TimeToPlayMag.com – Toy Reviews


I had the opportunity this week to have lunch with three of the people behind TimeToPlayMag.com: Chris Byrne, Jim Silver and Shannon Eis.

They were visiting Dallas for a toy show and invited bloggers and Website owners to meet them for lunch Dallas Market Center.

I enjoyed meeting them and hearing about their experiences in the toy business over the last 25-30 years.

During the lunch, one of my “hooray!!!” moments came when Jim mentioned that many toy manufacturers are doing away with those annoying plastic covered wire twists that secure products in their packaging. Those things that look like this:

The manufacturers use them to keep their products in tact during overseas transit, but they are extremely frustrating to the consumer. We will still see products that use these twist things, but hopefully over the next few years, more manufacturers will move to the hassle-free alternative.

I had to leave the lunch before it ended in order to pick up my daughter from school, so I missed some of the discussion. But just before I left, I asked for suggestions about toys and games for children without siblings.

Since my daughter is an only child, I was interested to hear what toys they thought would keep her occupied while I cook dinner or clean the house. I was also interested in hearing their suggestions for toys that might be fun for adults and children to play together.

There are some nights when the last thing I want to do after working all day is play with Polly Pockets, but I will sit and play cards or board games with my daughter. Obviously the answer to this question will vary by individual due to personal preferences, but I was curious to hear what they would say.

Chris suggested that my daughter create a play for her dolls or puppets to perform – either for me or with me, once I am finished cooking dinner, cleaning or whatever I need to do. I loved this idea! My daughter takes theater classes so she is familiar with the process and loves when we make up songs, dances, and stories together.

Chris also suggested either buying or making a small stage on which the dolls or puppets can perform. My daughter will spend hours drawing and doing crafts, so the idea of making the stage sounded like something that would appeal to her. We will get started this weekend by making a stage using a cardboard box. I see all sorts of creative possibilities with this suggestion. Thanks, Chris!

Have questions about toys? Contact TimeToPlayMag.com!

Chris and Jim have several decades’ worth of experience in the toy industry and are eager to share their knowledge with you. In addition to having a large selection of written and video reviews for toys, movies, books and video games on their Website, they also welcome questions from readers, so don’t hesitate to contact them!

Check out some of these areas of their Website:

Most Wanted List for 2010
Real Reviews (from parents whose kids tested products)
Video Reviews
Daily Giveaway

TimeToPlayMag.com - Chris and Jim at MomTV

You can also catch them live on MomTV every Friday at 12PM Eastern, or watch taped episodes.

At the end of the lunch, Chris handed me a bag of toys geared toward different age groups. I wasn’t expecting to get this, but I appreciated receiving it.

My daughter wanted to play with several of the toys, but we agreed that they will be donated to the 2011 Children and Arthritis Jambalaya Jubilee raffle in addition to any advertising dollars I make through my blog. Whoever wins these toys in the raffle will be thrilled!

A few quick tips from me for saving money on toys

There are many toys out there that are cheap, but aren’t worth buying. And then there are more expensive toys that will provide long-lasting value. How do you decide what to spend your money on? Here are some of the things I do when buying toys:

1. Shop the twice-a-year Target 75-90% off toy sale
Usually in January and July. I stock up on birthday presents for my daughter and her friends, as well as Christmas presents. Read some of my past Target toy sale posts: January 2009, July 2009 and July 2010.

2. Buy items that are durable and have a high resale value at kids’ consignment events like Just Between Friends
When I buy toys, I consider what the resale value might be. I am willing to spend more on a toy if I know it will:
– be fun for my daughter
– last until she outgrows it
– sell well at a consignment event.

Think LEGO, LEGO Duplo, Barbie, Leapster, Little Tikes, Step 2, Disney Princesses, etc.

3. Don’t rush to buy the hottest new toy that your child asks for.
My daughter wanted Bendaroos for several months (thanks to one of the few commercials she saw), but I didn’t want to spend $19.99. I eventually found them on clearance at CVS for $4.99, but I don’t think they’re even worth that much. They caused my daughter (and me!) a lot of frustration and I’m glad I didn’t spend full retail for them.

4. Check the Public Library First and “Try Before You Buy”
Before I buy a DVD, book or video game, I check my public library’s Website to see if I can borrow it first. The Dallas Public Library allows you to search the entire system and request the item be delivered to the library nearest to you. It is very convenient!

5. Set up “Deal Alerts”
Many sites like Slickdeals.net allow you to set up deal alerts. Whenever someone spots a deal on a certain toy, you will receive an email so you can try to take advantage of the deal. This is how I got my daughter the Leapster 2 in November 2009.

6. Follow Toy Stores and Toy Companies on Facebook and Twitter
Last year, I noticed on Facebook that Toys R Us was going to sell a limited number of Zhu Zhu pets in their stores starting at 6AM the following morning. I decided to go and found there were hardly any people waiting in line! I got the Zhu Zhu pet at regular retail price, while many people were paying crazy prices on Ebay to get one of the hotest toys for Christmas 2009. I would never have paid more than retail for the Zhu Zhu pet (or any toy for that matter), but I liked the challenge of trying to get this sold out toy at the regular price (I did the same thing for the Wii a few years ago – silly, I know!).

Also, some toy manufacturers offer printable coupons on Coupons.com (Leapster and Hasbro, for example), so be sure to look for them. I have gotten some cheap toys using these printable coupons during store sales or by finding the product on clearance.

How do you save money on toys?

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