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If you dislike character toys

(48 Posts)
nappyaddict Mon 22-Aug-11 16:26:06

Is it because of the extra expense (I have seen quite a lot of stuff that isn't really any more expensive than non-character toys especially when it is on offer or if you buy it second hand)

Is it because of the marketing aimed at children (aren't all toys marketed at children if they are on TV adverts etc?)

Or some other reason?

mamsnet Mon 22-Aug-11 17:58:47

Excuse the brevity but I only have a few mins and my connection is terrible..

For all the reasons you stated.. And

- the quality is often crap

-I think they are often rather silly in their characterisation.

Most importantly- I think that the games they lead to are often very limited. IMO children are more inventive when they are the ones deciding who the figure represents and not when they are presented with Peppa Pig or whoever, whose life is well known and handed to them on a plate.

Obviously that is my experience, but my children are currently making the most complicated scene with a tractor, a Lego base, a pirate ship and a teddy.. grin

caughtinanet Mon 22-Aug-11 18:03:18

That's an interesting question - I really don't like character toys but I can't put my finger on exactly why I dislike them. It is partly the cost but even if two items were the same price I would buy the non character one.

I think it may be something with not being keen on "obsessions" by which I mean a child who has to have everything with the same character on.

scrappydappydoo Mon 22-Aug-11 18:08:10

I think its because they won't last as long - as my previously peppa-mad 5 yr ol dd now says 'peppa is for babies' however she will play with happyland because she doesn't associate with a 'baby' programme. We are moving onto playmobil now though... It is for this reason we have gone with genric pink in her room as opposed to the much wanted disney princess theme.

AuntieMonica Mon 22-Aug-11 18:08:53

i dislike character toys because often they have no character!

what i mean is, play is often very limited to copying what DCs have seen that character on TV do, some of them don't give way to much expansion.

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 22-Aug-11 18:14:02

Because they limit imaginative play (as mamsnet and AuntieMonica have said) and because they make it very clear that the TV programme is just a great big extended advertisement for the toy range. The DCs tend to watch non-commercial channels or I fast-forward through the ads on Sky+, but with character toys it's the programme itself that's the ad.

The DCs do still have them, though.

BertieBotts Mon 22-Aug-11 18:27:19

I agree about being limiting and sometimes low quality. And also, this probably will sound snobby, but I don't generally like character stuff because it looks tacky. Some of it is okay - ITNG, Mr Men and Peppa Pig seem to have less gaudy examples, but things like Thomas, Cars, Fifi, always seem to look tacky.

And books which are TV tie-ins are usually beyond awful.

nappyaddict Thu 25-Aug-11 01:43:43

I see what some of you mean about the programme being one great big extended TV ad.

Does that mean you avoid EVERYTHING with characters on, even if the non-character version is more expensive? For example in Home Bargains, Thomas and ITNG children's toothpaste is cheaper than the other brand they sell (I think it's colgate).

Those of you that say it limits play, if for some reason they were cheaper to non-character items would you buy non-toy character items? Such as any of the following: toiletries, towels, flannels, bedroom sets, furniture, storage units/boxes, dressing gowns, pjs, socks, pants, vests, hat, gloves, scarf, sunglasses, belt, raincoats, wellies, umbrellas, luggage/bags, lunchbox/bag, flask, trainers, slippers, sandals, swimwear, goggles, armbands, fish tank, stationary, books, DVDs, CDs, stickers, torch, nightlight, bike/scooter/trike, ball, paddling pool, bouncy castle.

Bertie You raise an interesting point about books.

Will any of you buy character items that have been based on books like The Hungry Caterpillar, The Enourmous Crocodile, The Gruffalo, Cat in the Hat, Horrid Henry, or based on comics like Spiderman, Batman, Superman, X-men, The Hulk, Iron Man, Dennis The Menace etc.

Will any of you buy character books? What about books that were written before the TV show like Thomas the Tank Engine and Horrid Henry.

2kidsintow Thu 25-Aug-11 12:29:23

I don't mind character toys too much. One of my DDs doesn't like them though, and specifically avoids them.

The irritating thing I find is that it can limit the age range on the toy. Once my DD decided she was too old for anything HSM, she would no longer play with the toy. My other DD also asks for things she already has "Because THIS one has Hannah Montana on it!"

pictish Thu 25-Aug-11 12:32:59

Hate them.

I hate telly related merchandising all round.

notcitrus Thu 25-Aug-11 12:58:05

WHat I've found amazing is how fond ds and dn get of characters even when they've never seen the TV series, in particular ds and Thomas that Bloody Tank Engine.
He has no idea they've ever been on TV, but fell in love with a Count To 10 With THomas book, acquired a couple small Thomas toys, and now is really into trains, track, Duplo, etc. On the plus side, Thomas pants convinced him to get potty trained, and he can be convinced to go somewhere or eat stuff if a train does it first...

I think toys with characters are OK in moderation and when the toy isn't just a model but has a function, like a train with wheels, a Gruffalo jigsaw, or an Igglepiggle book. They do seem to really appreciate seeing stuff that relates to the world they know about - which doesn't happen often when you're 2 or 3!

It would be nice though to have more stuff available without characters especially for ages above Thomas. I got a Thomas potty because it was that or a pink Peppa Pig one in Mothercare. I have no idea who/what Ben10 is but all the older boys' stuff in the shops is covered in it and it's really ugly!

olibeansmummy Thu 25-Aug-11 13:45:41

I dislike the lack of choice of non-character stuff. If you look through the Argos catalogue it's page after page of toys related to tv shows and very little else. That said ds goes mad for toy story/ cars/ peppa stuff so I guess they're catering for the market. He's only 2.3 so I suspect it'll get worse too! I hate Ben 10 most of all for older boys as it's so ugly!

I tend not to buy character clothes unless it's something ds asks for because I don't like the look and they are more expensive.

I do like some book character stuff like toy hungry caterpillars and gruffalos to act out the book but lots of merchandise isn't necessary.

olibeansmummy Thu 25-Aug-11 18:04:36

Oh yes I also dislike that character toys/ accessories are usually aimed at boys OR girls. Ds loves peppa ( not George) but all peppa things are very girly and all boy things have George on. And he loves dora but again everything is very girly and Dora isn't even a stereotypically girl's programme angry

vesela Thu 25-Aug-11 20:32:59

If DD is very fond of a particular character, and I'm fond of them too, I don't mind having them about here and there. We have a fair few random things with Charlie and Lola on, and DD had a Thomas the TE potty and coolbag (actually I bought that for myself - it was the only small coolbag I could find at the time, and the alternative was some pink thing) and some little Thomas trains which fit with the rest of her train set. She likes trains, and we have the original Thomas the TE books.

Re. limiting play - Charlie, Lola, Lotta and Marv were her first imaginary friends, but they were pretty much their own people, although the games did have a constant theme of birthday parties. My imaginary friends were first Alice in Wonderland and then Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (the book) The Alice games (when I was four) always had to be JUST LIKE THE BOOK, but by the time I got to Dorothy, two years later, she didn't particularly behave like Dorothy - she was just a cool little girl who I'd happened to particularly relate to.

AngelDog Fri 26-Aug-11 00:13:39

What other people said about limiting play, and I don't like how they tie children in to consumer culture ('Collect them all!' it said on the back of one Thomas toy we were given. I want my DS to be playing, not collecting).

DS is only 19 months though so it's easy to avoid things at the moment. I charity shop / bin any character stuff we're given.

I definitely would buy non-character stuff even if the character stuff was cheaper, as I care more about the principle <PFB> than saving a few pennies. (FWIW, we are on a very tight budget.) Basically if it's got a character on it, I wouldn't buy it.

I would buy books which were the original for character series e.g. the original Winnie the Pooh, the original Thomas the Tank Engine series etc, but not the commercial spin-offs, which (as Bertie says) are often just rubbish.

Sue Palmer's book Toxic Childhood has a chapter on this sort of thing and she talks about how children develop an emotional attachment to the character which in some cases is even stronger than their emotional attachment to close family & friends. sad Which of course is a marketer's dream.


Message withdrawn

nappyaddict Mon 29-Aug-11 22:59:18

AngelDog So do you avoid all character things or is there anything in the non-toy list I wrote above that you would get?

Would you buy the old fashioned winnie the pooh toys like this?

Also what about things like Forever Friends and Me To You bears that are often in card shops?

Dialsmavis Tue 30-Aug-11 00:53:47

I hate character things and T.V merchandise in general but I am a 30 year old woman so not the intended demographic. My children however love all that shitey plasticy rubbish and their toys and belongings are primarily to bring them pleasure. I don't buy hideous nasty character clothing but allow pants, socks and PJs. If they ask for things for Christmas/Birthday etc then if we can afford it they get it. DS knows what we can realistically provide and doesn't ask for outrageous items. But if I am buying something for them because iIchoose to then I do't generally choose that sort of thing. My Mum hates the things that I like, surely that is natural? If my child had a stronger emotional attachment to a stupid character than their own family then I would look at myself and much wider issues than Pepper arsing pig TBH.

GwendolineMaryLacey Tue 30-Aug-11 01:36:08

I detested character stuff pre-dd, was very snotty about it, would never darken my door etc. But I quickly learnt that it's not really a question of whether I like it, it's not aimed at me. I still have issues with Barbie and Bratz but dd is a long way off those yet. If she wants a top with Upsy Daisy on though and I'm in the market to buy a top, what sort of misery would I be to deliberately not buy it? They're fractionally more expensive and not always that.

I agree about the character split though. dd would have loved an Igglepiggle top old Bob the Builder and I've bought boy's stuff in the paast to get that.

nappyaddict Mon 19-Sep-11 15:47:51

People that object to marketing aimed at children does that mean you don't buy any toys that are advertised on TV during the ad-breaks such as things like hot wheel cars, Fur-real toys, board games etc.

PeppaPigandGeorge Mon 19-Sep-11 15:59:20

I hate all slogan items; clothes, toys, all of it.

I think it is COMPLETELY wrong to say non-character stuff is cheaper. It is generally better quality and more expensive. Character stuff is cheap and nasty, in terms of price and quality.

We have some character stuff, but only flannels and a couple of pairs of pyjamas. Certainly not toothpaste or daytime clothes!!

I am happy with character books, as long as the book came first and is not a TV tie-in. Not because I object to TV, but because then the books are proper stories as opposed to nonsense with the character wedged in. The Little Princess books, for example.

Mine don't watch much TV but when they do it's cbeebies or a DVD, so no adverts. We have Peppa and the Little Princess on DVD, so no watching channel 5.

AngelDog Mon 19-Sep-11 22:53:23

Yes, I reckon I probably would avoid all character stuff in the non-toy list you gave. I think we do have a toy tractor which is a character from something, but I don't know what it's from. <naive>

The old-fashioned toys are a bit better, but I'd probably still avoid them as it's the marketing to create brand loyalty that I object to.

It does depend, though - my PiLs gave DS a toy Peter Rabbit, so we've kept that in case they got offended. (As it happens, DS couldn't have cared less about it. We just called it 'the rabbit'.) Things that more distant family members have given have been passed on though. We do ask immediate family to give him non-character stuff though when they ask for suggestions for presents.

DS actually loves seeing Thomas the Tank Engine - he's seen a few books etc, but we just call it 'the blue train'. He loves it because he's obsessed by trains of all sorts though, not because he's into Thomas more than any others.

We don't have a television so advertising there isn't an issue for us at the moment.

The Forever Friends and Me to You stuff etc is sickeningly cutsie-bleurgh so I'd steer well clear of that for those reasons! wink

My main objection is to marketing practices that try to lock children into a cycle of consumerism, or that rely on 'pester power' in order to get parents to spend their money.

However, I'll freely admit that (a) I'm a snob and (b) there's a strong likelihood that I'll change my practice, if not my opinions, at some point in the future.

It's easy for us to control the character stuff that DS is exposed to - he doesn't go to nursery, isn't interested in other children, let alone their opinions, and is wary of adults other than his parents and grandmothers. When he gets older and wants to do things differently from us we'll have to rethink how we do things, I expect.

Toxic Childhood (or any of Sue Palmer's other books) are well worth reading on the issue IMO.

TastyMuffins Mon 19-Sep-11 23:00:33

I told my DS I would not buy Bob the Builder yoghurt because Bob was a Builder and knew nothing about yoghurt so how could we expect it to be any good? He was satisfied with that answer.

AngelDog Mon 19-Sep-11 23:08:20

Exactly. What can a Bob the Builder character add to yoghurt? Food is something I buy because it (a) tastes nice or (b) it tastes okay and is particularly good for you. I can't see how adding Bob would help advance either of those aims. It just teaches children that food isn't actually about food, it's about having the latest brand.

<notes down cunning reply for future reference>

nappyaddict Tue 20-Sep-11 09:32:32

Thanks for your comments AngelDog

So you would have avoided buying Beatrix Potter character toys, but because the grandparents bought it you decided to keep it?

Would you buy the Beatrix Potter books?

Would you also avoid buying things associated with characters from books like The Hungry Caterpillar, The Enourmous Crocodile, The Gruffalo, Cat in the Hat, Horrid Henry, or based on comics like Spiderman, Batman, Superman, X-men, The Hulk, Iron Man, Dennis The Menace etc. Would you buy the books or comics themselves?

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