Author Topic: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?  (Read 6661 times)

ejh

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Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« on: October 31, 2016, 03:01:09 AM »
Hey,

We have 2 young girls, aged 2.5 & 1.5. We plan to have more (4 or 5 is the current plan).
Since they were born, my wife and I have gone through a process of understanding which toys/games are actually worth having and which are useless pieces of junk.
It took some time, but we've come to the conclusion that toys which require creating, building or imagining things are worth having,
as well as toys which require cooperation and playing together with the family.
We're slowly trying to trim down on the huge pile of irrelevant stuff we bought or got as gifts and I feel we're in the right direction.
Of course having toys at home doesn't replace taking them outside to play, take walks with them in the park, get them out to nature, go to the library, etc.
We try to do that as much as we can, but obviously some of the time is dedicated to playing at home with toys.

One issue I'm struggling with is the fact that many brand/quality toys are very expensive.
Take for example these Magna Tiles https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CBSNRY/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1.
These are considered top of the line and many parents have told me they last forever - very durable and kids play with them almost every day.
The other option is to get a cheaper brand or knockoff "Chinese" brand (I say "Chinese" because many time the brand names are manufactured in China anyway).

I'd be happy to hear your thoughts and considerations on this. Is quality worth paying for in this case?


MayDay

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 04:05:01 AM »
We have magnatiles. They are the single most played with toy in our house. We have 2 100 piece sets and a 35 piece set. Kids got them around ages 3 and 5 and 4 years later they are still played with near daily. The other toy I can say that about is Duplos.

That said we've never seen or played with the knock offs so I don't know how they compare.

ejh

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2016, 04:25:36 AM »
We have magnatiles. They are the single most played with toy in our house. We have 2 100 piece sets and a 35 piece set. Kids got them around ages 3 and 5 and 4 years later they are still played with near daily. The other toy I can say that about is Duplos.

That said we've never seen or played with the knock offs so I don't know how they compare.

Thanks for the info! I've heard the same from many parents saying that kids play with them daily for years and years.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2016, 04:50:59 AM »
I pay for quality here. Hape, Lego, and Brio simply work better, which makes it easier for the child to get engaged and creative. When things don't fit together right without perfect adjustment, kids will give up because they aren't good enough with their hands to make it work.

We had a awful marble run that had inconsistent sizes and just was never quite right. It's gone now.

havregryn

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2016, 04:53:12 AM »
Recently now that our kid is turning three I bought him some knock off legos on Aliexpress. They seem to be exactly the same as legit legos, I have no idea how you'd tell the difference from just seeing them out of the box.

For smaller kids that put toys in their mouths or can choke on small parts etc I was a bit afraid to risk Chinese product safety standards...so until age 3 I try to buy a few but fancy toys made in the EU. After age 3 I'm no longer convinced that it is worth the price difference so now I buy most of his toys there. Also, Ikea has nice cheap toys for all ages.

Joy

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2016, 05:20:06 AM »
We have a set of magnatiles and a set of Picasso tiles (a knockoff brand). They are awesome and totally worth the investment. The sets have been mixed together and played with frequently for two years. We can tell no difference between the two. They work great. I would go with the Picasso tiles if I was ordering more.

CarrieWillard

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2016, 05:26:51 AM »
How about get the high-quality toys used?

I find that LEGO knockoffs break easily, creating sharp edges. They also don't "click" together as well. LEGO holds their value, you can sell them for nearly retail on eBay when your kid goes to college.

Wooden blocks seem to last forever but I've gotten all of mine used. Yard sales in the McMansion neighborhoods are great for high-quality wooden kid toys.


Dee18

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2016, 05:57:04 AM »
FYI:
"All Valtech LLC products are made in China and Thailand and are EN71, ASTM, and CPSIA approved."

Northern gal

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2016, 06:09:42 AM »
Have you considered buying second hand Originals?
I'd be too worried about toxins, safety etc to buy knock offs

ejh

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2016, 06:31:43 AM »
How about get the high-quality toys used?

I'm a big fan of used stuff, but these MagnaTiles seem to be something people don't get rid of. I couldn't find any listings.
Everyone claims kids play with them for years, so that might be why.

Yard sales aren't so common here in Israel where I live either.
People are big on selling through Facebook, but that means going to pick up something specific as opposed to looking through items and finding a good deal.


I'm a red panda

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2016, 06:57:09 AM »
For Duplo size legos- we like Big Briks by Strictly Briks. Have been very happy with their quality.

If you get into American Girl: the dolls can easily be found used. They hold their value, so not super cheap, but you save quite a bit.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2016, 08:19:31 AM »
I pay for quality here. Hape, Lego, and Brio simply work better, which makes it easier for the child to get engaged and creative. When things don't fit together right without perfect adjustment, kids will give up because they aren't good enough with their hands to make it work.

We had a awful marble run that had inconsistent sizes and just was never quite right. It's gone now.

Brio is the big one for me. My 4 y/o plays with my trains from 25 years ago, and they're basically like new. No paint chips, nothing falling off, perfect.

We bought a train table that came with third-party track a few years ago, and I can't stand it. The track never fits together right. I can tell the difference between Brio and the knockoff just by touching it or looking at it.

Kitsune

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2016, 09:39:33 AM »
Around here, we mostly pay for (and also have friends/parents who give) quality, and always limit quantity. :)

Practically speaking: , it's lego, brio, wood blocks, Corolle dolls, hand-made doll cribs, Learning Toys play food for the play kitchen (and a Little Tikes kitchen), etc.

This means that the toddler currently has a play kitchen and basket of play food, a crib and 2 dolls, a basket of blocks and handmade wood cars that she LOVES, and a basket of 'everything else' (stuffed animals, single-use toys, etc), and a few shelves of books. C'est tout. The toys LAST, promote open-ended play, and aren't plentiful enough to create a carpet of barely-played-with toys that parents have to pick up. And because they're in toddler-sized basket (the 1-foot-square ones from Ikea), you can set a rule that is 'one basket out at a time, things go back in the basket before another one comes out', which limits clutter.

And then the outdoor toys: sandbox, sleds, skates... y'know. Canadian standards. ;)

Personally, I have NO patience with toys that break and leave clutter and get taken out and played with for 5 minutes and thrown aside. I don't like waste or clutter. This system works for us (and we live in the middle of nowhere, a 20-minute drive from the local library, so... we're not spoiled with alternate options. What we have is sufficient.).

If anyone is curious: my mother got the 1-2-3 Playmobil house/farm/train for my sister when she was 2... so 24 years ago. They look brand new, the plastic hasn't discolored one bit, and my daughter plays with those every time we go to my mom's house. They've held up to 4 kids and look brand new. THAT is why we buy quality.

ejh

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2016, 10:04:34 AM »
If anyone is curious: my mother got the 1-2-3 Playmobil house/farm/train for my sister when she was 2... so 24 years ago. They look brand new, the plastic hasn't discolored one bit, and my daughter plays with those every time we go to my mom's house. They've held up to 4 kids and look brand new. THAT is why we buy quality.

Love it! This is really how I view things, and I'm trying to get my wife into this mentality as well, which is really a long process.
But every once in a while she says something that shows me how much she's changed. There is still a long way to go though.

Thanks for sharing.

catccc

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2016, 11:09:04 AM »
I split a 100 piece set of magnatiles with a friend.  Learning Express (I believe this is a chain) had a 20% off coupon.  It's usually $120 for a 100 piece set, so after the coupon my friend and I paid $48 each.  50 pieces is actually a decent number of magnatiles with which to play, I think.

My kids do love playing with them, it's probably one of the most used toys in the house.  And they do seem virtually indestructible!

Resale value on them is great, so I say just find a coupon and buy new.  You could probably craigslist or FB yardsale 1/2 of the 100 pack to lower your cost if you can't find a friend that wants to split them.

My kids love the one playmobil thing they have - a school set.  But all the little pieces drive me crazy!

Cranky

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2016, 11:58:03 AM »
I would say quality, but then don't buy too much of anything.

And it's going to depend on the kid; my girls honestly did not love legos. However, they put thousands of hours into the Brio trains, the FP people, little plastic animals, and a giant set of wooden blocks. The Brios have moved on to the next generation at this point.

FLBiker

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2016, 12:02:04 PM »
Thanks for the magnatiles mention.  I've got a 1.5 year old, and I'll definitely save those for later.

We opt for quality, but get a lot of stuff secondhand at consignment sales.  We also don't have a lot of toys (by American standards).  Hape, Duplo, Plan Toys, those have been some favorites.

Carrie

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2016, 12:07:34 PM »
Picasso tiles are fine, still not cheap, but cheaper than magna tiles.  Don't buy near Christmas,  the price is jacked way up then.

We've gone to only buying STEM toys. No plastic crap, nothing that talks/makes noise. we want our kids to use their imagination and not provide toys that dictate the play. 

Incidentally,  my 4 yo favorite thing ever us a bunch of fabric scraps (free fom my hobby). 

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2016, 12:34:35 PM »
Now that my guys are 15 and 12, I can say that we bought them way too many different toys. But they both still play with the Lego and they won't part with it. 
A really good ride on toy is also great to have and they get used and used and fought over so you may have to buy one for each.  We did so that they could play cooperatively.  It just seemed easier when one of them wasn't developmentally ready to learn to share.
My boy had a giant sand box and played in it endlessly.  We removed a paver area and re-purposed the huge amounts of sand into a crash pad around the play structure and he played there every day for hours for many summers.  My daughter didn't use the sand box as much.  We added a chin up type bar under the play structure because he was using doors to build his upper body strength.  I was worried that he was going to pull a door off so we gave him a place to hang from.  I noticed that almost every kid liked to try it out.  Maybe newer play structures come with these now but ours only had a slide and ladder.
The other best play thing was our rope - a single rope hanging from a tree limb. The arborist attached it when he was doing some high altitude pruning.  It cost $22 bucks for the rope, the arborist was in the tree already and every kid loved it.  No tire just a big knot on the end.  It was pretty dangerous because many of the kids that visited us didn't know to hang on and would just let go.  Fortunately no one was seriously hurt or fell off twice.
The other toy that was used and used was the fake plastic food and the miniature kitchen by Little Tykes.  I would not have known that fake fruits and vegetables had so much play value but they were a hit in our house.  We also had a metal tea set in a little suit case.  Hours of play until we used it in the ocean.  Once it was rusty she didn't like it as much but maybe she was also growing out of it.  It was more appealing than the sturdy plastic dishes for some reason.

Jusight78

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2019, 04:50:52 AM »
We also have 2 girls - 2 and 4 years old. My husband and I decided to buy them children play kitchen http://jonsguide.org/best-play-kitchen-reviews/ and we never regretted. The 2 chefs love the set we purchased them and enjoy cooking on it.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2019, 08:01:36 AM »
I faced the exact dilemma you faced, and ultimately found the MagnaTiles on sale for almost the price of Picasso Tiles.  I decided to go with the MagnaTiles because I was worried about them keeping the magnets inside the tiles and safety.  But we have friends who have Picasso Tiles and they seem to have held up really well.  Target does a big toy discount sometime in November, that's when we bought ours.

We buy very few toys, but try for quality.  Our kids are 4.5 and 2.5 and we've found they are satisfied with way less than the conventional wisdom would lead us to believe.  We also try to buy used.  Our only ride-on toy is a Wheely Bug, which is super high quality and also $$$, but we got it at a consignment store for $6.  If you familiarize yourself with what are good quality toys, you can snap them up when they become available used.

Between grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, our kids still have way too many toys, and not all of them are high quality.  And that's okay - moderation in all things.  For some reason the favorite bath toy right now is a Happy Meal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  It makes them so happy lol, who I am to take that away?

Spiffy

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2019, 09:26:10 AM »
My kids loved playing in a sandbox, but I hated trying to get sand off of them and out of shoes, so I made a rice box. Bonus that you can play with it inside, too, if you have sort of careful children. Take a shallow, large plastic box with lid (like under bed storage boxes) and fill with a huge bag of rice, the kind from Sam's club. Then add funnels, measuring cups and things to bury.  I went the extra mile and dyed about half of the rice with food coloring mixed with alcohol. It made the rice look pretty. My kids played with that thing for years.

socaso

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2019, 11:44:06 AM »
The name brands do hold their value. When we looked at used sets of Legos people wanted a good amount of money for them. So it's worth it to buy quality in terms of resale value. Also, lego has a recycling program if you feel like donating later: https://www.lego.com/en-us/service/help/bricks-building/brick-facts/recycling-lego-pieces-warehouse-recycling-408100000008418

We did buy generic when we assembled a lego table for our kid. The name brand tables were SO expensive so we found 1' square sheets on Amazon for under $20 and bought a cheap side table from Ikea and glued them on. It has worked just fine for a couple of years now and our kid plays with it all the time. I think if we ever need to get rid of it we can probably sell it.

BeanCounter

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2019, 12:31:45 PM »
You really need very few toys, and honestly for a short amount of time. My boys are 7 and 10 now and they play with very few things at this point. It's all sports and video games now. The things that were worth the purchase for us-

-Bought a used Brio train table with tracks and trains from a neighborhood FB group, used it for three years and then resold it.
-BIG preschool grade wood unit blocks. You really need to get them from a preschool supplier. We bought two sets from Lakeshore for a black Friday sale they were doing for our oldests first birthday when they did a BOGOHO. Worth every penny, I'll probably keep them forever.
-Plastic animals/dinosaurs- go well with blocks and train set
-hot wheels- also goes well with the blocks and as they get older you can get the track pieces which if you have enough to really set up some fun tracks can provide hours of fun- but just buy the basic tracks not all the crappy add-ons because they break
-Legos- (they still play with these)
-books/puzzles/games
-a kickball

Seriously, that's it. My family has given them so much crap with batteries and NONE of it ever gets played with.
I do think that the name brand stuff is worth it.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Children toys - Pay for quality, or get a cheap knockoff?
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2019, 12:51:06 PM »
I passed on my LEGOs that I played with as a kid to my kids. Those are now 30+ years old and mostly in good shape. Some of the arms on the mini-figures no longer stay in the up position but that's about it. Otherwise they're still perfectly good and have provided innumerable hours of play for all of our kids.

Good wooden blocks (we got some from Melissa and Doug) are another timeless classic toy. Nice soft wood that doesn't splinter with good rounded edges and very flat surfaces.