The Toy Gods (otherwise known as the Toy Industry Association, just announced the finalists for its annual Toy Of The Year Award (otherwise known as the Nerd Oscars … just kidding. No one calls it that). And, while TOTY deserves credit for keeping you in mind with entries like the Chocolate Pen — a toy that actually makes something for you to eat — and the Virtual Reality View-Master — which applies cutting edge tech to your love of nostalgia — the organization also deserves some grief for propagating gender stereotypes that many parents have already moved past.
Regardless of how you feel about separating toys by gender, would it have killed TOTY to acknowledge with their Boy Toy Of The Year and Girl Toy Of The Year lists that the toy licensing behemoth Star Wars (3 entries on the Boys list, zero on the Girls) knows no gender? Or how about the fact that boys might like cooking and food as much as girls (2 entries on the Girls list, zero on the Boys)?
In a year when Target made big news by redesigning its toy aisles to be gender neutral and that paragon of progressive gender issues — Barbie — features a boy in its latest commercial, TOTY’s by-the-numbers gender breakdown is a bit of a bummer. Fortunately, entries for lists like the Innovative and Educational toys of the year focus on the sort of gender-blind play-based learning most parents hope their kids enjoy, regardless of the color of their t-shirts. With toys that can turn a banana into a keyboard (Makey Makey Classic) or clean up their room (VEX Robotic Arm) up for awards, it begs the question: Does Disney’s Frozen Sing-A-Long Elsa really need a nod from the Academy?