Fisher Price - can your toys suck any more?

I have entered the phase where my child is finally old enough to start really playing with toys. Hooray for playing babies and being able to interact!

We try our very best to limit the amount of toys and their quality…but…

While most of her toys fall in the ‘classic’ realm (no batteries! Yeah!), she has three sets of grandparents, so you can imagine that toys are pretty plentiful around here.
Grandparents buy a lot of Fisher Price stuff, mainly because they bought it for us when we were children.

It seems to me that their baby stuff is pretty well made and actually good, interesting stuff.

Bounce-a-roo, I am giving you mad props for being a life saver! When I needed a shower, it’s you who I could count on.

It’s their toddler toys that suck major ass.

Here is a random sampling of their ‘toys’

‘touch and go’ buddy:
Holy Shit, could it weigh more? This thing weighs almost a pound and a half! She picked it up the other day and nearly knocked me out with it, no lie! This will NOT be a toy I will donate when she outgrows it because I genuinely think some kid would hurt himself on it. That and the fact that, oh yeah, the motor is sounding broken after ONE WEEK.

Cute concept - peek-a-boo blocks. Introduce a ton of them to get kids started early on the mantra of 'gotta have them all". Thank goodness mine isn’t old enough to do that (yet!). I buy this incrediblock thing to store the blocks and because it looks like a fun toy. HAHAHA. It would be a fun toy if the motor was quieter. The thing is so loud you can barely hear the music. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR is not my idea of fun, nor is it hers.

Gobble and Go Hippo:
It’s supposed to gobble up the peek-a-boo blocks. It doesn’t. It doesn’t even remotely do that.

This ball thing where you put the balls on top and they ‘spin’ down to the bottom:
yeah, pretty fun, if you like that the tracks don’t align well! This also sucks in that (though no fault of Fisher Price) 2 of the balls are already lost. It’s a small house! Where on earth could they have gone?!

My mom saved all of our FP toys and truthfully, those are in better shape than the new ones!

My plan was to save her ‘most cherished toys’ to give to her when she had children and to donate the rest.

My daughter is not at all destructive and we take really good care of them, but I am saddened that by the time they are to be donated, they will be in bad shape. I called FP to let them know what I thought and they basically made it sound like it was user error (although going on, one can see reviews that agree with me).

Alas. Another fun memory of my youth, ruined.

Yep Yep Yep Yep!!!

Couldn’t agree more. New toys mostly suck. I wanted to find a little drum for my 8-month-old daughter, who likes to pound things. Hah! All of the drums for babies are totally obnoxious. They light up and make noises completely unrelated to drumming, to the point where there’s no relationship between whacking the thing and the sound that comes out. “Educational” my ass.

Luckily we’ve got a terrific thrift store in my neighborhood, so I’ve loaded up on a bunch of the classics. It’s the one time I’ve been glad that plastic is indestructable - seems like these toys have been circulating through these suburbs for decades!

You can find good stuff on eBay sometimes, too.

I did come up with one idea on my own - I’m saving the boxes their diapers and wipes come in (the bulk type from Costco) and we’ll be turning those into construction blocks one of these days! Should be able to build a terrific fort with the things. Cover 'em with Kraft paper & they can paint them, too.

We’re doing this with orange juice cartons…one of those long rectangular sheets of construction paper covers them perfectly!

We should get together and build a massive village. :wink:

I’m sitting here nodding. Absolutely.

When I stroll through Wal-Mart’s toy department on the way to the back of the store, I see toddler toys that are barely recognizable as toys. Some of 'em look like you need a degree from MIT to run them. Bells and whistles out the wazoo. And where’s the creativity involved in playing with them? Some of those toys, it’s like they only do one thing, ya know? You push the button, or whatever, and it does its thing–and that’s it. Then you push the button again, and it does its thing again.

Then you push the button.
And you push the button.
And you push the button.
And you take it out in the sandbox to see if it does anything different out there.

And it doesn’t.
So you leave it out there.

And it hasn’t been that long since my kids were “into” Fisher Price, but in the last 10 years, it seems like the toy sets have just gotten more and more elaborate. Well, it’s like dog food–they’re marketing to the owner’s taste, not the dog’s taste. And here they’re marketing to what Mommy and Daddy think would be cool.

But there are good basic toddler toys out there, you just gotta look. The best place to look is on the upper shelves, out of a kid’s reach, and on the bottom-most shelves, down by the floor. That’s where the store hides the boring basics. All the battery-operated gee-whiz glitz is at Mommy’s eye level.

I am a BIG believer in Duplos. Buy as many Duplos sets as your budget can stand, honey. They’re well worth it. And Legos later, when Baby is old enough to understand not to put them in her mouth (about four is the traditional age for Legos).

Doll dishes, and the amazing state-of-the-art plastic play food, is wonderful, too. And you don’t need a fully equipped play kitchen, either. My kids made do with the coffee table and cardboard boxes.

It may not be Fisher Price’s fault that the balls got lost, but they could easily alleviate the problem by offering replacement balls. There are a bunch of toys that use the same size plastic ball. They could sell just the balls, but they don’t. I’d gladly pay 10 bucks for a big bag of those damned squirrelly little buggers…

I give you…

Potty Elmo.

Aaron got one of these from my mother. I am now genuinely afraid.


Oh, man, do I hear you. I hate all things electronic! Spent a weekend at my friend’s house; she has one of those toy-buying moms, and the house is full of toy noise. Argh! Especially the rock-n-roll Elmo.

My recommendations: Hearthsong, Magic Cabin (for you yuppies out there–they don’t photograph, they color-pencil the toys!), and Back to Basics Toys. Give these catalogs to your rich in-laws! We don’t get many things from them, but we love what we’ve gotten. Last Xmas DangerGirl got a set of colored scarves and it’s been great.

I try not to buy a lot, but we’re still full up with toys. We have an awful lot of indulgent relatives, but luckily they’re not rich enough to buy more than one thing each!

From your link…


Oh please Robin, you must post the lyrics to the “Next time, I’ll make the potty” song!

Also…do I want to know where the liquid comes out? Anatomically correct Elmo? :eek: :eek:

Man, I agree, and I don’t even have kids.

So many of the toys I see on the shelves these days don’t even resemble what I played with when I was a kid. It’s all made so the kid breaks it or gets bored with it or it runs out of power or the non-replaceable bits go missing or things get all bent and useless and then you have to buy more.

Take that potty Elmo for example. Squeeze his hand and he says something. Do this and Elmo does that. Guess what? When I was a kid my dolls said anything I wanted them to, and I didn’t have to push anything or put in any batteries. They had all the furniture they needed because you can always get more kleenex boxes. That’s what imaginations are for.

Even Legos are not completely immune to this. My Legos didn’t light up or make noise or look like people from Big Hit Movies, it was just a bunch of regular bricks and some flat pieces and four Lego people. I played with that for Gods only know how many hours at a time.

I keep seeing ads for those Leap Pad electronic book thingums. Look, your kid will learn to read! Look, your kid can record him/herself saying a word, and then they can press the right button and it’s played back! Look, all these buttons in the book make different noises! Jeez, what the hell ever happened to actual living breathing people reading books with their kids? That’s all the sound effects and funny voices you’ll ever need. And buying a stack of Dr. Seuss is probably cheaper than buying a stack of Leap Pad book refills or whatever they call them. (And, as someone who has worked in the Kids section in a major bookstore, let me tell you there’s a very special place in Hell for whoever decided that kids’ books should make noise.)

I gotta admit though, I saw something advertised last Christmas that I thought was pretty neat. It was a kid-height plastic table with slots in the legs to keep Play-Doh containers in, and it came with Play-Doh tool type things and it had a built-in scraper that cleaned the top of the table. Now that’s something I wouldn’t mind buying – except given the recent track record with toys, I wonder if it breaks easily.

Hmm. I think I should fold up this soapbox and store it somewhere in case I ever have kids. They prolly won’t be making soapboxes this well then.

Actually, they do. But they don’t make it easy or obvious. First of all, Fisher-Price is a division of Mattel. So go here to order replacement parts, including just the balls. If the toy that Bad News Babboon is describing is the “Baby Playzone™ Stand-Up Ball Blast™” they sell a bag of 8 balls for $4.98 – it is part number 3800-6994 and she (or you) can either order it online or try calling the phone support line at 1-800-432-5437 to see if they will sell it over the phone.

Most toy and game manufacturers do this nowadays. They just aren’t very good at making it easy.

Actually, that link may not work. If not, try this one.

And you can buy all kinds of pieces in bulk from the Lego Shop-at-home website. If only that had been around when I was a kid…

For that matter, there’s the unending appeal of popsicle sticks and the things you can build from them. Now if I’d known that you could get popsicle sticks in packs of 200, but that they were called ‘coffee stirrers’ or something similar, my young life of begging my parents to buy popsicles so I could have the sticks would have been different…

Or even good old real life Lego Shops. Which rule, and have lots of fun lego. Including sparkly pink Lego.


My thoughts exactly. Lego should not be sparkly pink.

I gave my 10 year old son his birthday present this past weekend. We got him one of these*. While it is a REALLY cool bike and he loves it, it is very different from riding a normal bike. The front wheel being “chopped” out means it turns very sharp. He has fallen a few times and even broke down crying when it got it’s first scratch in the paint. He is getting the hang of it now, though.

Now the problem I have isn’t really with the manufacturer. It seems like a damn good product. But those fuckers at Wal-Mart can’t build anything. We went to the store looking for one that was still in the box so that we could build the thing together. Well, Wal-Mart and Target don’t sell them still in the box. The first thing they do when they get Bikes in is to build them (as poorly as possible) and put them on display, with a sign that reads “Free Assembly”. When we got it home and he tried to ride it the first time, the god damn brake fell off. I mean the whole damn rear brake (it only has a rear brake) fell off. So, I would recommend that anyone who buys a bike from Wal-Mart be sure to thoroughly check the torque on all screws and nuts.

I know, I know. This should be pretty obvious, but he was just sitting on it and pushing it around the driveway to get the feel of it when the brake fell off. I would hate to think what would happen if someone just let thier kid take off on the bike down the street, trusting the assemblers at the store to have done a good job.

Actually, my four-year-old has the Fisher Price Power Touch, which is very much like the Leap Pad. I do read her books (three at bedtime, and sometimes other times during the day, depending on when she requests it); but man, those things are great for long car trips!

Can I jump on the Lego Bitch Bandwagon? Not only is there little imagination in New Lego (each set comes with an instruction book to build the Star Destroyer and maybe three variations of it) but the specialized pieces drive me nuts! The cool thing with our old Lego sets was the WOW factor when you realized you could approximate round shapes with rectangular blocks. Educational? Try two two-spots equal a four-spot equals four one-spot little guys that your brother tried to swallow. (“No Mom, I hate fractions, I wanna play with my Legos!” :stuck_out_tongue: ) Plus, storage these days is impossible! If I dump them all in one bin like I used to, he can’t find his specialized piece when he wants to rebuild the Star Destroyer, and NO OTHER PIECE WILL WORK!

I swear, with this next baby, all toys will be taken back and the money put in the bank. Three mixing bowls, a wooden spoon and a set of blocks will cover us, thanks.

Oh, and Fisher Price is crap nowadays. I wonder if they were bought out by MTV and no one told us; hyperstimulation with no substance, anyone?

I was about to say…what happened to plain old wooden blocks. I loved those things when I was a tyke - and no little pieces that can be swallowed. I used to build skyscrapers taller than me. And then knock them down once I showed it to everyone and received the requisite praise.

What the hell is that? Sounds like a Michael Jackson doll!