Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Toy story

baby doll, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

If you've ever clicked on one of my photographs and been sent hurtling into the vast universe that is the flickrsphere, you may get the idea I have a thing for toys.

I'm probably the WORST person to be the parent of a kid in today's world of high consumption (or the best, depending upon your height). I've never met a toy store I didn't like. And I'm fairly certain I've never left one without making a purchase.

I am partial to small plastic people with moving parts. It's a sickness, really, and Annabel shares my disease.

"Hi, I'm Siobhan, and I have an addiction." I'll admit it.

But now, with all the recalls in the news and the growing popularity of a social concience (thank you Mr. Gore [without whom I'd still be stuffing plastic shopping bags under my sink instead of accumulating a similar stock of reusuable totes every time I go grocery shopping and forget to bring the ones we've already purchased]) I'm reading lables and trying to make better choices.

Made in Germany, my beloved Play Mobile figures are safe.

But little else seems to be.

When I walked through a chi-chi toystore late last month, trying to get a gander at possibles for Santa's sleigh, I was astounded by how many toys were made in China.

Everywhere I looked, every toy I picked up was labled "Made in China."

And then I started to see another, more curious lable.

"DESIGNED IN THE UNITED STATES" stamped prominently above the diminutive letters that spell out made-in-China ... as if the makers hoped those who are checking such things before they plunk down their money would be tricked into buying anyway.

Walking around my house will provide the same experience. Most of the colorful plastic contraptions that whirr and jump about on the power of D-cell batteries were made in China as were the myrad dolls, cars, plastics and gizmos that pour out in droves from her room.

This is excess, I say to myself in disgust. This is what we should have been trying to avoid.

And so, dear friends, I'd like you to meet Emily, as that is what I'm sure she'll be named if the little missy takes a shine to her come Christmas morning.

I met her at Etsy, a collective shop for individual craftspeople, many of whom hail from the states and take their creations seriously. It's not necessarily the answer, but it's definitely a start.


wordgirl said...

You know? I haven't been to a toy store in ages. Mainly because the stuff my boys buy is electronic in nature. Clearly, I'm missing out.

Anonymous said...

i'm a lurker on your blog, and i love your writing. but i wanted to put this in--having grown up in a waldorf school/community, i had a doll very similar to this. my mother made her for me and gave her to me on easter of my 4th year. i named her molly and i LOVED her for the rest of the years i played with dolls--she even had a place in my life when i was older and had accumulated two american girl dolls due to the generosity of rich relatives. i hope annabel sees in emily what i saw in molly :)

Sarita said...

I love Etsy and I am definitely planning in doing a lot of shopping there for the holidays. It is fantastic.

Even here in Europe, there is a lot of china crap. It feels so good NOT to purchase something and really wait until you find that thing that meets the criteria.

Thanks for sharing my feelings so eloquently.

toyfoto said...

Thanks for sharing that beautiful memory, anonymous. Stories like that really make me wish I COULD sew.

Sarita, I feel the same way. It feels good to pay more for something that was handmade in a cottage industry kind of a way.