Hello Barbie Wins Dreaded TOADY Award for Worst Toy of the Year

Date of Release: 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Contact: David Monahan (617-896-9397; david@commercialfreechildhood.org)

Hello Barbie Wins Dreaded TOADY Award for Worst Toy of the Year
BOSTON—December 8— Appalled at the invasion of children’s privacy, members of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood overwhelmingly selected Hello Barbie, Mattel’s Wi-Fi enabled talking and eavesdropping doll, as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year. Hello Barbie records children's private conversations and transmits them to cloud servers, where they are analyzed by algorithms, listened to by employees of Mattel's partner ToyTalk, and shared with unnamed third parties. The doll's responses are then tailored to reflect the child's family, experiences, and likes and dislikes. 

"In a year full of jaw-droppingly bad toys, Hello Barbie deserves the TOADY as worst of the worst,” said CCFC's Executive Director Josh Golin. "It’s the perfect storm of a terrible toy, and threatens children's privacy, wellbeing, and creativity."

CCFC had nominated a full slate of awful toys for this year’s ballot, and Hello Barbie won in a landslide, receiving more votes than the other five nominees combined. The final results were:

  1. Hello Barbie, 57% of votes
  2. Brands We Know book series, 14.5%
  3. Bratz #Selfie Stick with Doll, 13.6%
  4. Nerf Rebelle Charmed Dauntless Blaster, 8.6%
  5. Sky Viper Video Drone by Skyrocket Toys 3.8%
  6. Tube Heroes Collector Pack, 2.2%

 

Caren DeJonge-Lee of Franklin, Massachusetts, explained why she voted for Hello Barbie as the year’s worst toy: "A company putting out a toy that spies on little girls playing with their dolls in private, and then sending them personalized messages based on that private play, is not only creepy but should be illegal.” Kaylan Crowther of San Antonio, Texas, said, “Just when you thought Barbie couldn't get any worse...she does.”

The blatant commercialism of the runner-up Brands We Know book series—glowing portraits of corporations like Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonald’s, and Nike presented as non-fiction for kids—struck a negative chord with many voters. “These marketing ploys disguised as books shamefully exploit a child's inability to distinguish between reading material and advertising,” commented Robin Meltzer of Silver Spring, Maryland. “Using books to deceive and exploit children is so sad. Reading should be fun, educational, imaginative. What a terrible misuse of the printed page!”

But in the end, Hello Barbie blew away the competition. Last spring, nearly 45,000 people signed petitions in response to a CCFC campaign urging Mattel not to release Hello Barbie. In November, CCFC launched its #HellNoBarbie campaign, consulting with experts in child development, psychology, information technology, and privacy to compile "Eight Reasons to Leave Hello Barbie on the Shelf." Concerns include children confiding in the doll without understanding that their words will be heard by others; the potential misuse of recordings of these private conversations; and that play guided and scripted by corporations will undermine creative play. Recent news reports say hackers have already infiltrated Hello Barbie, and have also accessed sensitive information held by VTech that was obtained through similar high-tech toys. 

The TOADY Awards were created in response to the Toy Industry Association of America’s annual TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards. Last year the BabyFirst U-verse app by AT&T won the dreaded TOADY. Other past winners include the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie (2009), Nickelodeon's AddictingGames.com (2010), the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet (2011), the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Monkey (2012), and the iPotty (2013).

 

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