A Life Lesson: The Value of a Toy

Back in April, The Street reported that they expected the Top 18 toys of year would include plastic dolls, action figures, and movie toys.  With the US economy hitting yet another major “road bump,” parents have responded less than enthusiastically and are asking themselves, “What is the true value of the toys we purchase for our children.”

Use the following equation when purchasing a toy:

Play Time + Quality/Durability + Time Endurance = THE TRUE VALUE OF A TOY

Play time:  How long will my child actually play with this toy?

The scenario:  Johnny begs for the “toy of the week” from an infomercial he saw.  Mom buys it and Johnny plays with it for a week.  Two months later, mom finds the “toy of the week” at the bottom of the toy box.  Mom is frustrated that she spent the $24.99 on a toy that provided about the same amount of fun as Johnny’s latest Happy Meal toy.

In the future:  Mom should wait it out.  Soon enough the “toy of the week” will pass.  Look for items that are versatile enough to encourage many levels of play (i.e. multiple players, other story lines, interchangeable pieces, etc.).

Quality & Durability:  Will it take the abuse of a child?

The scenario:  Mom buys 5 year old Susie the nail polish station.  Susie will play with it daily and for hours.  Sadly, within a couple of weeks the sticker appliqués are peeling at the corners and the glued trim is starting to separate.

In the future:  Read up before you purchase.  Read reviews from families just like yours to find out the pros and cons of the product.  Often times, you can find a similar item to compare Susie’s favorite to help you make an informed purchase.

Time Endurance: Can this toy be passed down to younger children or future generations?

The scenario:  Dad finds some really cool cars to buy for his children.  Some of the plastic ones have flashy sticker appliqués while some of the metal hot rods have been air brushed.  Dad purchases a combination of them.  Within a year, the plastic ones have had their doors snapped off, are missing tires, and you can clearly tell which ones have been left outside by the faded stickers.

In the future: Those metal cars will stand the test of time.  They may be bumped and scratched, but they survived “crash up derbies,” being buried in the sandbox, and run over by bikes.  The plastic cars will not likely have made it this far.  Keep in mind what your child’s new toy is made of and consider whether it will (a) quickly make it to the trash, (b) make it to a future yard sale or (c) be handed down to a cherished family member.

Be more conscious of the items you purchase: read up, search for the best price, and assess the quality of your children’s products.  Not only will you be teaching your child a “valuable” lesson, but someday you may still have the toys to show for it!

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