Big price tags on games and toys is no longer the deterrent for parents and kids alike, MANGALA RAMAMOORTHY finds out
To spend or not spend doesn't seem to the question any longer. Inflation may be touching the sky, but that hasn't stopped parents from splurging on their kids. And no, it's not just on books or clothes, but also on toys. Spending free time and playtime has just got more expensive. Wondering what's big deal about toys? Then take a look at this - Rs. 1,999 for a junior car for kids till 36 months, a radio-controlled car for Rs. 5,999, `Barbie in the 12 dancing princesses' magical dance castle for Rs. 3,999, Barbie expandable horse and carriage Rs. 1,999. Want more? The first skates for kids at Rs. 1,999, Ultra blast batman figure for Rs. 1,499, a real-time spy camera for Rs. 800, a handheld Nintendo video game at Rs. 7,000, a Play station 3 is priced at Rs. 40,000 and the new X-box 360 pro costs Rs. 27,000. To think of it, what's the lifespan of these games and toys? Not more than a few months, or may be a couple of years. The younger kids, especially, outgrow their toys and games faster than the older ones, and that is if the toy has not been taken apart. Is that a deterrent? No, say parents. "During our childhood, we couldn't even think of owning such life like toys. It was not about affordability; just that we never had the choices my kids have today. I really don't mind giving them different kind of toys, as this is the age they will enjoy them. Some of them are at the higher price-end, but the technology that is used is amazing as well. And quality doesn't come cheap, does it?" feels M. Srilatha, a relationship manager and mother of two kids. Also, organised retail malls have given the parents and the children the opportunity to look and get a feel of the toys and games they are buying and know more about it features. And thanks to the innumerable cartoon channels, the kids too know their toys very well, in most cases, better than their parents. That's why the accessories and gadgets used by their super heroes are much in demand. A working mother, Vahini Murali cites an example, "I don't give in to the demand of my son easily, and so when he wanted the Beyblade stadium I refused. But then he would come home crying every evening, as his friends wouldn't allow him to play because he didn't own one. When I can afford it, I decided to get him one. It's only when I went to the market did I realise I wasn't the only one buying it." And the costs of games only seem to be going higher as does the age. Buying expensive gaming CDs, console and accessories are no longer a big deal. Srikanth Polisetti, 18, is a proud owner of Playstaion 2, but has already set his eyes on X-box 360. "It is the best gaming technology can give you at present. And it is something that will not go out of fashion for quite sometime. Parents may not agree to this, but the kind of detailing it offers is amazing and is worth the money." But Sanjay Luthra, Managing Director, Mattel Toys (India) says that the toy industry is still at its nascent stage in our country. "Only 25 percent of this sector is organised. It is definitely one of the fastest growing sector," he informs. He feels that toys play a very important part in the overall development of the kid and should be encouraged. "Our pre-school range aims at developing the motor skills of children and even with Barbie, we inculcate social, family values, self discovery, the importance of sister or a friend. And when they look at their heroes on screen, they get the chance to relive the experience at home through these toys," explains Sanjay. He agrees that most toys have a heavy price tag, but he also attributes it to the quality they need to maintain. "Toy safety is the utmost on our mind. We have to look at the toxic angle, which is a big issue globally."