It dawned on me this morning that I was remiss in leaving readers of my last post with some practical tools when it comes to buying toys for children. I believe the Scatter Plot is a useful framework for making these kinds of decisions, but toy-buying is much more complex than simply analyzing how far and wide the pieces will be spread throughout your home and yard (thanks Paula!). In order to help with this process, especially considering Christmas is right around the corner*, I have created the following toy-buying matrix. I will follow this up with recommendations for scoring and interpreting these data. I have purposely kept the size of this instrument small enough that you can fit it on a note card, the back of a business card, or simply have it indiscriminately tattooed on your wrist. When you, your child or anyone else in your toy-buying network encounters a potential acquisition, simply give them this matrix, score it quickly and give them a response.

The scoring for this matrix is simple:

SD = 1; D = 2; N = 3; A = 4; SA = 5

The items in the matrix should be weighted with the following values:

  • Item 1: x1
  • Item 2: x2
  • Item 3: x1
  • Item 4: x3
  • Item 5: x1
  • Item 6: x5

After you have scored the desired toy, deciding whether or not to buy it should be a no-brainer. I ran a pilot study using this matrix this morning as I stopped by Walmart for a some toothpaste. Here are the preliminary results:

  • Every ImagiNEXT toy: 47
  • Thomas the Train: 26
  • Any toy that actually flies or lands a jump: 49
  • The Smurfs: 12

Happy Shopping!

*Walmart recently decided to move Christmas approximately 2 weeks after Halloween. If fact, if you time it just right you can buy your child a Halloween costume for Christmas at a very low price.