Pocket money

pocket money toys

Today I’m thinking about toys, I’m a parent and I work in a toy shop so it happens a lot I suppose. But today I’m thinking about one type of toy in particular, this is a kind of toy that we as parents probably think of as fairly insignificant: they are those small purchases made for any number of reasons. The reasons could easily include buying a toy one day just because you’re in a shop and your child has been especially good, or you may pick something up because you’re on holiday and want your child to have something fun to do while you’re there or perhaps (as is most often the case) these toys count as part of your weekly routine as a reward at the end of the week when you give them their pocket money. Despite the various reasons behind such purchases the most frequent is the last one mentioned and so these innocuous little items have gained the name ‘pocket money toys’.

The main thing that popped into my mind when I decided to start writing about toys was how surprising it can be to see which toys in particular win a place in your child’s heart. What made me feel the need to write this particular post was the recollection of a particular set of toys which my son got about two years ago on a quick trip into the toy shop with Granny. They had just nipped up the road to pop in and visit me at work and while they were there Granny got him a wee thing just to keep him occupied. The toy he chose was a set of four zoo animals in a plastic packet that had sat in the pocket money section and sold well for weeks, if I remember correctly they cost something like £3.99/£4.99. In short neither Granny or I expected Logan to consider them as something particularly special they were just bought as a little keepsake that we thought might keep him occupied for the afternoon. How wrong we were.

The characters in the packet developed, they became extensions of Logan’s personality, he would say things in a different voice for each of the animals, they opened up his imagination and gave us access to some of his inner thought processing. Three characters in particular began to stand out; he named the lion, the elephant and the baboon after characters from ‘Ice Age’ (his favourite film at the time). In these little characters we gained three new additions to our household. These characters could not be left behind even on a quick trip to the shops, and their personalities became more pronounced as time went on: Diego (the protective and sometimes fierce lion), Manny (the subdued and friendly elephant) and Sid (the excitable and often frightened baboon) became members of our family.

We got caught up in the drama on the day that Manny got run over by a bus, thankfully he came through unscathed (though a week or so after a tusk fell off which we peg up to the bus accident). Diego went missing for a fortnight and I would genuinely sit up at night worrying about whether he was lost for good and how we would break it to Logan. Happily he turned up and I shared in Logan’s excitement and relief at his return.

Over the course of the past two years Logan’s characters have touched our lives and it just goes to show that you can never predict just what toy will be taken to heart and become beloved member of the household. The thing that scares me a little is how simply I could have initially dismissed these little characters and lost the opportunity to have them in our lives. Perhaps I might have suggested an alternative: a colouring book or a die-cast car and I would never have known how many hours of fun, heartache, excitement and joy those little pocket money zoo creatures would have given us. I see parents in the shop doing this all the time: “No you don’t want that, why not go for this instead? It’s much better value.” The truth is that we really can’t predict the value which a toy will acquire, toys can quickly gain a kind of sentimental value that money can’t touch.

Do you only look at toys in adult terms, weighing pros and cons and likelihood of potential for play? If you do you’re not alone but keep in mind that your children and the toys they pick can easily surprise you. If it’s just a wee thing why not just let them choose their own without interference? We can be more fiscally responsible when we go for the big items at Christmas and for birthdays but if we’re dishing out pocket money surely it’s up to the one with the money in their hand exactly how they’ll spend it. You never know when a pocket money toy can change your life.

12 comments on “Pocket money

  1. I should also mention ‘Stripes’ the zebra, he was the fourth toy in the packet and never really got included in the early games. However after Logan watched ‘Racing stripes’ and got hold of yet another pocket money toy (this time a pony he called ‘Sandy’) there were whole new games opened up and Stripes certainly hasn’t been left out. A happy ending for the whole gang.


  2. […] of ‘decent’ toys to be found in a well stocked pocket money section (see my post on pocket money toys from a while back for my views on how great ‘pocket money’ toys can be) but I […]


  3. […] fixated on a particular toy, he had been more of a hoverer when it came to playing (jigsaws and Manny and Diego excepted). We generally open presents in the morning, have some lunch with my parents and then go […]


  4. […] appropriate age for kids to stop playing‘ (that is, never, in my opinion) and ‘pocket money toys‘ might work well since they are things that many people can relate to and should hopefully […]


  5. […] fixated on a particular toy, he had been more of a hoverer when it came to playing (jigsaws and Manny and Diego excepted). We generally open presents in the morning, have some lunch with my parents and then go […]


  6. […] week marks the one year anniversary of this blog (you can find my first wee post here). I have to admit that for the first few months (maybe as much as the first 6) it felt like a hard […]


  7. […] for pocket money toys? My feelings about the value of pocket money toys have been made clear in a previous post but it’s worth making them known again here: they’re a simple, inexpensive play item […]


  8. […] For my regular followers, this post is going to be a bit different and I’ll be straying pretty far off my usual toy-related topics. If you fancy joining me for the next few paragraphs I welcome anything you have to say about. If you’d rather wait for my next toy post then our regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly and in the mean time feel free to check out some toy related posts I prepared earlier ‘How to Play‘, ‘Why are dinosaurs so universal?‘, or my first ever post which was about my son’s favourite toys at the time ‘Pocket money‘. […]


  9. Will says:

    As a child, most of my toys were like these. My parents used to buy them every time we traveled to the beach (once a year). Usually, they were dinosaurs, the greatest obsession of my childhood. I loved to play with them in the sand, pretending it to be a desert, and then let them reach the sea, which was as amazing for me as it was for those little dinos. The more expensive toys used to come only on my birthday and on Christmas. I liked them, but I had a deeper connection with the pocket money ones.


    • John says:

      Hi Will, thanks for commenting. It’s maybe got something to with the everyday nature of pocket-money toys vs. the ‘special’ nature of Christmas/Birthday presents. The pocket-money toys are a simple and comfortable part of our day-to-day lives whilst the others are on a pedestal/ ‘important’/ expensive/ things we have to be careful with.


  10. […] My first ever John the Toy shop guy blog post ‘Pocket Money’ […]


  11. […] started using WordPress in June 2012. WordPress is a website builder, but I have always leaned on it’s blogging capabilities. Back […]


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