Bothersome toys that kids love
January 3, 2011 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Looking for the perfect (for the kids, not the parents) children's toy.

Last year, my child received what is essentially a musical hair-dryer. It has proven to be endless fun and joy for all the children who come visit, yet never fails to endlessly aggravate their parents.

Now the giver of this magical gift has a child of his own turning one, and I'd like to return the "favour".

* Must be suitable and fun for a one year old. This is the most important.

* Has that all important "oh, god, not that thing again" component for the parents. This could include a particularly ear-wormy song, something that requires the parent to push the same button over and over, you know the drill.

* Preferably available at toys-r-us, target and the like.

* Not super-expensive - $20 is better than $60.

So, metafilter-parents, what toy does your child love, but makes you break out in hives every time they pick it up?
posted by madajb to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nice xylophone?
posted by box at 2:57 PM on January 3, 2011

This recent question was aimed at slightly older children, but might help.
posted by pemberkins at 2:59 PM on January 3, 2011

Oh man. Fridge Phonics. "Every letter makes a sound, B says BUH".

My younger kid is six and our Fridge Phonics set is in a landfill back in California somewhere and I still get that damn song stuck in my head sometimes. That was my kids' JAM back in the day.
posted by padraigin at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

A toy horn. I innocently purchased one for a nephew. I had no idea what I was doing. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I had no idea, none at all. My sister said, "Well what do you expect buying him a horn?!" For the love of god, I had no idea.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Harmonica! The gift of a tiny, drunk Bob Dylan wandering around is the gift that never stops giving.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:04 PM on January 3, 2011 [10 favorites]

I cannot find a link to this thing, but I'm sure you could find it at a Dollar Store or Toys R Us or similar. It's a stick or baton, maybe 12" long, and when the kid shakes it or turns it up and down, I swear to you it sounds like a baby crying.

My friends' kid has this, and it's the single most disconcerting toy I've ever laid ears on.

Alternatively, my dad once gave a kid a bicycle horn - old fashioned, with the trumpet bit and the bulb. Even if the parents remove the bulb, you can be the REALLY BAD FRIEND who teaches the kid how to blow on the trumpet bit to continue to make noise.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:05 PM on January 3, 2011

One more thing, anything with the sound that is motion activated. Kids love them and love to keep activating them. Removing the batteries helps with the littler kids. I eventually hid the thing under a bush in the backyard. The older kid found it a few days latter and said "Gee how did that get there?" and proceeded to look for new batteries.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:06 PM on January 3, 2011

Oh God that fridge thing. A little old for a 1yo, but definitely horrifying.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:07 PM on January 3, 2011

Oh and fake cell phones are a super annoying hit! You can talk to Elmo! 3! 3! 3!4!4!4!4!4! Riiiiiiiiing!
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:10 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

My brother just bought my toddler a Kiddieland brand My First Electronic Ride-On for the express purpose of driving me nuts. Kid loves it. It annoys the everloving CRAP out of me. It's like $20 at Walmart.
posted by kpht at 3:19 PM on January 3, 2011

As a parent, I encourage you to consider giving a great toy that will not drive the parents batty. When my kids get toys that drive me crazy, I remove them pretty quickly. This results in waste, really, when you consider the carbon footprint from the toy and batteries, plus the kid only gets short-term joy from your gift. Moreover, many of the toys that make electronic sounds can lead to hearing damage .

That being said, I have hated those Fisher-Price corn popper push things, drums, horns, electronic steering wheels, a talking Sponge Bob (child's dad eventually ripped out the voice box), LeapFrog maracas, Lily from LeapFrog, etc. The noisiest toys have all come from a family member who delights in buying my children toys that will drive me bonkers. The sad, thing, though is that it's a waste of money as I simply rotate the toys out at the first available opportunity, as having a stressed out mother over rules any benefit from the toys.

Is the one year old old enough for the hair dryer? Why not re-gift it, along with the real present? Perhaps your own child would delight in this idea, although it depends on your feelings about it.
posted by acoutu at 3:26 PM on January 3, 2011

oh this is bringing back dark memories. Evil toys I've received include: a plastic ball (kind of like this one) that plays a different annoying electronic nursery rhyme every time you push a button, and starts a new song over and over when you push a new button (as in: "Mary had a little- push- Mary had- push- Mary- push - Mary"). And, I kid you not, Toy chainsaw with sound. They gave my twins this and the matching jackhammer. I didn't make it a week with those before they went 'missing'.
posted by kch at 3:39 PM on January 3, 2011

My dad's best friend got me one of these before a long car trip. Dad has never forgiven him.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:52 PM on January 3, 2011

My daughter was given this for her first birthday. I disappeared it pretty quick.
posted by fancyoats at 4:04 PM on January 3, 2011

I foolishly bought this "musical stacker and ball game" for my first kid. A friend who came to visit when she was pregnant with her first child watched my son play it and said "let's not buy that". Its a great toy, but way too loud. Even if you turn the music off (which you can), the sound of the ball dropping is really clanky and loud. Also the balls are hard and make an annoying clack noise when dropped on hardwood floors. It really is fun though, for kids.
posted by Joh at 4:24 PM on January 3, 2011

I bought my two-year-old nephew a toy vacuum cleaner at Toys 'R Us. He loves it and it's loud as hell and annoys my sister to no end (even though she's the one who told me to get it.)
posted by fso at 4:28 PM on January 3, 2011

My mother loves to tell the story about my younger brother pushing his toy lawn mower (complete with lawn mower noises, obviously) around and around my parents' bed at hideously early hours in the morning. On my niece's first birthday mom, of course, gave her a lawn mower. My brother, clever guy that he is, relegated the lawn mower for outside use only (well, duh, mom!). Now my niece just follows him around when he mows and he can't hear the damn thing at all. Having said that, push toys that make noise are interesting to kids for a long time. I would vote for something like that.
posted by Poeia8Kate at 4:43 PM on January 3, 2011

Giggle balls are both obnoxious and demonically creepy.
posted by troublewithwolves at 5:18 PM on January 3, 2011

My parents gave this to my son - Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Sing-with-Me CD Player. I have never encountered a more annoying toy. It's got a few buttons that the kid can press, each of which triggers either an inane phrase - "Sing with me! Tee hee!" - or an unbearable rendition of a children's song done in some sort of faux-Broadway style. I always imagine that it's Kristin Chenowyth that's singing. Some of the songs even feature some additional made up lyrics that are extra lame.
posted by skwm at 5:21 PM on January 3, 2011

My daughter was given this for her first birthday. I disappeared it pretty quick.

Oh man. We have another VTech model on our family room floor right now. Iiiiiiiit's Learning Time!

Also: Counting Pal. He haunts my dreams. And a few of his feet have broken off, so he yells ONE! - THREE! - THREE! - THREE! - SIX! It's like a home for the criminally insane.
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

I hated the Sorry Revenge Card Game so much it had to go to Goodwill even though the kids liked it. (The pawn talks, and he's a total jerk.)

This voice changing speaker thing makes horrible, horrible sounds.
posted by lakeroon at 6:29 PM on January 3, 2011

Ethics compel me to limit myself to toys that did not actually end up removed from our home. I have some fondness for these noisemakers, out of respect for the many hours of entertainment obtained:

K's Kids Mom's on the Phone Very popular, very repetitive -- alleviated by one button which will play the message that you record, which makes it less painful
iPlay Rockin' Riffs Guitar The most "Oh god not that again" of the lot
Alex Tub Tunes Water Flutes Great toy, really -- check out their bathtub drum set too
VTech Happy Lights Bear "I am a bear, a happy bear, a friendly bear..." x1000
Lamaze Shapes and Sounds Fish Bowl Toy is way more "sounds" than "shapes" -- actually, this is the most "Oh god"
posted by kmennie at 6:47 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can find a Bubba for them... well, bless your heart.
posted by peagood at 7:08 PM on January 3, 2011

Someone once gave my brother and I laser guns that made all sorts of pew pew pew sounds. It was a perfect addition to our constant cops and robbers, aliens and humans pretend play.

Hmm... now that I think about it though... those guns 'got lost' kinda fast...
posted by p1nkdaisy at 8:30 PM on January 3, 2011

peagood: "If you can find a Bubba for them... well, bless your heart."

HA! I had one of those! I don't think it's annoying, then again I never played with it for hours on end...
posted by IndigoRain at 8:42 PM on January 3, 2011

Drums. My son was given a big drum like this one: Floor Tom and he and other kids that come by just love it. And while it is annoying at times, I find it way less annoying than most of the electronic toys he has (like this guitar Wiggle Guitar, which if he didn't love so much would have gone out the window a long time ago, and as is I tend to hide it from him when I can). So I think the drum hits the right balance between annoying, but not too annoying, and fun for the kiddo. You could get a toy piano in a similar vein, but I found those more annoying than the drum.
posted by katers890 at 7:32 AM on January 4, 2011

How about those books with the sound buttons on the side? I hate those things. You can get a kid pushing the same button over and over and over again, and it will drive the parents insane.
posted by pyjammy at 8:36 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas folks, keep them coming.

I'm going to go out looking today.
posted by madajb at 9:31 AM on January 4, 2011

V-Tech toys have a nasty habit of trying to induce the child back after they lose interest. The kids stops playing with it and after a while it goes quiet... then several minutes later, it will make noise again with no interaction. Which is especially fun when the kid is no longer in the room. Arg.
posted by Morydd at 10:06 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

NO NO NO NO, I remembered the WORST toy my boys had. Oh man. Here it is:

V-tech Move & Crawl Ball

Oh, you will not regret this! It is the MOST annoying toy EVER.
posted by pyjammy at 10:52 AM on January 4, 2011

And I am now convinced that V-tech is run by minions of Satan.
posted by pyjammy at 10:56 AM on January 4, 2011

padraigin: Oh man. Fridge Phonics. "Every letter makes a sound, B says BUH".

My younger kid is six and our Fridge Phonics set is in a landfill back in California somewhere and I still get that damn song stuck in my head sometimes. That was my kids' JAM back in the day.

Baby anachronism got this for Christmas. It is SUPER annoying but doesn't set off whatever thing it is that launches her into hysterics.

Which is why I'm cautioning you to take notice of the child, not just the parent. People assume kids love NOISE! AND LIGHTS! and not all kids do. So we've had to give away a bunch of toys because our daughter tries to play with them, gets hysterical because they won't stop making noise, then becomes MORE hysterical if you turn it off and finally cries until she vomits when you take the damn thing away. We've had some success showing her the 'off' button on things. It's just that she turns the fridge phonics thing off before it sings the song, so I generally make breakfast to 'a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a *pause* q q q q q q q q q q q says quh'.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:25 PM on January 4, 2011

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