From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 01 DEC 2005 - T.O.Y. Awards


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and happy December from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California.

Today's post is a completely updated version of a post we sent out last Thanksgiving. Hopefully, the links in today's post will save you some time and money this holiday season.

Family Fun 2005 T.O.Y. Awards Audience: Everyone who will be buying toys in the next few weeks

When I was kid, I really wanted a green "Stretch Monster" toy [see ]. Or at least I *thought* I wanted a Stretch Monster. Those commercials that aired during Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp on KTUL-TV in Tulsa made Stretch Monster look so COOL. I mean, it was a green monster. And it STRETCHED!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a Stretch Monster for Christmas. Instead, my parents gave me a children's citizens band radio base station. [It was the 1970's. Deal with it.] Terribly disappointed, I ended up trading my CB radio to a friend for his Stretch Monster.

It was possibly the worst trade of my life. The novelty of the Stretch Monster wore off within a day, and he/it was quickly thrown into my toy chest where he/it slowly dripped red ooze over all of my other discarded toys.

If you have the riches of Bill Gates, buying your children toys that lose their appeal within 24 hours is fine. But with normal, non- Gates-ian family budgets stretched to the breaking point, how can you ensure the toys you buy this holiday season are truly great playthings and not just Stretch Monster-esque television hype?

Well, each year Family Fun magazine holds a Toy of the Year (T.O.Y.) competition. This year, the magazine's writers collected 520 brand new toys from 170 different manufacturers, dropped the toys in front of 130 elementary school kids in Kennebunk, Maine, and then seriously reconsidered their career choices. [As a wise man once said, "And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That's *one* thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!"]

Anyway, after destroying as many of the toys as is humanly possible, the kids in Kennebunk narrowed down the field of 520 toys to only 63 finalists, the toys the kids wanted to take home with them. And that's when the fun began. The 63 finalist toys were sent to 17 different KinderCare facilities around the United States where 1,275 children spent a combined total of 30,000 hours of play time hitting each other over the head with assorted Tonka trucks.

At the end of the play testing/pummeling, each child voted privately for their absolute favorite toys. The results were compiled by Digital Research on behalf of Family Fun magazine. Oh, and the KinderCare centers got to keep all of the toys as a thank you.

Long story short: The toys on the 2005 T.O.Y. awards list are literally the best of the best, the toys your kids WILL want to play with well after you take down the holiday decorations. For a complete list of this year's winners, just point your favorite web browser to

The T.O.Y. Awards themselves are pretty self-explanatory, and the layout of the Awards site hasn't changed much since we first visited it back in 2001. There are two dozen award categories that cover both the type of toy and the age group for which that toy was designed. Click on any of the award-winning toys and you are taken to a page that shows you

  • A picture of that particular toy;
  • The toy's manufacturer and suggested US retail price;
  • A one-paragraph description of what makes that toy so cool; and
  • Either a telephone number you can call, or a link you can click,
  • to locate a store in your area that carries that particular toy.

    Neat, huh? Best of all, this year's Awards page also includes a list of this year's best family-friendly video games at

    The reason why Tourbus keeps coming back to the Family Fun magazine T.O.Y. Awards year after year is that it is hands-down the best, most up-to-date toy buying guide around. If you are looking for a toy that your kids will play with long after the holiday season is over, check out Family Fun's toy list before you even THINK about bravely venturing into the eternal nightmare that is a toy store during the holiday shopping season.

    The Next Best Thing

    Linda from Marlinton, West Virginia recently wrote and said "The next best thing to Tourbus is the Smart Computing magazine that you guys recommend. I've been getting it since last summer and it has solved numerous problems for me and my friends." Thanks, Linda!

    We hope other Tourbus riders will discover the Plain English answers to their computing questions that Smart Computing delivers every month. Do you want to speed up your PC? Eliminate the threat of computer viruses? Get rid of spyware and keep hackers out? Try Smart Computing today -- get your FREE TRIAL issue NOW!

    That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon.

    .~~~. )) (\__/) .' ) )) Patrick Douglas Crispen /o o \/ .~ {o_, \ { / , , ) \ `~ -' \ } )) AOL Instant Messenger: Squirrel2K _( ( )_.' ---..{____} Warning: squirrels.

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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