#1
Old 08-09-2002, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
Best toy for toys for tots?

Hi gang. I know it is early to talk of Christmas but...
Every year I spend quite a bit of money on the toys for tots campaign. I start now so that it isn't too big of a hit to my wallet all at once.

In the past, I have always gone for nice toys but inexpensive ones. For instance, KayBee always has Barbie on sale for between 5 and 10 dollars. I can often find very nice Teddy Bears for between 5 and 10 dollars. I can often find cars and trucks in that range too. I was trying to maximise the amount of toys.

However, recently a friend said something that got me thinking. We were talking about how we were poor growing up and how it would have been nice to, for just once, have the "in" thing. How it would be nice to be the kid who was the only one or one of the few to have the newest "fun" toy.

And now I'm torn. Dopers, what do you think? A bunch of regular toys like Barbie and cars, or a few expensive toys - the "in" thing. Also, if you feel the latter is better, what IS the new "in" thing?
#2
Old 08-09-2002, 05:44 PM
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Please consider getting the "in" thing for an older child, the teens of these families often are left with nothing, or age inappropriate gifts.
#3
Old 08-09-2002, 05:44 PM
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Location: Minnesota
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I've been wondering about this, too. Every year, we go to a Halloween party where the price of admission is a toy for Toys for Tots, so we start a bit early, too.

I prefer classic toys to the "in" thing in most cases, but do the parents who use these services feel the same? What about toys that "build" upon other toys--a video game cartridge is no good without the game machine, a pack of Pokemon cards isn't much good without other Pokemon cards, and a Lego set is much more fun if you have other sets to mix with it and build new things. Is there a lot of demand for such things?

Some of those "classic" toys are still pretty hot, like Barbies, for example. I usually get something that I think I would have liked when I was a kid.
#4
Old 08-09-2002, 05:55 PM
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I've been wondering about this, too. Every year, we go to a Halloween party where the price of admission is a toy for Toys for Tots, so we start a bit early, too.

I prefer classic toys to the "in" thing in most cases, but do the parents who use these services feel the same? What about toys that "build" upon other toys--a video game cartridge is no good without the game machine, a pack of Pokemon cards isn't much good without other Pokemon cards, and a Lego set is much more fun if you have other sets to mix with it and build new things. Is there a lot of demand for such things?

Some of those "classic" toys are still pretty hot, like Barbies, for example. I usually get something that I think I would have liked when I was a kid.
#5
Old 08-09-2002, 05:56 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: The Zen Arcade
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Please consider getting the "in" thing for an older child, the teens of these families often are left with nothing, or age inappropriate gifts.
#6
Old 08-09-2002, 06:34 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,758
Lego Lego LEGO!

Lego Technic for older kids.

IMHO it's the best toy for children of any age above about 3 (or as soon as you're confident they won't eat it and choke), but you do have to have a bit of a collection before it gets really fun and that can be expensive; I bought heaps of it by the kilo on ebay (plus a few smaller lots of speicalised pieces), washed it in warm water and laundry powder, rinsed and spread out on a towel to dry - good as new.

OK, second-hand isn't ideal for some kids, but if it's in good condition, there's no difference at all; it doesn't have a box, but you can build it into a massive house or something then wrap that up.
#7
Old 08-10-2002, 10:45 AM
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Last year my son and I helped pass out toys for the Toys for Tots program and we had tons of Barbie dolls and Matchbox cars, but there was very little for children over the age of 10. It was so bad that some of the kids were leaving empty handed, eventually some of us ran out to the store and got some curling irons and hair dryers for the girls and handheld games for the boys, so when buying for toys for tots, maybe you should try something for the older kids.
#8
Old 08-10-2002, 11:10 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
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I always get basketballs, I try to find a few on sale for <$10...both boys and girls of all ages could use them...

but I usually pick up a couple of cheap Barbies too.
#9
Old 08-10-2002, 08:16 PM
Kat Kat is offline
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I contributed to Toys for Tots last year for the first time*. I got a variety of toys, but I think they were all for young kids. I mentioned to a friend of mine that my fantasy would be to be able to afford to get a couple dozen Gameboys and some games for each one and put them in.

*It was the first year they'd had a drop-off point that was convenient for me. Previous years, I just picked up a few kids from the Angel Tree at the mall.
#10
Old 08-10-2002, 09:33 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: St. Louis, MO
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The age range for the program is up to 14 years old, and the gifts are sorted in general age groups so that teens don't get a beanie baby and a four year old doesn't get a monopoly game. But there is always a shortage of older age gifts. Cash donations are an option too as cash is used to fill in the blanks, which again is usually gifts of older kids.

It's always a tough call, because although the cool new stuff is awesome, I usually go with low to mid range cost things like board games, watches, jackets, the cheaper walkman type radios, things like that. I'd like to toss a walkman CD player in, but if a kid is getting a gift through the program, odds are they don't have the cash for CD's. (If you donate something that takes batteries, tape a supply of them to the gift... nothing sucks more than to get a cool present that you can't use). Plus I figure that for each really expensive cool thing I could donate to one kid, I could get 5 slightly less cool gifts that will make 5 kids happy.

Always a tough call but keep in mind that when you have nothing, something is often a wonderful thing. I've been there. Concentrate more on age groups rather than what is hip. There is always a shortage of stuff for kids over about 8, so if you can scare up 5 gifts, try to make at least 3 of them something geared for older kids. Little kids are easy, but for older kids, Xmas can be heartbreaking with an empty box. If you have the spare change, get one really good thing and a couple of smaller things.

Thanks for donating, BTW!!
#11
Old 08-11-2002, 02:02 AM
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Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
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I grew up with people who got gifts from these programs. I think the biggest thing to do is not buy junk. A lot of kids get presents that are obviously broken, from discount stores, or just plain cheap and they are smart enough to realize this. If you wouldn't buy it for your kid, don't buy it for somebody else's.

The best plan is to go for something reasonable. You don't have to buy the thirty dollar collectors edition barbie, but it'd probably be good to steer clear from the cheap plastic barbie-clone.

I always try to include a few books. Although they arn't exactly toys, for some kids they might be the only books they ever own.
#12
Old 08-11-2002, 09:16 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
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Quote:
[i]
I always try to include a few books. Although they arn't exactly toys, for some kids they might be the only books they ever own. [/B]
A few years back I bought several Harry Potter books. Our local branch of TFT explained that they were not "really" toys and therefore were difficult to give out. Since they aren't considered to be toys they don't "count" as a toy. However, if you give a child a toy AND a book, then you have given him more than the next child and shown favoritism. They told me that books just cause headaches for them. It is disappointing to me, since as a child I would have preferred a book to most toys, but I have abided by their wishes and stopped donating books.
#13
Old 08-11-2002, 11:59 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
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I used to have a tradition - every year I'd buy a starter train set like this. Unfortunately, even the basic sets started to get a bit pricey (the one in the link is $57) to continue.
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