12 Toys To Avoid
For 2002 - 2003
Army Forward Command Post,
Ever Sparkle Industrial Toys
Description: This dollhouse
looks like a home that has been hit by a bomb: there are holes in the roof, one
wall is demolished, bullets are scattered on the floor, and the porch railings
Why we chose it:
This playhouse, marketed as appropriate for children five and up, trivializes
the harsh reality of war. The house comes with dozens of accessories,
including a machine gun, rocket launcher, magazine belt and explosives. This
bombed-out version of Barbies Dream House is sure to excite bloodthirsty
passions in even the most passive of preschoolers, wrote one Amazon reviewer.
Unfortunately, the set does not come with charred infant or mangled toddler
This dollhouse, with minor variations, is carried by several
major retailers, including KB Toys, JCPenney and in Toys R Us stores. Toys R Us
told Lion & Lamb that the Command Post is still available in stores, although it
is now off the Amazon.com web site (the online retailer for Toys R Us). JCPenney
has also removed this toy from its web site, but is not returning phone calls
regarding whether the toy can still be ordered from the catalogue. We are
providing e-mail links here for those who want to contact the companies and
voice their concerns about this toy.
Star Blaster Set,
Description: A Battle
Blaster, an extendable sword and a voice changer.
Why we chose it: The Battle
Blaster-batteries included so children can test it out at the store-makes
machine gun sounds as a loud voice yells, Fire! Fire! While the gun itself
does not look realistic, it may send a confusing message to kindergarteners:
guns are fun to play with.
Zoids, Gun Sniper,
Recommended Age: 4+
A posable action figure of a creature called
Sniper, wielding a gun in each hand.
Why we chose it:
This toy takes the dinosaur
concept and gratuitously adds a sniper element. The Gun Sniper includes
missile-launching side cannons! The packaging promotes other Zoids, which
children can customize for battle! They include the Liger Zero with a Hel
Digunner cannon and Raynos, with turret and launching cannons. The Zoids line
melds two traditional toy categories-construction toys and animals - and adds
violent themes, which are then marketed to pre-schoolers.
toy version of paint ball, which fires up to 40 feet.
Why we chose it: This game encourages
eight-year-olds to shoot their friends, and the paint shows them how successful
they have been. The instructions with this toy warn children not to shoot
anyone in the face or eyes, but second-graders cannot always be relied upon to
follow such cautions-especially at distances of up to 40 feet.
Nerf Blastin Zurg
from Toy Story,
Hasbro and Disney/Pixar
A brightly-colored action figure for pre-schoolers
that shoots Nerf laser darts.
Why we chose it:
This action figure, which
appears rather innocuous and is based on a character from a popular movie for
young children, does only one thing: shoot darts from a triple-barreled toy gun.
Prepare to meet your DOOM! reads a strip on the back of the box. Take that!!
the Zurg continues as he blasts away at Buzz Lightyear, who deflects the darts.
ARRGGH!! screams Zurg as a dart bounces back and hits him in the chest. This
toy, while seemingly innocent, gives a distorted message to very young children.
It takes cartoon violence off the screen and puts it into childrens playrooms.
Recommended Age: 4+
Description: A fantasy constructible
action figure that children can build themselves. One of a series of action
figures whose body parts are interchangeable.
Why we chose it: The Lego brand has
long been a leader in creating quality, open-ended construction toys. But
starting with the Star Wars figures, continuing with Bionicles, and now
with the Galidor line, Lego is moving away from its traditional base and toward
the action figure category. While the Galidor action figures are not nearly as
violent as many others, children may still use them for fantasy fighting. With a
video game and TV program tied to Galidor, it is clearly more a marketing
opportunity for Lego than a toy for children.
VIDEOGAMES FOR CHILDREN
Burnout 2: Point of Impact,
Acclaim for the PlayStation 2
Recommended Age: E for Everyone
with a Mild Violence descriptor
Description: An extreme racing game
highlighting street races and spectacular crashes.
Why we chose it: A Game
Informer ad for this game-rated as appropriate for children ages six and
up-shows a mans head crashing through a windshield, with glass flying around
him. The last thing to go through your mind will be your ass, the ad promises.
Racing games are not generally violent, but this one breaks the mold. Best car
crashes on the planet ... big, violent and damaging, according to one review
touted in the ad. The best part is seeing the result of each crash: the
crunched metal, the totaled vehicles
notes a review in gamezone.com.
Eidos Interactive for the Playstation 2
Recommended Age: T for Teen, with a
Description: A first-person shooter
game rated as appropriate for teens. Reviewers compare it favorably to
ultra-violent Mature-rated games such as Halo, Perfect Dark and Quake.
Why we chose it: Most parents
would assume that a first-person shooter game such as this-where the player sees
a gun or other weapon at the bottom of the screen at all times, as though he is
carrying it in his hand-would be rated Mature. But for unexplained reasons, the
industry ratings board has given a Teen rating to several of these games.
Point. Aim. Shoot, reads the xbox.ign.com review of Timesplitters 2.
The gamespy.com review notes that there are the occasional orgies of
random violence, but thankfully, there is usually some sort of heavy weapon
nearby to facilitate the quick disposal of your opponents.
James Bond 007: Nightfire,
Electronic Arts for the Nintendo GameCube and PC
Recommended Age: T for Teen, with
Violence and Suggestive Themes descriptors
Why we chose it:
This first-person shooter game is based on the
ever-edgier James Bond franchise. Todays Bond packs many more weapons and kills
many more people than the Bond most parents grew up with: call it extreme
Bond. From the gamers.com review: Naturally Bond will be packing his
standard Walther pistol, but hell have a lot more weapons at his disposal.
various rifles, a grenade launcher, and a four-tube missile
launcher. Each weapon also has an alternate fire, such as a silencer for the
pistol, a scope for the rifle, and a three-round burst for the submachine gun.
Of the three console systems, Nintendo used to be the most child-friendly:
parents should be aware that Nintendo is now pursuing an adult audience, and
producing ever-edgier titles.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,
Take Two Interactive for the Playstation 2
Recommended Age: M for Mature with
Blood and Gore, Violence, Strong Language, and Strong Sexual Content descriptors
Description: The sequel to Grand
Theft Auto III (the best-selling game of 2002), Vice City allows players to
hijack police cars, gun down pedestrians, kill policemen, pick up prostitutes in
order to get health points
and then kill the prostitutes in order to get
their money back.
Why we chose it: Even though this
game is rated M for Mature, it has been touted as the best game of 2002 for the
freedom it offers players. As a result, middle and high school students have
been flocking to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, as well as other Mature-rated
products. Neither the video game nor retail industries enforce the voluntary
ratings system, which means that teens can easily buy and rent Mature-rated
titles. Even retailers with policies that restrict the sale of Mature-rated
games to children allowed children to purchase Mature-rated video games 73
percent of the time, according to a recent Federal Trade Commission survey.
If you have any suggestions for
toys for our next list,
please contact us here at The Lion & Lamb Project via any
of the methods listed
at the top of the screen - or use our easy online Toy
If you send us a toy
recommendation, please include all the relevant details
of the toy, including those seen above.
If we pick your recommendation
to be included in one of our lists,
you'll receive a free Parent Action Kit!