Something just doesn’t add up. At the 2012 International Toy Fair there were over 100,000 toys on display. Clearly we have had no shortage of toys in 2012. With today’s technology, everyone can be a publisher and with a few clicks share their views with the world. Type “product review bloggers” into Google and you get over 23 million results. So with an incredible amount of toys and an equally incredible amount of people and technology to review all these toys, 2012 marked a banner year for honest toys reviews…right? Wrong! Time to look inside the blogging and toy world and figure out what went wrong.
Most Toy Reviews Skip Step 1
As a Dad who has built countless Lego sets, I know first hand how important it is to get Step 1 right. You can do the other 100 steps in a Lego creation to perfection, but screw up step 1 and you are in for a world of hurt. The same holds true for doing honest and helpful toys reviews, you need to get step 1 right.
What is Step 1? Playing with the toy. I know, you are now screaming at your computer screen, wondering how anyone could screw up that step. After all, how do you play with a toy wrong? Oh wise warrior, you assume too much – you simply play with a toy wrong, when you don’t play with a toy at all! Yes, we are letting the cat out of the bag, many bloggers and news sites never play with the toys they review.
Playing With Toys Takes Time…And Really Who Has Time for Time Anymore?
Shortly we will be picking our Top Toys of 2012 (and 2013). The process for this started back in February when we attended the International Toy Fair, searching out fun looking toys. We made lists of potential top toys and over the next 6 months followed-up with toy companies and PR firms to try to get our hands on samples or figure out when the toys would be out so we could purchase them for review.
Once we do get the toys, we do full reviews – we play with them, the kids play with them and we see how they hold up, both in terms of play value and quality. We have produced over 200 hands-on toy videos on our YouTube Channel and thrilled that over 3 million people have watched our reviews. We say none of this to brag or complain, we love playing with toys and we believed there was no other way to review toys.
Of course, there is another way to write toy reviews and it is much faster and easier – write toy reviews based on press releases. If I had a nickle for every press release we got swearing that “this toy” was revolutionary and going to be the hot holiday toy, I would have enough money to buy a solid gold piggy bank to hold all my extra nickles. Writing a review from a press release is fast, easy, cost nothing…and completely useless to parents.
Alert: We have now completed our Guide to The Best Toys of 2012 – have a look! If you are reading this before 11/30/12, you can WIN the best toys of the year – $1,400 in Toys, 25 Winners – click here for full details!
Why The Economics of Toy Reviews Don’t Make Sense
Don’t blame the bloggers, writers and editors…the economics made them do it! In today’s online world, people want their information short, fast and free. No consumer wants to pay to read reviews, so publishers need to pump out more pages. The more pages you can pump out, the more ads you can show. Get your review up before the competition and move on.
The internet is now filled with sites and blogs that take a press release, throw a funny headline on it and spit it back out as a review. Some bloggers and publication have no problem writing a “Top Ten Toys of 2012″ article, having never played with the actual toys. The list are often pretty, filled with nice PR images and often well written. The only thing missing is the honest truth about the toys.
We Promise To Always Start With Step 1
I am not sure what is wrong with us. Perhaps we never really grew up, but we all LOVE playing with toys. While other sites are spitting out many more reviews, we are fine sticking with Step 1 and playing with the toys. As we start to prepare our list of the Top Toys of 2012, we reaffirm our commitment to only review toys we have fully used and tested in a real world setting. We lay it all out in our Product Review Pledge, but we just wanted to let you know that we are fully committed to keeping real and honest toy reviews alive in 2012!
Yes, We Have Room To Improve and We Will Try to Do Better
As our spouses will tell you, we are clearly not perfect. Let’s be honest, we have published some toy reviews that were real stinkers. We need to do a better job of describing which toys are the best match for each type of kid. We need to come back and update reviews months later when something goes wrong. We have to make parents aware of the negatives of a toy. Wow, we have a lot to do.
We do love toys and love doing toy reviews and look forward to doing more to help parents make wise decisions on the best toys for the upcoming 2012 holiday season.
Get Ready, We Are About to Go Top Toys Crazy
This article started on a down note, but we are finishing up high and optimistic. Are honest toy reviews dead? No way, we just need to show everyone why real world toy reviews trump fancy press releases. Between now and December 25th, we are going on a toy buying spree. Cars, Trucks, Apps, Dolls, Science Kits, RC Robots – we are coming after all of you! Join us as we spend the next months trying, testing and reviewing all the top toys for 2012 (and 2013). Oh, and if you happen to have a direct number for Santa, please pass it along…that would be a huge time saver.
Here are the Guides To The Best Toys of 2012…
- Best Outdoor Toys of 2012 to Amaze and Delight
- Top R/C Flying Toys of 2012
- Top Driving, Racing and Crashing Toys of 2012
- Best Blasters And Toy Guns of 2012
- Fun Toys The Kids Will Still Be Playing With in 2013
- Top Spy Toys of 2012