Parents Are Up to Their Own Devices After Toy-Testing Group Shuts Down

This is a real thing:

A volunteer organization that for decades has given countless parents independent advice on which toys are the best for their children is closing its doors.

The Canadian Toy Testing Council says it will no longer operate, effective the end of June.

For decades, the council has issued an annual Toy Report, ranking playthings and books by age group for their durability, safety and ability to capture a child’s imagination.

The CTTC enlisted volunteer families each year to test hundreds of items, from traditional board games to electronic toys.

Under the program, children would take the toys into their homes for six to 12 weeks.

The toys were then rated based on safety, durability, design, function and play value.

Under financial pressure for years, the council’s board of directors voted last month to cease operations following an exhaustive, but vain, search for new sponsors.

First of all, small babies will play with wrapping paper and boxes. I’ve seen them do it. Save one’s money and buy some brightly-coloured wrapping paper for your infant next Christmas.

Secondly, kids mimic adults which is why one catches them playing with dad’s keys and mum’s shoes. Why give them toys that have bells and whistles but zero imagination?

Thirdly, it seems the Chinese won’t even buy the toys they make for North American kids:

When freelance writer Wang Jian shops for toys for her 5-year-old son, she’s happy to pay extra for Legos blocks and Japanese-brand train sets.

The reason, she and other parents say: Foreign brands enjoy a reputation for higher quality — a perception reinforced by the product scares of recent months.

“We pay close attention to the news about toy and food safety. If I find a problem with a certain brand, I will just stop using it for sure,” said Wang, who writes for film magazines.

China may be Santa’s global workshop, but when it comes to buying playthings for their own children, Chinese families who can afford it opt for foreign-brand toys — even if they are made in China.

Quality and safety issues are drawing more attention as incomes rise and upwardly mobile Chinese grow more health conscious. While virtually all toys on the market, whether foreign or domestic brands, are made in China, factories making foreign brands are assumed to abide by more rigorous standards to screen out lead paint and other harmful materials.

“I dare not buy cheap wooden toys or toys with paint,” said Lin Yan, a professor at Shanghai International Studies University, whose 7-year-old daughter tested for elevated levels of lead in her blood.

“I have a stupid standard: I buy her expensive toys in big department stores. I can only assume most of the expensive ones are foreign brands and are guaranteed to have better quality,” said Lin.

So what the hell are people getting for their kids anyway?