We hear this question a lot, but especially during this time of the year as Christmas approaches. When asked this question, we see it as an opportunity—an opportunity to explain the whole “hot toy” phenomenon and what it really means to you, the consumer.
The “hot toy” by its very nature is not necessarily the best toy. It’s the most popular toy at the time, and that means one thing—marketing. In most cases, it has a large marketing budget behind it that allows promotion on TV, radio, newspaper, and the Internet.
It’s easy to go back through the years and think of hot toys—Cabbage Patch, Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo, Zhu Zhu pets and more. I admit, these are all entertaining toys. However, none of them rank high on the play-value scale, which is our guide for recommending toys throughout the year including the Christmas season.
What is the play-value scale?
The play-value scale is actually quite simple and consists of three questions.
1) Will the child play with the toy well after Christmas?
2) Will the child outgrow the toy too fast?
3) Will the child learn from the toy without really knowing that he/she is actually learning?
Questions 1 and 2 appear to be similar. They are indeed different. At Christmas, most children get multiple toys. There’s a time period where they play with all their toys. If a child is likely to play with a specific toy over all the other toys after the initial “play” period is over, then that toy is given a higher play value.
For question 2, we’re trying to determine if the toy will entertain for more than just a few months such as the Flying Turtle. In this case, a child "sit-skates", zipping along any hard, smooth surface by swinging the handlebars from side to side. Since it holds up to 225 lbs, even adults can ride it and they get a good physical workout, too.
Lastly, if a toy is educational in nature and provides some type of learning while also entertaining without the child realizing it, then the toy receives a high play value.
All three of these components are important in determining play value of a toy and can vary, depending on the toy. We encourage all of our consumers to think about the play-value scale during any toy-buying experience and it will likely result in a child that is content with a toy for a longer period of time.