The solution to annoying blind bags? More blind bags?

LEGO-Guess-How-ManyBlind bags are a little ridiculous, I’ve discussed this before and just yesterday ‘oglemylego’ decided to share that post over on reddit (among other places). As a result my blog has had another moment of fame (my last bit of reddit fame was for my post on kraggling). This little flash of fame is probably my biggest yet, apparently there are literally thousands of you reading today, which is just brilliant, thank you.

Now back to blind bags, I had expected the thread over on reddit to contain a lot of defence of blind bags, given that the Lego community over there are adults who are likely to notice the cost a little less than a child scraping pocket money change together after getting a little over-zealous in the sweet shop. However, it would seem that even adult Lego collectors, on the whole, don’t like throwing their money around blindly either.

So what’s the solution? Could we get away with a small viewing window which retains mystery but makes it easier to figure out what you’re getting (a great suggestion from ‘tobiariah’)? or is there another option.

Given that Lego is clearly wanting to keep the blind bag earning potential I doubt we’ll get them to change the dynamic all that much, so how about a compromise: Lego bit bags. A bit bag would contain a piece, or a few pieces that you just wouldn’t get in any regular set. It could contain things like an unusual door, some space-themed wheels, a superhero head, a collection of cool accessories, etc. etc.

Overall this could satisfy Lego’s apparent need to create a blind product, whilst keeping the cost down to an actual manageable level for a kid with pocket-money to spend. Also it would be more in keeping with Lego’s ‘master-builder’ ethos that it’s been promoting through the Lego movie.

Alternatively, legend tells that many many years ago, in toy shops throughout the land, Lego was sold in individual piece form. Our modern supermarkets would baulk at the idea of loose Lego lying around their stores but independents and toys specialists could happily display big collection cases. Seems a much fairer way to appeal to pocket-money trade than asking kids (and adults) to blindly hand over their cash.

As always I welcome any thoughts you guys might have on this in the comments section below and if you fancy keeping up with me over on twitter I’ll be very happy to see you over there. Thanks for reading (and welcome to my blog to all the redditors), Cheers, John

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Stop tantrums dead in their tracks!

This epic 'Baby Hulk' is by Carlos Sastre Antoranz

This epic ‘Baby Hulk’ is by Carlos Sastre Antoranz

Want your child to stop screaming for what they want? Simple, just give them it! Want them to stop complaining about being somewhere they don’t like? Simple, just take them where they want to go. No one wants to sit through some speech or other when they could be at the park or the cinema anyway, it’s a win win, and the best part is you can use your kid as an excuse. It’s exhausting constantly fighting over issues with your kids, not to mention stressful. Just take the strain off, lower your blood pressure, put your feet up and give in. Conflict isn’t for families anyway, surely it’s better just to keep everyone happy.

What’s the alternative anyway? Say no to even the most reasonable request just so that your kids know who the ‘boss’ is? and boss of what? (we could add) Families aren’t businesses with a product or service to sell, they don’t have to worry about beating last years performance/revenue. Why would a family need a boss? On top of that, two-parent/carer families would have to have two bosses and that can’t go well as there’s no guarantee they’ll always agree.

step-brothersI should point out that the unfortunate side-effect of the first option is a very high set of expectations, but it seems more appealing than the potential side effects of option two including a lack of drive and individual motivation in the absence of being told what to do and the increased risk of members resigning from ‘Family inc.’ when they tire of towing the party line. I mean, kids brought up via method one might be spoiled beyond belief but at least they’ll never want to leave right? Like they won’t want to leave ever, it’s great, you can fix up the attic/basement and make them a little home of their own.

Happily, we all typically pick a spot somewhere in the middle of these two extremes and with any luck our kids won’t run away from home, turn into mindless drones, or end up lodging with us through our retirement. That said, we still have this gruelling problem of tantrums: how do we deal with this unreasonable, high pitched audio visual attack? Do we just ‘pick our battles’ and give in occasionally? How do we decide which time is best to give in? and how far do we give in when we do?

The short answer is that it’ll be different for every kid and every parent. The long answer is that there is another way, I’ve seen a lot of meltdowns in my line of work and one of the most effective ways of dealing with tantrums is not to let them happen in the first place. There are parents among us who have developed the uncanny ability to foresee tantrums and take the wind out their sails before they even get started. I have to admit I’m not always one of these kinds of parents, my two have both had their share of public meltdowns, hell some of you reading this may even have had the pleasure of experiencing one. I’ve met a number of these hyper-aware parents but here’s just one example.

professor-xThere’s a dad that comes into the shop fairly regularly with his son, the boy must be about 7 or 8 years old now but they’ve been coming in for a few years and in that time I have never, and I mean never, seen the boy have a tantrum. One of the key things I’ve noticed about the two of them is a mutual respect and a willingness on the dad’s part to be clear, explanatory and reasonable with his son. He’s clear about why they’ll be going into the toy shop (I can hear him at the door), he listens to his son and responds positively to reasoned arguments for things to buy. I should point out that by ‘positive response’ I don’t mean he instantaneously rewards good arguments with a toy, but he does acknowledge a good point well made. Probably the key thing that I’ve noticed about their interactions is that the boy understands that a shopping trip is not all about acquiring stuff for himself, sometimes it’s not even going to lead to any purchases. In short, his expectations are set pretty low and he seems genuinely pleased with even the smallest occasional purchase.

A seven or eight year old is a far cry from a toddler (or worse still a three-year-old) but I can even see this working (in a diminished sense) with younger kids. The key issue on top of the responsiveness and reasonableness will be figuring out the time of day to expect their reasoning to be at it’s highest (i.e. not at nap time/snack time/after exertion/any time their mood is generally off kilter), for a lot of young kids the window of reasonability is small though, so to be perfectly honest your best bet may be a set of ear plugs (and some to pass round to other shoppers).

Have you found an effective way of avoiding these experiences of high conflict? Do you think they’re just an unavoidable aspect of parenthood? Have you been through this and reached the other side? What’s it like over there? Is there anything you would have done differently, looking back? As always, answers and comments are welcome below and I’m always up for a blether about toys, life and people over on twitter. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your views, all the best, John

Why Make Blind Bags!?

IMAG0511Lego Simpsons mini-figures are here! Thursday was the 1st of May which meant that we were finally allowed to put our boxes of Lego Simpsons mini-figures out on the shelves (we’d had them in the back for a week or so but Lego wouldn’t allow us to put them out till the 1st). To be honest I’m pretty sure that we’ll be out of stock sometime next week since there’s a Lego based episode of the Simpsons being aired this weekend as well. This is all brilliant for us but the question I’m hearing from a lot of parents is ‘why the blind-bags?’ and to this I have trouble finding any answer other than ‘Lego wants to make money’.

IMAG0515I understand that there’s an element of the excitement of the unknown involved in blind bags, I can even recognise this as part of the appeal, perhaps even to an extent this might be part of why children buy them: there’s a hint of risk, the rush of not knowing if you’re about to get something really special or if you’re about to get a figure that is the exact copy of five identical figures you already have at home. To be honest blind bags are the lottery scratch cards of childhood.

The problem is that whilst the majority of adults (you would hope) are likely to be able to understand the odds of a win compared to a loss, I’m just not so sure that children are all that equipped for the disappointment. I’m not saying we should protect our kids from this, I’d probably support the opposite stance: that children will become more resilient individuals if they occasionally have to face a set back. What I find strange is that toy companies are willingly eliciting this kind of reaction, in fact they’d be hard-pushed to deny the fact that a huge proportion of a child’s experience of blind bags will be of disappointment (especially as they approach the completion of a collection and are only looking for the last couple of figures).

IMAG0514I get why lottery card companies are OK with the disappointment, they carefully factor in a host of smaller prizes/ consolations to ensure that hope is kept moderately alive. However, a toy isn’t like this, I’ve talked about the value of toys in a previous post but it’s worth going over it a bit again here. Whilst a consolatory win on a scratch-card which equals the value you paid might make an adult feel good I’m not sure if picking up a fifth copy of the same toy holds the same sway on a child. Sure they got a toy with their money but it’s the complete opposite of what they wanted, it’s more of the same, it takes them no closer to finishing their collection whilst at the same time using up their pocket money.

Children will get heavily caught up in the chase to get the specific figures they want from a set of blind-bags but is this really the kind of experience a toy manufacturer wants their buyers/fans to have? A child crying because the figure they got isn’t the one they wanted might look spoiled but just think about what they’re actually being forced to endure.

Imagine if book companies started doing this: for example, imagine you want to start reading Harry Potter but that they now come in blind-bag form (because, you know, more fun and all). You get a copy of book 3 only to realise that you really need book 1 to understand what’s going on, you buy another blind-book-bag and hooray!,  when you open your blind bag you find book 1, in fact you’re lucky enough to get as far as book 5 (with a few spare copies of 1 and 2 but you know, blind bags, adds to the fun). However, now the odds start stacking up against you and to make matters worse you find out that books 6 and 7, the end of the series, the bit that makes it all make sense and completes the collection, are ‘ultra-rare’ books. As the pile of extra copies of books 1 through 5 starts to mount-up and you see more of your cash pour away on the ‘fun’ of blind bags, wouldn’t you too feel more and more inclined to just break down in a full-on tantrum in the middle of the book shop?

Going back to the crying child in a toy shop now. Are they really spoiled for getting upset at a quintuple duplicate or are they simply reacting to an unjust waste of their pocket money and time?

Blind bags are insane, from a toy manufacturer’s perspective they may make a lot more money a lot faster than just, you know, packaging products in a way that allows the consumer to see what they’re getting, but should this really come at the expense of children enjoying the toys you make? Maybe there’s a dimension to blind-bag collecting that I’m missing here? I’m very thankful that neither of my kids are at a blind-bag buying age (for now) but I’m dreading the inevitable day when one of them gets hooked on a collection and basically gets turned into a little gambler. Do any of you guys have a blind bag story (or two) to share? Maybe we should start a petition or something? Also, click on these links if you’d like to pop over and share your feelings about kraggling and/or the usefulness of Lego as a tool for teaching children about impermanence (and perhaps even grief). Anyway, as always I love to see that people have stopped by and if you guys join in down in the comments, even better. You can also catch me over on twitter and join in discussion about blind bags by searching for #blindbag. Thanks for reading, Cheers, John

jack-reusen-cover-front2ONE LAST THING: I’m children’s author and would really love it if you popped over to the official site for my books. The Jack Reusen series follws a boy who accidentally tears holes between his world and a ‘Fey’. Fey hosts an array of magical people and creatures and the breaches allow a small collection of odd creatures to stumble into Jack’s world. Along with them comes a girl with a very unusual power who finds herself lost, scared and alone in a world she doesn’t understand. She seeks Jack out to help her find her way back to Fey and in the process the two of them find themselves pulled into something much bigger than they expected. Sinister forces are interested in Jack’s world and it’s up to Jack and his new friend to try and stop them. Please take a look at the official site if you have the time (I’d really appreciate it).

Top 5 toys this March

night narcissusUnlike lists of ‘top 5 for Christmas’, in some ways these kinds of lists can give you a more honest idea about the kinds of things kids like. For starters the top 5 for different months of the year can be less influenced by advertising but more than that they often reflect pocket money/ holiday money spending. This kind of thing can give you a real insight into the kind of things children really want. What they spend their own money on can often be wildly different from the kinds of things they might ask Santa for.

So without further ado lets have a look at what toys/games etc. seem to be flying out this month:

brookite stunt kite5. Kites: There’s no doubt that this one is weather induced but who can blame them? The wind has been so strong it’s been blowing the door open all week (and it’s a heavy door), it’s definitely kite weather. Just today I’ve sold four large kites, one of them was a huge two handled stunt kite from Brookite, it’s actually got a warning on telling parents not to allow younger children to use it in case they take off (no I’m not joking). Given how windy it is at the moment I’m expecting to see children flying past any minute now.

shopload of books4. Books: We’ve just had world book day, kids seem to be excited about their favourite authors again and I have to say books would be much higher on my list if I was just just counting interest, as there’s been a huge increase in the amount of kids just hanging out at the book section and browsing through what we’ve got. Electronic games haven’t beaten the appeal of a good story just yet.

gruffalo jigsaw puzzle book3. Puzzles: Puzzles are pretty much a staple in Fun Junction with loads being bought for birthday presents. A lot of the time it’s one of the easiest ways to track down something featuring a favourite character but it’s also a popular gift for children just turning three as they move on from toddler toys and onto more advanced pre-schooler activities that stretch their skills and help with their development. I can vouch for this, I was really excited when both boys started doing puzzles, it was such a great thing to see their little brains getting powered up and developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they figured out where the pieces went and how to orientate them.

This isn’t to mention the 500 and 1000 piece puzzles we sell for grown ups which are becoming more and more popular in our Crieff shop (they already have a long-standing and loyal following through in Perth). With all this in mind I would expect puzzles to feature in the top 5 list of any month.

top-model-make-up2. Top Model: Like puzzles Top Model is a staple, it’s a brilliant yet simple range of fashion-orientated colouring books (for want of a better word). You get a book full of pages which are blank but for a simple line drawing picture of a ‘model’ which children dress in clothes of their own design and then colour in. It’s been in our top 5 sellers list for years and to be honest it doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of shifting.

lego movie space lego guy everything is awesome1. Lego Movie kits: Every now and again something toy related climbs into the public consciousness and if the company is lucky it’ll be for good reasons that lead to a massive level of awareness. The Lego Movie came out just a couple of weeks ago and it has just skyrocketed in public awareness. No advertising campaign could have done what this movie has done for Lego: it’s pushed Lego sales from a steady constant (high level) to something way beyond. We’re genuinely amazed at how much Lego is going this month but having watched the film with my boys a day or two after the premier I can safely say it’s simply too awesome a movie to disappear. I loved it and I’ve a feeling Logan will be after a bundle of Lego (and the DVD) when his birthday comes around in July (and I won’t have a problem with that at all).

This isn’t necessarily a list of my favourite toys, they’re just the biggest sellers I’ve noticed so far this month. That said I do like everything on the list and I’m pretty sure I’ll be requesting some Lego for my birthday next month. I’m expect that things will probably change a bit in the run up to Easter (20th April this year) as more and more people are starting to opt for an Easter gift which doesn’t feature too much chocolate. I’ll pop another ‘top 5 sellers this month’ in April and we can see how things have changed. I’d love to hear what other people think about the toys on this list and I’d really appreciate it if you would take a minute to share your views in the comments below. As always thanks for reading and don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my blog posts straight to your inbox (new subscribers are awesome!), Cheers, John

The cost of toys, is this the end of ‘pocket money toys’?

are pocket money toys on their way to becoming a thing of the past?According to Dominic Sacco over at Toy News Online Tesco has decided to downsize their toy section (along with many other ‘non-food’ sections). The reason they give is high cost and low margin and I expect that this won’t be the last we hear of this kind of thing. The truth is it’s getting trickier to get toys made cheaply in China because two things are happening at once. The first, and most obvious, change is that the cost of living (and the expectation) of life in China is changing and this is resulting in an increase in the price of getting something manufactured there. To be honest this first change has been a long time coming and we can hardly be surprised that China’s expectations for standard of living have risen along with their position in the world.

selection of traditional and new pocket money toysThe second change is one that is effecting the lowest priced items the most (though the effects ; CE certification (health and safety checks) used to be based on the assessment of a product in it’s first run at a factory, after that point the company could continue to manufacture that product with minor amendments (colour etc.) for years. However, a new move has now been introduced which, on the face of it, is supposed to avoid the risk standards slipping over time: basically checks are now performed at regular intervals and every test costs money. The tests appear to cost a flat rate and so the result of this is that the effect this has on high priced items will be minimal with the test amounting to a small fraction of the cost per item. However for toys at the budget/ pocket money end where margins are already kept pretty tight there’s less room for them to take this kind of cost and still come in as something you could market as a ‘pocket money’ item.

great wee construction sets at pocket money pricesI can imagine that this situation will only become more pronounced over time and so the question we’re left with is what does this mean 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 which can nonetheless become a staple part of your child’s play (that is if they’re built to last). What’s more, pocket money toys provide a surprising wealth of play experience, allowing children to encounter very different types of toys (and play) without having to sacrifice a Christmas or Birthday present to test out a new type of toy.

cheap and cheerful and lots of fun, a great way to introduce children to scienceWith this in mind the effect on the way children play will likely be complex but I do expect less pocket money toys to produce an initial lessening in the range of play which kids engage in. This may produce something of a polarising effect in the toy market as children stick to tried and tested toys and become less willing to venture into different camps. Of course many pocket money toys can be described as ‘cheap tat’ but this often misses the point: buying oner of these cheaper toys lets you know if your child will be likely to play with their more expensive counterparts.

Take one very simple example taken from my life. As you can see in my old pocket money post Logan gained some favourite toys in the form a small set of pocket money animals he got when he was two. We now have two toy drawers at home stuffed full of animal and dinosaur figures, most of them are schleich figures which are far from being the cheapest toy figures on the market but they’re far more detailed and generally really robust so we felt it was worth the extra cost. As far as toy animals are concerned I’m not sure if we would have stepped up our spending to this degree if we hadn’t been sure that Logan would play with them and the pocket money animal set he got was a big part of that decision-making process.

So basically I’m trying to point out that pocket money toys are going to start costing more whilst other toys may not increase to the same degree but I don’t think this should put us off buying them. These kinds of toy can be a vital research tool for parents, allowing them to gauge their child’s response to play formats they may not have been exposed to yet. In short, if we lose pocket money the whole industry could change, but more than this (and much worse) children are likely to polarise towards the kinds of play that are most familiar to them, as they become less and less exposed to things that lie outside their comfort zone. We may need to start limiting buying pocket money toys to once a fortnight or once a month or risk a massive rise on our toy spending as parents, but I don’t think we should stop buying them. We should stick to pocket money toys as they teach our children not simply to treat themselves every now and then but also pocket money toys show them new worlds of play and I for one am comfortable with spending a bit more (maybe less often) to continue to make this happen.

Tuesday repost: Educational value

Here is this weeks re-post, it has always intrigued me to watch the reasoning parents put behind the advice they give their children on how to spend pocket/holiday money, this led to the post I made last September and I’ve a feeling I’ll be delving into something similar on Thursday. Sorry for the sporadic posting over the past few weeks, I’m hammering on with our web site on Thursdays now and that used to be my main day for blogging. I’ll try and get back on track this week.

I’ve made the decision that this week (and possibly from now on) I’ll be doing a post on toys in general and then another about a specific toy that either of my sons (or I myself) enjoy. Hope this works, if people don’t like the new set-up let me know and I’ll go back to the normal of one a week.

Parents (and in this I’m really referring mostly to dads) occasionally go through a peculiar process of persuasion with their kids in the shop where the kid has picked a toy but the parent thinks a more expensive toy would be better value. To be honest there really isn’t anything wrong with this, provided they’re right about value and this is the odd bit because value is a slightly relative notion: e.g. a child who likes cars and doesn’t really play outdoors much is unlikely to play with a kite, regardless of the quality of the product (though of course there’s nothing wrong with showing them something new) so there’s little value to be had in getting him/her a kite.

The strangest value judgement by far is when parents assess value based on developmental contribution (that is allocating value based on how much the toy helps their child to develop). We parents can’t help but hear about the latest ideas about how to get our kids to reach their ‘potential’ but some parents allow this to steer all the decisions they make regarding their children. Some toy companies specialise in the kind of advertising which appeals to this mentality (leapfrog springs to mind) and though their toys may provide the developmental assistance advertised this doesn’t mean that other toys (which aren’t advertised in this way) can’t.

A bouncy ball can help hand eye coordination, any dice based board game can contribute to early numeracy, dolls and other character-based toys aid in language development and in social awareness (not to mention imagination), jigsaws stimulate the shape recognition capacities that will assist children in understanding further mathematical concepts which they will encounter later in their school career (and the same could be said of any construction toy), the list can go on and on. There isn’t a toy in the shop that I couldn’t describe in a way that points out some developmental benefit which it can provide.

Keeping this in mind then it seems odd to refuse the child a cheaper toy solely based on the fact that it’s seems less enabling of a child’s development. Of course if there’s some specific thing that the kid needs help with perhaps the parent will need to consider toys that might help them a bit but when the child is just looking to spend some holiday/pocket money it seems a bit of a shame to force them to spend their own money (as far as they are concerned) on something more ‘educational’. What better way to put a child off of something?

What’s more really good learning resources don’t have to cost a fortune. I remember a customer a while ago whose daughter was having problems with recognising numbers and with counting, what was worse was the girl had started to put up a block whenever her mother approached the subject with her. I suggested that she get some spotted dice and some number dice and try playing light hearted games with them (keeping talk of the numbers to a minimum), starting off just using the spotted dice (since she could count the spots) and moving on to introduce the numbered dice so as to start the girl off with a countable quantity and then slowly introduce her to the symbols which represent those quantities. After concerted effort from the mum the girl ended up not only picking it up but she jumped up to be one of the best at maths in her class. The dice cost a total of 80p for the four of them. Very good value I’d say.

We also sell maths games , books and activity books which are great for specific tricky subjects but if you have the time and the energy you can get similar results with just a set of dice. So what am I trying to say? I suppose its this, when a kid has pocket money it’s for something fun and frivolous, educational toys etc. are the parent’s domain and they don’t have to be expensive. Logan (my oldest son) doesn’t get pocket money, instead he gets stickers then he gets to pick a toy of about £7-8 when he reaches 20 stickers, it can take him over a fortnight to collect up enough and at the end of that fortnight I seriously can’t imagine insisting that he buy something based solely on it’s educational merits. Those kind of resources are for me to get hold of.

Development is a tricky issue for parents: we all have our own idea of how to bring our kids along but along the way we have to sometimes let them buy what we might regard as nonsense. If they don’t get to be a bit silly as kids when will they?

Educational value

I’ve made the decision that this week (and possibly from now on) I’ll be doing a post on toys in general and then another about a specific toy that either of my sons (or I myself) enjoy. Hope this works, if people don’t like the new set-up let me know and I’ll go back to the normal of one a week.

Parents (and in this I’m really referring mostly to dads) occasionally go through a peculiar process of persuasion with their kids in the shop where the kid has picked a toy but the parent thinks a more expensive toy would be better value. To be honest there really isn’t anything wrong with this, provided they’re right about value and this is the odd bit because value is a slightly relative notion: e.g. a child who likes cars and doesn’t really play outdoors much is unlikely to play with a kite, regardless of the quality of the product (though of course there’s nothing wrong with showing them something new) so there’s little value to be had in getting him/her a kite.

The strangest value judgement by far is when parents assess value based on developmental contribution (that is allocating value based on how much the toy helps their child to develop). We parents can’t help but hear about the latest ideas about how to get our kids to reach their ‘potential’ but some parents allow this to steer all the decisions they make regarding their children. Some toy companies specialise in the kind of advertising which appeals to this mentality (leapfrog springs to mind) and though their toys may provide the developmental assistance advertised this doesn’t mean that other toys (which aren’t advertised in this way) can’t.

A bouncy ball can help hand eye coordination, any dice based board game can contribute to early numeracy, dolls and other character-based toys aid in language development and in social awareness (not to mention imagination), jigsaws stimulate the shape recognition capacities that will assist children in understanding further mathematical concepts which they will encounter later in their school career (and the same could be said of any construction toy), the list can go on and on. There isn’t a toy in the shop that I couldn’t describe in a way that points out some developmental benefit which it can provide.

Keeping this in mind then it seems odd to refuse the child a cheaper toy solely based on the fact that it’s seems less enabling of a child’s development. Of course if there’s some specific thing that the kid needs help with perhaps the parent will need to consider toys that might help them a bit but when the child is just looking to spend some holiday/pocket money it seems a bit of a shame to force them to spend their own money (as far as they are concerned) on something more ‘educational’. What better way to put a child off of something?

What’s more really good learning resources don’t have to cost a fortune. I remember a customer a while ago whose daughter was having problems with recognising numbers and with counting, what was worse was the girl had started to put up a block whenever her mother approached the subject with her. I suggested that she get some spotted dice and some number dice and try playing light hearted games with them (keeping talk of the numbers to a minimum), starting off just using the spotted dice (since she could count the spots) and moving on to introduce the numbered dice so as to start the girl off with a countable quantity and then slowly introduce her to the symbols which represent those quantities. After concerted effort from the mum the girl ended up not only picking it up but she jumped up to be one of the best at maths in her class. The dice cost a total of 80p for the four of them. Very good value I’d say.

We also sell maths games , books and activity books which are great for specific tricky subjects but if you have the time and the energy you can get similar results with just a set of dice. So what am I trying to say? I suppose its this, when a kid has pocket money it’s for something fun and frivolous, educational toys etc. are the parent’s domain and they don’t have to be expensive. Logan (my oldest son) doesn’t get pocket money, instead he gets stickers then he gets to pick a toy of about £7-8 when he reaches 20 stickers, it can take him over a fortnight to collect up enough and at the end of that fortnight I seriously can’t imagine insisting that he buy something based solely on it’s educational merits. Those kind of resources are for me to get hold of.

Development is a tricky issue for parents: we all have our own idea of how to bring our kids along but along the way we have to sometimes let them buy what we might regard as nonsense. If they don’t get to be a bit silly as kids when will they?