my brother’s christmas presents that she had poorly hidden. i told her that i was just testing it out to make sure that my brother would like it. eventually, she hid out stuff at my grandparents’ home. grrr.

    • says

      You were good. As in a good detective. My best friend used to do that and I’d watch her in awe as she unwrapped her present in front of me (a Generation 1 Sony Walkman…). I didn’t bother peaking; I think I got an organ lamp that year.

  16. says

    Eww. My daughter is getting a ski holiday for Christmas. And some books & clothes. (Mayyyybe some Mega Blocks & toy cars – that girls LOVES toy cars.)

    (Before my daughter was born, our parents were warned that anything Barbie-like given to our daughter as a gift would swiftly makes it’s way to the landfill.)

    Also? WTF is up with the McFood?? WHO buys this stuff?!

    And. Um. Is it kinda bad that I want a Buzz Lightyear cup? For myself? To drink water at work?

    • says

      Ski trip? That’s fab. And books. And cars…

      We’ve never bought a Barbie either, though we’ve been gifted a few. Last year, though, Vivian decided to donate them to the goodwill store, since she never played with them. The Hallelujah Chorus (or Aretha Franklin) played in my head.

  17. Rebecca Stanfel says

    What a list! I am impressed at your finding-hideous-toy skills.

    Here’s what baffles me. Why do kids (OK, particularly MY kid) gravitate toward the worst toys? My niece loves the skanky Bratz-style dolls. Andrew likes anything loud, obnoxious, and tasteless. But, maybe even he would take a pass on plastic dog crap and at-home dental work. I want him to be the kid who prefers Melissa and Doug toys, not of the must-have-the-latest plastic-crap-made-by-Lego. Oh well. I’m trying not to feel too insecure after reading all the comments from other parents who have vanquished the tide of plastic crap that my kid has carried with him.

    Thanks for the long laugh!

    • says

      Kids and bad toys are like moths to flames, aren’t they? Pretty sure my kids would think lighters are a cool toy if I left them around the house…maybe we can leave the fire starters near the crappy toys…

  18. says

    Nothing like snorting coffee before 7!! Too funny, Leanne!
    That cup…oh, my God, so freakin’ funny! Seriously, NO ONE in R&D looked at it and thought, “Hmmm…there’s something not QUITE right about that straw…”

    I want that cup. Never mind my kids….

  19. says

    I love the play-doh drill set. So much. And not just because I used to binge on play-doh as a kid. These toys should almost be on that late ’70s SNL skit “Consumer Probe” that premiered such spendid toys as “Johnny Switchblade doll” and “a bag of glass”.

    Hands down the best/worst Christmas gift I recall is when my grandmother bought my brother a puzzle and his cousins Incredible Hulk blow-up gloves. My brother was clearly let down that he didn’t get the same (duh), so my aunt talked my cousins into giving him one of their gloves. One. So then he had a single inflatable green boxing glove and a puzzle. Pure joy, right there.

  20. says

    Reblogged this on lifeyum and commented:
    If laughter was a drug, then I was really high while reading Leanne Shirtliffe’s “A Twisted Guide to the Worst Toys of 2011.” Brilliant commentary on the absurdity of children’s toys and society today.

  21. Marianne says

    Being married to a dentist, we are given dental toys more than you would think. (especially if you think not at all) My kids took the head apart, filled with water, made mud, and buried them. They actually work really well as sand toys.

  22. says

    I’m dying here! Hilarious recap. You should be a humor writer (as opposed to just a humour writer). Fave parts are “be true, be you,” Plastic dog that craps, and Buzz :-)

  23. says

    My two older kids were all over Buzz when they spotted him an aisle away in Wal-Mart. Then they quickly showed their 7 year old brother and the giggling fixation began.

    A T-Pain Mic? I want to kill him when I’m on my treadmill dropping sweat faster that I can suck air and he’s singing his creepin’ lyrics of “It’s 5 o’clock in the morning.” My kids wouldn’t make it a day with this Mic.

    Thanks for the warning.

  24. says

    I already loathe the Bratz-esque hooker dolls. At least Narbie is a grown ass woman in a catsuit. But Stripper Pole Moxie Ho? Yokes!

    But stripper dolls still make more sense than fun with dental drills. WTF Play Doh FTW.

  25. says

    I already loathe the Bratz-esque hooker dolls. At least Narbie is a grown ass woman in a catsuit. But Stripper Pole Moxie Ho? Yokes!

    But stripper dolls still make more sense than fun with dental drills. WTF Play Doh FTW.

  26. says

    Oh Darling you just made my day! I am SOOOOO buying the Tpain mike for my nephew, who loves the ap…. And it has the added benefit of potentially annoying his parents! Yee ha!

  27. says

    K!! That is CRAzy!!! Skankify our daughters indeed. Very not happy about that. And who in the world placed the Buzz straw?!
    And Doggy Doo?!

  28. anonymous says

    When I was little I was given a truck-load full The Original Plastic Surgery Doll (A.K.A. Barbie) and every single one of them ended up without her head. As for Stripper Dolls (Bratz)… I don’t think they ever left the box.

    Has anyone noticed you have to take off the Brat’s feet to change its shoes? D,,,X

  29. Tia says

    My son saw that cup in a magazine and said that he loves Buzz and he wanted it. I can just see Grandma’s reaction now (oh, and all the teachers at daycare). No way. AND he turned on all the annoying (crazy annoying when twelve of them are “rocking out”) Mickey Dolls at Walmart the other day. I just wanted to run away. What is also crazy making are those Sing-a-ma-jig dolls. My son is into knights, castles and SUPERHEROES. So I feel okay buying him more Hulk and Spiderman guys because Hulk (not yet anyhow) is not rocking out anywhere.

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