This week the Canadian Toy Testing Council announced that they are closing shop after 60 years of toy testing by Canadian kids and families. They have been struggling financially for several years and they had to make some tough decisions over the past year. “Faced with the reality that we could no longer sustain operations, the CTTC’s Board and our Members voted to dissolve the organization in March of 2015.”
Disclosure: I had the opportunity to serve on the board of the CTTC for two years and left a year ago due to time pressures in the rest of my life that prevented me from participating on the CTTC board in a meaningful way. My family was also a testing family in the final two years of testing.
I am disappointed that the Toy Council has had to come to this decision. The CTTC has played a valuable roll in Canada for the last sixty years. Every toy submitted for testing went through a lengthy testing period in multiple homes and the evaluations were completed by the kids. The results pointed parents and other toy buyers towards quality, good value toys.
What we parents think will be a good toy often ends up sitting ignored by the kids after the newness wears off. Kids are the ones who can actually tell us if the toy is any good. It is only through extended use that we learn about the quality of the toy, both in terms of construction and play value. The data collected through the hundreds of families and kids who tested toys through the council was compiled into annual lists of best bets and toys that were not recommended.
I see this issue from multiple angles. I am a parent and as such, a toy consumer. I am a blogger who may someday be asked to review toys for money (hint, hint). I am a former toy tester and CTTC board member and I am now also a toy maker.
When I was on the board I helped to investigate funding options and as a part of that work we looked into the other programs out there that present awards to manufacturers for their toys. Sadly we discovered that most of those award programs don’t involve any testing at all and most of them that did only involved a day or two of testing. Many of them are nothing more than marketing schemes where the manufacturer receives an award when they pay their money.
The CTTC didn’t take any funds from manufacturers in order to preserve their independence. Manufacturers submitted their toys for testing and had to accept the results of that testing – good and bad.
So now with the demise of CTTC what are we left with? We have award programs that don’t actually test value as described above. We have the judgement of bloggers like me who are provided free products and perhaps money to write reviews of those toys. Some people may only write those reviews after a prolonged period of play and others may write them after a day of play. Some will provide a negative review if the had a bad experience and others will not because they hope to receive additional products in the future. Either way, those reviews are the opinion of one person after experience in one home. It is not exactly a rigorous process and the results in one family are not necessarily applicable in another. This is also true when we ask our friends for their opinions and experiences with particular toys.
Now all we have is marketing. We have companies that want to sell us stuff. If your house is anything like mine, you already have stuff. We have too much stuff and are constantly getting rid of things that are no longer used. I would rather have a few good quality toys that the kids enjoy and that have good play value than 100 toys that break or sit around and collect dust and try to trip me in in the night.
It is unfortunate that the council was left with no option but to close their doors. The people who ran the council – almost exclusively volunteers in recent years – did tremendous work and did all of us a good service. Now we are left deciding between who has the best marketing campaign to figure out what toys will be best for our kids.
Thank you to all the testing families and dedicated staff and volunteers who have informed parents and toy buyers for the past sixty years.
The Canadian Toy Testing Council is holding one final toy sale to sell off their remaining stocks of testing toys. It will be this weekend in Ottawa.
If you are in town and in the market for toys here are the sale details
Saturday April 18th, 2015 10am to 3pm
WHERE: 1973 Baseline Rd (at Woodroffe Rd next to AADA Leasing)
Limited parking available
Cash, Visa or Mastercard only