Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hottest Christmas toy on the market? How about a doll that takes a crap!

I really do not know what to say about this Washington Post story:

So long, Betsy Wetsy. Baby dolls just got a whole lot more real.

Put her on her little pink plastic toilet. Press the purple bracelet on Baby Alive Learns to Potty. "Sniff sniff," she chirps in a singsong voice. "I made a stinky!"

This season's animatronic Baby Alive -- which retails for $59.99 -- comes with special "green beans" and "bananas" that, once fed to the doll, actually, well, come out the other end. "Be careful," reads the doll's promotional literature, "just like real life, sometimes she can hold it until she gets to the 'potty' and sometimes she can't!" (A warning on the back of the box reads: "May stain some surfaces.")

The mess made by the $39.95 Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Gotta Go Doll, ("Over 60 phrases and fun sounds!") is more hypothetical. Once she is placed on her little toilet, a magnet triggers a presto, change-o in the plastic bowl: "The 'water' in the toilet disappears, with the expected 'potty waste' appearing in its place," says manufacturer Mattel. "Your child can then flush the toilet. The 'water' will reappear, while the toilet makes a very realistic flushing sound!" And then comes the applause.

The dolls, which are being heavily advertised on television, are expected to be the season's big sellers. Since the dolls were introduced to stores this fall, managers at Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us have reported trouble keeping them in stock. And Baby Alive, listed as one of the Hot Toys of 2008 by, was sold out at Wal-Mart, and the AOL shopping site a week before Christmas.

But not everyone thinks dolls need to be this real. Some things, they argue, are better left to the imagination. This battle over whether pooping dolls are an appropriate toy is only the latest skirmish in a long war between child development experts and toymakers. Psychologists say the best toys encourage children to pretend and use make-believe (witness the fact that children often love the boxes their expensive toys come in more than the toy itself). But toymakers want to use the latest technology to make and sell ever-more realistic toys. (Baby Alive's movements are the result of sophisticated robotics controlled by the same kind of microprocessor that navigates satellites and runs nuclear power plants.)

"Retailers have bought heavily into these dolls," said Reyne Rice, trend specialist with the Toy Industry Association. "They feel that these are some of the more popular items for girls this year." Although most baby dolls are sold in the last six weeks of the year and firm sales figures won't be available until early next year, Rice said indicators look good for big Christmas sales.

A doll that takes a crap, and shows kids the wonders of potty training. Do children really want these type of dolls that show the wonders of human excrement? The WaPost story calls these dolls best-sellers, and I'm sure that the kids are anxious to have the latest toys that are heavily advertised on TV by the toy-makers as the hottest toys. My niece wanted the Hokey Pokey Elmo, for Christmas, two years ago. Santa gave her Hokey Pokey Elmo. She played with it Christmas morning, and maybe a couple of days after that, but then almost completely ignored the toy after that. She got into other toys, like My Little Pony, and Littlest Pet Shop. I think she still has the Elmo doll sitting in her closet. Looking at this Baby Alive doll, I believe it will end up in the back of the closet, along with the Hokey Pokey Elmo doll, as a $60 doll that will be played with once on Christmas morning, and then forever trashed. Then again, the marketers have found a way to cash in by hyping up this outrageous, pooping, toy, and heavily advertise it on the cartoon shows so that children could pester their parents on purchasing this "crappy" toy. It is just incredible.

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