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.