Some toys are over hyped and others that I quite like, are never advertised. When I see new toys or the kid wants something she saw on TV, I usually ask myself “What can this toy be used for” and “How long will it keep the kid interested.” The last question I sometimes never ask, cause I never get that far is “Does the toy teach anything or does it build imagination or some other characteristic.”
These three questions, hopefully will give me an idea about the usefulness and longevity of the new toy. If the toy passes the first two questions then it is into the realm of learning. Some toys never make it this far, they are just ornaments. I don’t look at the safety aspect as most toys are safe, but I am careful with little bits and pieces.
For the first question I think about what you can do with the toy. Whether you can play alone or with friends. Can it be used with other toys to do other things, or is it a one hit wonder.
As an example we will use the Star Wars Darth Vader Mask. This little toy is very popular because of the film, but I think its usefulness is very limited. You could use it in pretend play but how long will that last. I would say this type of toy is used for sharing, a sort of play and share toy to see who can come up with the most outrageous line. It is not really the type of toy you could play with by yourself.
For the second question I think this toy would be discarded quite early, as there seems to be very little to keep the kid amused. Once you have said your few lines what do you then. Then again there are all the accessories to buy to go with the mask, like the clothes and boots. The money is in the accessories these days. Unless your kid wants to be an actor I would not get around to asking the third question.
The toys I do like are the LEGOS, the MEGA BLOKS and the PLAYMOBILS that the kids use to build things. Gone are the days when I was young and LEGO was a bucket of bricks that you could make anything with. The only limit was your imagination.
Nowadays imagination has gone out the door to be replaced with an operator’s manual so you get all the bricks and accessories in the right place. They are still fun to do. The finished product is a beautiful crafted masterpiece that usually ends up on top of the piano or coffee table until the cat destroys it.
So far for my kid the max is three times to redo one. So I would say the novelty wears off after three attempts. These toys build finishing ability and teach how to follow a plan. Also they are good for a rainy afternoon as they can take some time to finish. But the downside is they can be very pricey.
For these toys the answer to the first questions would be-- the kid can build something. They can see the finished product and match it with the picture to see if it is correct. The next answer would be they can remake it or make there own design. And for the last question I would say the kid should definitely learn something while putting the blocks together.
Using these three questions I somehow manage to buy what I consider to be useful toys. Therefore I am not swamped by the advertising hype or the “Keeping up with the Jones” sort of thing.
Article by copyright © Peter Legrove 2006, at www.animalsdinosaursandbugs.com
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Thank you Peter Legrove
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