Pricey presents: Top toys have parents choosing gifts carefully

The Playmobil Research Submarine is on the Canadian Toy Testing Council's list for kids aged four-years and up. It retails at about $50. Photo: Paul Moore

By Paul Moore

The holidays may be weeks away, but Janice Mones has already made her shopping list and checked it twice.

She spent part of Monday evening in the Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, looking for presents to buy for her son, eight, and daughter, six.

“I’m trying to get all my shopping done early this year,” she said with a smile.

Mones, who works at a local grocery store, has also set a Christmas budget.

“It’s a little tighter this year,” she said. “It’s not as though we’re not going to get the kids any presents. Christmas is still going to come at our house … I’m just thinking a little more about how much I spend.”

Many of this year’s top toys aren’t cheap. The Canadian Toy Testing Council released its annual toy report on Monday. About 1,000 children spent weeks testing the toys in the guide, which is supposed to help parents decide what to put under the tree.

Money, however, was not a factor in determining which toys the council recommended.

The LEGO Turbo Track Racer, for example, won the “Best Bets” award for children between the ages seven and 12 and retails at about $50. Costing about $45, the Wedgits Starter Activity Tote took the prize for children two years and older. For kids 10 and up, the council recommends Monopoly City 3D, which costs about $40.

“We are basing the toy on … what the kids thought of the toy. And the kids never consider the price,” said council spokesperson Angela Britten.

Erica, assistant manager at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s toy store in the Glebe, said many parents are thinking about the price of the toys they buy this year. She said the store has “gotten insane” with customers in the past week or so. But even though the big-ticket items are still selling well, she said people are being careful not to overspend.

“I think people have been planning on Christmas and saving up for the big items,” she said. “[Customers] have been saying ‘When is that going to go on sale?’ We get questions like that all the time.”

But the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s Angela Britten notes that parents can still find popular toys at reasonable prices.

“We notice every year on the top toys that we always have some toys that aren’t expensive. [Those toys] just get down to the basic play,” she said.

Those are the kind of toys Janice Mones is looking for. As she browsed from store to store, Mones said she expects the holidays to be just as festive and fun as ever, even though she is spending less.

“Christmas is supposed to be about family and friends, not big expensive presents,” she said.

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