Thursday, 22 December 2011

Why its time to say goodbye

We are extremely fortunate to have been ToysRus Toyologists for two years. I can't tell you how thrilled we were to receive the email asking us if we would like to be part of this amazing adventure and then to be invited back for a second year.

It has been a wonderful experience.  We had the opportunity to review many of the latest toys as they came onto the market and we loved thinking up new ways to review. Making films from the playmobil characters and my all time favourite remains the BigFoot video. 

As a  new blogger I got to meet some established bloggers who were very generous with their time and advice. I met Jen from Mum in the Madhouse during the tea party held to launch the campaign and we have remained firm friends ever since.  

I will always be grateful to ToysRus for the opportunity they gave us and their management of the campaigns, my decision to leave the campaign is no way a reflection on them.

Many people have commented on how lucky we were to have such an opportunity and yes we were, but it is hard work reviewing large amounts of toys. We were never put under any pressure by ToysRus to get the reviews completed but I always felt an obligation to them and the manufacturers because of their generosity. This was really easy during the first campaign, the boys were happy and excited and everybody helped out but as time has gone on it almost became a chore for me.  I have seen a side to my children that I do not like. When a box arrived they would just be interested in ripping it open to see the contents and then would loose interest really quickly. Leaving me to try to get them to build, play and review the toys. This is time consuming and hard work especially when as a self employed person I have many other commitments.  Even hiding the boxes and giving them one item at a time only resulted in a backlog of reviews.  We could of course missed out on a box or two, the option was there.  But I could never bring myself to do that, what does that say about me ?  Was it greed ? not sure, I just know it made me realise things about myself and my children that I really didn't like.

When we began the campaign my children only ever received toys at Christmas and birthdays and now they were getting toys every few weeks and lots of them.    For a family like ours living on a really tight budget and some weeks having very little funds to buy even the basics for our home life, having all these expensive toys lying around the house was very hard for me to rationalise.  I tried really hard to give toys to other people to review and this more often than not ended in more stress, most people were happy to take the toys but very few gave detailed feedback on what they felt about the toy. I felt real stress having to constantly ask people if it was possible for photographs or feedback.  I also then felt an unreasonable sense of anger when they didn't seem "grateful" for the opportunity.  I don't like thse feelings.   We gave a lot away to charity etc but again understandably not always possible to get feedback to complete the reviews.

I really feel this year that I have let ToysRus down with the campaign, my reviews have been lacklustre and without spark, it has become a chore. Reading the reviews of some of the other toyologists only confirms this, particularly James Spence  whose cartoon reviews are something else.

So there we are, I have written to ToysRus withdrawing myself from the campaign .  I feel a real sense of relief now the decision is made.  I will not have it there at the back of my mind all the time.


  1. I am delighted you did this otherwise I would have never met you and hopefully when i move to Poole we will meet again x

  2. Thank you, likewise lovely lady xx We will def get together when you move to the west country. You can join our Devon Twitter group xx Have a lovely christmas xxx

  3. aww Karen I love your reviews and I understand completely what you mean, we live on a tight budget too with being self employed money is very rarely left over for the latest gadgets so I am in the same boat with reguards to the greed/expecting nature and like you I like to give them away but then like you find your just simply can't get any decent reviews done in doing this, so i found myself reviewing things THEN giving them away no strings attached, that seems to work, but still it is ALOT of hard work keep in touch and have a great christmas and hope that 2012 is good for you!

  4. Good for you for making a decision which you instincively know is the right one for you and your lovely boys. Toys R Us will miss you, I'm sure. Hope you have a great 2012 and your business goes from strength to strength. x

  5. Congratulations on the past two years and being such an exemplary toyologist. It was so nice to meet you at the Tots100 and discuss the reviewing process. It does take a lot of hard work and I'm not comfortable doing anything other than a detailed review, earning my keep so to speak. I understand your reasoning completely and commend you for sticking to your guns.

  6. I can understand that decision. I have a few things sitting needing reviewed that I don't have specific time frames for, but I felt the need to do them pre-christmas and I just have not managed to do that.

    I know that I have had to deal with toothache, bad cold and getting freelance stuff out as well, but we put our own pressures on for them.

  7. I really know what you mean - we were part of the programme in the first year and I felt it was just too much, too often - Flea lost all excitement about toys, and I didn't feel comfortable. I also felt it spoiled Christmas a little, as she'd already received the "big" toys from the year - and I couldn't think of anything to buy her that would impress her at all!

    This year we've just done the Playmobil toy programme, and we've received perhaps half a dozen toys through the year which has been perfect - I feel happy to review them in detail without them taking over my blog, and it's not TOO much.

    It sounds funny to say you can have too much free stuff, especially when funds are limited, but I really know where you're coming from!

  8. This must have been a hard decision to make but an understandable one. There is only so much you can do. Well done hon. x

  9. Sarah & Troubles mum thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your good wishes. I really appreciate them xx

  10. The Boy and Me, it was lovely to meet you too (even if we didn't win the christmas tree comp ) : )
    I do agree, I feel we owe ToysRus that much to properly review the products and looking at some of the reviews people have done this year I really feel I have fallen short.

  11. Scottish mum you are right, I am getting more and more approaches direct from the manufacturers and although I turn lots down or recommend other bloggers to do them I really do feel I owe it to them to review the product quickly. I am certainly going to be more selective about reviews in general in 2012 and concentrate more on what brings in the cash. xx



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