From: Patrick Crispen
Subject: TOURBUS - 07 Dec 2006 - T.O.Y Awards
Howdy, y'all, and happy December from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, named after the French capital in memory of Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.
Today's post is a completely updated version of a post I've sent out every year for the past five years. Hopefully, the links in today's post will save you some time and money this holiday season. On with the show...
When I was kid, I really wanted a green "Stretch Monster" toy [see http://tinyurl.com/6zyve ]. 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 1970s. 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 480 brand new toys from 146 manufacturers, dropped the toys in front of more than 100 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 480 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 15 different KinderCare facilities around the United States where 1,200 children spent a combined total of 30,834 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 surviving toys were donated to local charities.
Long story short: The toys on the 2006 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 full URL is http://familyfun.go.com/parties/holiday- seasonal/specialfeature/famf0906-toy-main/ ]
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. Click on the appropriate age group on the left side of the page to see a list of the top three toys by category for that age group. 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 the name of any of the award-winning toys and you are taken to a page that shows you
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.
A quick note before we wrap up for now - the DollsAndFriends store is run by Kathy and Leo Notenboom, good friends of the TOURBUS. Stop in and tell 'em the Bus brought you by!
That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon.