How to avoid rip off toys

As the end of the year rolls around we are once again confronted with tinsel, Christmas carols and with that the mayhem that is Christmas shopping. Moneybags journalist, Danielle Van Wyk, lists some budget friendly toy gift ideas that won’t leave you feeling ripped off and out of pocket.

Christmas gifting is a common practice in most homes, especially ones with kids. As all year round children are told stories of Father Christmas and his reindeer who bring gifts to well behaved boys and girls and after exhausting that bargaining tool, parents are expected to deliver.

What should a child’s toy entail?

“Adults often seem to forget what toys are for. Play is the “work” of childhood. While they play, our children are learning new skills, defining themselves as individuals, and practicing relationships with others and with the physical world. When this is also fun, they are learning that learning, being themselves, and sharing are all pleasant experiences. Good toys are toys that help kids do those things,” said Marie Hartwell-Walker, an educational expert who has a doctorate in education.

With the vast selection of toys available these days, you are truly spoilt for choice. There are a range of toys to choose from which offer you something that both entertains and stimulates your child. Hartwell-Walker advises narrowing your search down by first establishing what it is your child enjoys and factoring in aspects like their age and developmental stage.

Top toy categories

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

-Building blocks – These are available at most toy stores and provide kids with the hours of ‘constructive playing’ pleasure.

-Lego- “Encourages development of fine motor skills and creativity,” reveals Hartwell-Walker.

-Arts and crafts- This allows kids to develop their creativity in way that is easy and fun. There are a range of different art and craft supplies available suitable for all ages, from crayons to play dough to paint.

-Board games- An age appropriate board game, can “encourage cooperative play and problem solving,” explains Hartwell-Walker.

-Musical toys- Exposure to music is an essential part of development as it encourages discipline.

-Outdoor toys- Any toy that encourages physical activity is vital. “Too many of our kids lack physical confidence and competence,” states Hartwell-Walker.

According to David Tredinnick, CEO of Toy Kingdom some of their bestselling brands include Shopkins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Paw Patrol, Syma, Fisher Price, Barbie, Hot Wheels and Zoomer.

Budget friendly toy shopping

But as parents it is often not financially feasible to purchase these brand name toys. Tredinnick suggests looking at budget friendly alternatives. He notes: “Our Toy Kingdom stores are stocked with budget friendly brands such as Zuru Robofish, Robo Jellyfish, Robo Turtle, Gyro YoYo, Magic Bubble, Magic Worm, and Bunch-O-Balloons.”

Another initiative that has really taken off in South Africa and has alleviated the pressure on financially disadvantaged parents, while allowing those who are able and wanting to make a child’s Christmas, is the social saving platform called ADDaBIT.

This initiative allows you to create a fund online for a certain beneficiary and invite others to financially contribute towards the gift or goal, explains CEO Michael Griffin.

Funding a beneficiary is fairly simple, adds Griffin, as it takes the form of a normal online purchase, where contributors would use their credit or debit card.

“We are not a retailer and do not sell product directly, we are working on partnerships with certain retailer that will enable our users to get discounts from their stores when redeeming their vouchers,” highlights Griffin.

Most toy stores these days unfortunately do not make provision for lay-byes but have other initiatives that can save you money at the end of the day.

“We don’t offer a lay-bye system for toys, however, we understand the tough economic times our customers are facing and are proud to have a loyalty system where the Toy Kingdom Royalty Club offers members’ cash back equivalent to 4% back on purchases, which is higher than most other retailers loyalty programmes benefits. One Royalty point is equal to R1. For every R25 that is spent members will receive one royalty point,” revealed Tredinnick.

Return policy on toys

Most retail stores have a return policy in place as per the regulations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

“We operate in accordance to the CPA, in other words items that have any factory defects are either refunded completely or replaced, provided proof of purchase is supplied,” said Tredinnick.

Just because a toy is considered popular doesn’t mean it is always the best buy. When gifting this season remember to shop around and compare prices, while keeping your child’s interests in mind. Happy shopping.