Sunday, December 23, 2007

A special toy from a special store

In preparation for the "big trip" we've been warning Miriam about for the last few days ("warning," because it involves many hours of driving), I decided to buy her a special toy to use for the first time in the car. This toy, whatever it ended up being, would need to meet four requirements.

1. no small pieces or other attachments that could come apart and litter the car during the trip;

2. no potential for problems that would require parental intervention from the front seat;

3. no annoying voices; and

4. something exciting that we wouldn't usually get for Miriam.

I had pretty much decided to get her one of those storybooks that reads itself to you. Generally, I am against that kind of toy, but in this case, it would fulfill requirement #4.

So we went to Toys R Us, of all places, because I had seen an ad for a good sale on such items there. Otherwise, we avoid that place like the den of iniquity that it is.

I found the talking storybook aisle (yes, there is one) without too much difficulty, but I realized very quickly that I would not be making any purchases from it. You see, every single book was a "branded" item, meaning it featured Dora, Nemo, a Disney Princess, Thomas the Train, Elmo, etc., ad nauseam. I would have had no problem buying any of these books if they were about a young, explorer-type girl, or a fish, or a princess, or a choo-choo train, or a lovable (?) stuffed animal. But I refuse to buy into the brandification of my kid (except when it comes to Hello Kitty band-aids, because Miriam won't accept any other kind, and that was started by Grandma, anyway). Besides, the Elmo one at least would have been in flagrant violation of rule #3.

In the end, we bought one of those magic color pads. There were Nemo coloring pads and Disney Princess coloring pads, but I chose the one that was just normal. It met all the requirements (except for the pesky marker cap and rule #1) and Miriam had a grand old time with it in the car.


~~~ said...

I also refuse to buy into the brandification. Not on toys, clothes, or baby gear. Madelyn's grandma wanted to buy her a push-n-walk toy for Christmas, but thankfully she is aware of (and doesn't seem to be too annoyed by) my specific tastes and let me shop for it with her. Although I would have preferred a cool wooden one, we settled for a generic green plastic one--no Dora or princess in sight. Ahhh. Now if Madelyn comes across one of these stories/characters and forms an age-appropriate attachment on her own, of course I won't deny it. But hopefully that is a few years away.

~~~ said...

That last comment was me, Kristen.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Remember the talking story of "The Little Red Hen" that we used to have? It didn't exactly tell the story, but had sound effect buttons the kids could press which were indicated by corresponding shapes on the page. You used to be able to get non-branded toys/books like that.

Nancy said...

I take branded things if they are hand-me-downs. :) I'm not very picky when it comes to mooching.

I hope Miriam was good for you in the car--did you drive all the way from AZ to ID?

Jen said...

I REFUSE to by anything with a "licensed character" on it. I hate the idea that there are people somewhere sitting in a room wondering what ELSE they can slap Dora the Explorer on JUST TO MAKE MONEY.

Another reason...most (if not all) of the lead-paint recalls were from toys with branding.

Crys said...

Bridget...what about branded knock offs from other countries? This post made me laugh. I think some things are inevitable. Branding and potty talk are the two we run up against quite a bit now. I think you just have to say to yourself does this have anything to do with the toy we are getting or is it branding just for the sake of branding. For me personally a story book about Dora is not so bad. A table with a Dora head to do makeup at makes absolutely no sense. Potty talk, well that is its own fun. Ezra has a bunch of it and for the most part we try to curb it but it is a huge part of the playground world...just like branding :)

Bridget said...

Crystal raises a good point - what role is the brand playing? Miriam got a My Little Pony for Christmas. That was OK with me, because it was, after all, an actual pony. If it had been a My Little Pony tea set...I probably wouldn't have been so happy.

Shannan said...

My kids have broken me down in many areas - but I really really try to not buy what I call "character toys" - because it really is feeding into the materialism of consumerism. However, I can't say I'm perfect in this area because there are some brand stuff around here. It's easier when you have only one child and they are still young - you haven't been broken down yet. But keep on truckin'

Anonymous said...

so for what reason(s) exactly don't you like brands?


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