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Toy Sharing Subscription – Brilliant or Dumb Idea?

Cluttered Toys

As a mom of two boys, an active toddler & a tween, the idea of Toy Sharing Subscription is really intriguing. Kids monthly subscription is recently gaining popularity. In December 2018, Pinterest Newsroom released their article “Pinterest 100: The top trends for 2019”. According to Pinterest, Toy Sharing Subscription is one of the official 100 Pinterest trends for 2019, with searches for “toy share subscriptions” keywords in the web search engines gone up by +313% in 2018.

Pinterest claims that the way they know an idea is trending is by looking at what all those 250 million people around the world are searching for.

If an idea keeps getting more and more searches each month? And that upward trajectory holds steady for 6+ months? That’s how we know it’s a trend.

https://newsroom.pinterest.com/en/post/pinterest-100-the-top-trends-for-2019

Just a clarification, as I saw a couple of blogs that mixed up the two: Toy Subscription Companies, like KiwiCo, Amazon and Cratejoy are totally different from Toy Sharing Companies, which are also called Toy Rental Companies. The main difference is that toys are NOT TO BE RETURNED in Toy Subscription Companies; whereas, Toys are REQUIRED TO BE RETURNED or BOUGHT OUT in the Toy Sharing Companies.

My first thought is that Toy Sharing Subscription is a brilliant idea!

I’m sure all parents can relate on these experiences:

Cluttered Toys
A typical day in our home

How all sorts of toys take up a huge space in the house?

How it is a big pain in the back to organize and put away toys every other day, if not everyday.

How many times you got hurt by accidentally tripping on a toy that is cluttered everywhere in the house?

How many times you see those brand new toys that were once favourites but never played again since and now are just collecting dust in the basement?

How many times you had to spend a couple of hundred dollars for toys?

How many times you had to wash them clean after all the messy child play?

This is the reality about toys, especially in North America. It is normal for an average income earner family to have a whole room full of toys, even for just one kid. I remember my 8-year old being kind of jealous with his cousin for having more toys than him. The toys at home are taking our whole recreational room’s space! That’s one of the problems our younger generations are having now, there’s no sense of satisfaction with what they have and they easily get bored!

All of these concerns seem to be addressed perfectly by the Toy Sharing Subscription.

How It Works

Green Pinata puts it simply: Choose, Play, Repeat.

Toy subscription companies, like Toy Library, Green Pinata and Toy Rental Club, offer monthly subscription packages that families can avail at different costs depending on the value of the package they want. Each subscription package allows the family to borrow toys for as long as they want and have the option to either return them back or buy them out. Once toys are returned back to the company, toys get cleaned and sanitized (atleast they promise to) before putting them back to the pool of available toys ready for another families.

Sounds very awesome and hassle-free, right? Let’s dive into the Advantages and Disadvantages.

The Advantages

  • Kids get to have the excitement every time new toys arrive in the mail. This is undoubtedly rewarding and pleasing to every parent’s eyes.
  • Kids get to have a steady supply of new toys. Toy Library offers more than 500 toys to choose from. Green Pinata offers a couple of hundreds of toy inventories. Each companies claims that they add new inventory of toys in a regular basis.
  • Less toys ending up in garbage, which means less waste for mother Earth.
  • Having the chance to know what kids like best before buying it. Not all toys are equal in the eyes of a child, there is certainly a favourite toy. It is wise to know what the kids enjoy most before investing on a bunch of different toys.
  • Search for toys relevant to your kid’s age is easier. There’s only one website to pick out toys from instead of scouring the whole internet or local stores in search for the best toys.
  • Monthly cost to rent the toys is cheaper than buying them.
    For both Green Pinata & Toy Library shipping both ways is free. It is very easy to spend $20 on an average toy nowadays. That same $20 can have 2 different types of toys with a basic monthly subscription.
    Green Pinata’s basic subscription offers up to 4 toys for $24.99 per month. Toy Library offers 2 toys up to $80 value for their Novice package for $19.95/ month
  • No more huge piles of unused toys in the house, which means less toys to organize.

While I’m seeing several articles about the advantages of the Toy Sharing Subscription within the last couple of months, I have not seen one article that highlighted the disadvantages.

So I’m listing the Disadvantages from a viewpoint of an average mom who is practical and who just wants the best for my kids. I have scoured the internet to search for the fine prints in the terms and conditions of the 3 most visible Toy Rental Subscription companies I found: Toy Library & Green Pinata (both located & serving the US) and Toy Rental Club (located in Singapore).

The Disadvantages

  • No more Pride of ownership. How could I let my kids play with used toys! It’s understandable that parents wants only the best and greatest for their kids. For some parents, this alone is a deal-breaker.
  • The value of the toys you get is limited to the purchased monthly subscription plan you are willing to pay. Yes, companies have that huge inventory of toys but you are only allowed to rent what your money is worth. Of course!
  • You can pick your choice of toys but Toy Rental Companies cannot guarantee actual delivery of the exact toy. I have quoated below the statements from the companies:

We reserve the right to process orders, allocate toys and schedule deliveries and pickups to and from our customers in any manner that we, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine. In addition, we will, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine the quantity of Toys we purchase of any brand or type. As a result of the operational practices described in this section, we may have to offer the customer an alternative toy to the one requested.

http://www.toyrentalclub.com/terms.htm

We also reserve the right and absolute discretion to determine the allocation and shipment of toys among our subscribers.  As a business practice, we may not send the subscriber top toy choices or the toys selected by the member.

https://greenpinatatoys.com/terms-of-use
  • Face the consequence of damaged or missing toy. Most kids, especially toddlers, play rough on toys, so damaging a toy, tearing it into pieces or even loosing the toy is quite normal. In the case of non-rentable or missing toy in your possession, you have to either get charged for the toy’s full retail value if renting with Toy Rental Club or pay a restocking fee equal to 95% of the market value of the toy if renting with Toy Library. This means the family is left with an unusable or missing toy after paying the recurring monthly subscription fee and paying for the full or partial retail value of the toy!
  • Toys to be returned must be in a clean and sanitary condition. Toy Rental Club charges $15-$30 per toys if returned dirty.
  • A deposit fee may be required. Toy Rental Club requires a $50 deposit refunded if or when the customer ceases to use their rental services and only if Toys are returned in full – with all accessories. Toy Library and Green Pinata do not require deposit fee.
  • Less time to actually play with the toy.  Rental dates takes effect as soon as the customer reserves the toy but can actually play with it upon delivery, which could take 5-7days in the US in case of Green Pinata.
  • You have to pay for the whole time the toy is in your possession, whether it is being played with or not.
  • Face the stressful process of returning toys and communicating with the company in case of damaged toys upon delivery. I hate spending time of having to prove that the package received was initially damaged and the communication with hopefully good customer service of the rental company. This is on top of the kid’s loss time in playing with the toy which you are already paying.

My Final Verdict

For me and my 2 boys, the Toy Sharing Subscription is a Dumb Idea.

First, I’m not the type of mom who would spoil my kids with new toys every month or whenever they feel bored with the toys they have. I would stick to my values of being grateful for the things we have.

Second, I gather all the things, including toys, with any monetary value once a year and I sell them in our local buy and sell websites as part of de-cluttering our house. That definitely helps in creating the much-needed space within our house.

Third, I only buy brand new toys that either provides the most learning opportunities for my kids or used toys from garage sales. I am blessed enough to have generous relatives who keep on gifting toys to our kids.

However, every family is different. Some families may actually be benefitting most with the Toy Sharing Subscription. So assess your family’s needs, can the Advantages outweighs the Disadvantages?

Is Toy Sharing Subscription a Brilliant Idea or a Dumb Idea for your own family? Share your thoughts below! 🙂

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14 Comments

  1. Peter Clark

    The post you shared here. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life in society. Different materials like wood, clay, paper, and plastic are used to make toys.

  2. Maroosha

    Hi Jhie, thanks for the article. Is there a better way to get in touch? I am a journalist and wanted to speak with you about a story I am working on.

    Thanks.

  3. Carolyn

    I agree dumb idea. If I had to pay every time I kids broke or lost a toy I would be bankrupt! I prefer used toys, cheaper, better for the environment, less stress. I use “pay it forward groups” on Facebook and as a bonus, it is teaching kids about giving away their toys because they are so thrilled when they get a new one from another child.

    • Jhie

      Thanks Carolyn! Being in a group like you mentioned sounds a great idea. It’s actually a toy sharing idea without the costly price tag. I wonder if there is actually such group in our local community…

  4. john

    Never heard of toy sharing before. This is a good idea for those who do not have a lot of space for their kids to play or do not want a lot of things on the floor around the house. I would think this would be a great thing for grandparents that watch the kidos a lot. They would not have to keep a large amount of toys around and would be able to provide a great varietey of things to play with. What is the rental value compared to the purchase price on a rental of toys.
    John

    • Jhie

      Hi John! The value of toys you’ll have depends on the value of your subscription per month. This is indeed a good alternative to buying toys especially for grandparents 🙂

  5. Derek Marshall

    Very interesting article and I must admit I had no idea about toy subscription clubs. The idea is, in a sense great but there is a huge caveat. And something you touched on!. With such clubs, we are in danger of spoiling our kids a bit too much.
    I like to treat my kids to their toys when they need them or when they deserve them for working hard at school or being responsible like tidying up (for example).

    Just getting new toys regularly takes away this aspect of good parenting.

    Your thought?

    • Jhie

      I agree with you on that Derek! That’s my very first reason why i think Toy Sharing Idea is dumb. I want only the best for my kids that is why I’d rather instill values of contentment and being grateful and responsible instead of spoiling them.

  6. Jay

    This is a really interesting idea. One that I have never come across but it does seem that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages of toy subscription. Sure, having so many toys around the house that the kids have outgrown can be disappointing but what I normally do is to just give the toy out to someone else that I feel is in need of it.
    There are many charities that would accept toys as long as they are still in ok shape. Also, like you pointed out, one cannot guarantee that a toy would be in good shape when you plan on returning it back to the company it was rented from because kids do play rough. One would have to spend even extra aside from the monthly subscription. I just see this as extra spending and is something I would consider not a really good idea although there would be those that would also benefit from it.

    • Jhie

      I totally agree with you on that Jay! Kids are kids, they can be rough on toys sometimes but we, as parents, don’t need to pay extra money because of that. There are other options on toys out there, just like Alexandra pointed out in the comment. 🙂

  7. Alexandra

    When I first started reading this I thought “What a great Idea” and then when I came to the prices I started to reconsider. Yes new toys are expensive but you don+t need to purchase them brand new. Basically you will be paying $20 per month for 2 second hand toys. You might as well go to your local op shop and purchase a few second hand toys and support a great cause. I think that if we teach our children to shop second hand and then to give back by donating we will have great adults.

    • Jhie

      You are absolutely right Alexandra! Toys don’t have to be brand new and fancy all the time. Sometimes it’s just anything that kids find interesting is all that makes them happy and contented:)

  8. Eddie

    I can agree with you… dumb idea. However, you had me intrigued about the big mess of all the toys we have in our house. In the attic and in the garage. Bags and bags of toys. We only have two kids and I feel we’re always collecting toys. But I rather give them to the local charity places or donating them to our local goodwill store. I wouldn’t do the toy sharing subscription because it doesn’t get rid of the problem, it just makes it more confusing.

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