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The True Cost of a Toy is Not What You Think

The True Cost of a Toy is Not What You Think

Posted by Phil Wrzesinski, HABA USA on Oct 18th 2021

My grandfather had a big black trunk full of toys. He used to drive around town in the 1950’s and use that trunk to teach women how to best shop for toys.

The toys are gone, but I still have the trunk and all the lessons it contained.

The biggest lesson of all is still true today. The True Cost of a toy is not what you pay for it.

The True Cost of a toy is the Cost per Hour of Play.

Here is a truth we all can agree … Children are going to play and most of that play time will be spent playing with toys. If they lose interest in a toy, they move on to another toy.

Your job as the parent is to provide those toys. Choose well, and the money you invest will fill hours of their time but choose poorly and you will be back to the store to spend more.

Let me give you an example. Do you remember the Tickle Me Elmo? It came out in 1997 and was voted Toy of the Year. It was the hottest toy of the season with people paying over $700 to get this $25 toy. It was red, furry, and it vibrated and giggled when you squeezed its belly.

The first time you squeezed its belly, remember how hard you laughed? By the third time you squeezed its belly, however, you had to be showing it to someone else to make them laugh for it to be any fun. Once the novelty wore off, the toy never got played with again. How long did that take? About an hour.

One hour for $25. Not a good return on your investment. (Imagine the people who paid $700?)

Here is another example. The balsa wood airplane you always begged your mom to get costs around $2 today and still has a play time of about fifteen minutes before it gets broken, stuck in a tree, or taken away for throwing it in the house. Cost per Hour of Play? $8 for a $2 toy.

Finally, here is a third example to drive home the point. The Kullerbü Construction Site Set #303081 sells for $59.99, easily the most expensive toy from these examples. Yet, since it engages a child’s imagination, is built with quality parts to last, and has multiple levels of play, your child will play with it for weeks or months, not just hours.

You will have paid pennies per hour of play by the time your child stops playing months from now, whereas the first two examples could not even get you to the end of the day.

When you focus on Cost per Hour of Play, you are going to save yourself both money from making better choices and time because you are not out shopping for more toys. (And we haven’t even gotten to the benefits for your kids!)

Grandpa knew these things and wanted you to know them, too. That was always the first lesson he unpacked from his trunk.


Phil Wrzesinski, National Sales Manager, HABA USA

Phil, like his grandfather and father before him, has been in the toy industry his entire life, helping thousands of parents make the best choices of toys for their kids.