If you have a child between the ages of six months and five years, don't have budget to buy new toys regularly to keep up with their milestones and development, or just don't feel like forking out for things that you know won't last forever, then there's Smart Toy Club, a monthly toy rental subscription.
This is a big trend overseas for parents who not only want an affordable way to give their kids great toys, but as a way to get rid of unwanted toys.
How Smart Toy Club works is that every month, you get a great selection of age-appopriate toys, which gets couriered to you (or you can fetch from three pick-up points in Cape Town – Milnerton, Higgovale or Wynberg). Your child plays with the toys for four weeks, after which they get collected, and a new bag of toys delivered!
Each toy bag will contain around R700 worth of toys. You will get a varied selection, chosen by the Smart Toy Club moms and you can expect between 4 and 6 toys each month depending on the retail value of the toys in your bag. You won't get the same toy more than once, unless you specifically request it.
It's a win-win: your child gets new toys that always keep them stimulated, and you don't have to spend the full amount on toys that might only be used for a few weeks or months anyway.
While my daughter is not yet six months, which is the starting age of the toy bags, I was sent a box for six-month-olds, just to get a sense of how it works, and what the toys look like. I was impressed – there were big names in our hamper, and it doesn't feel like just because you're renting, the quality is average, or the toys are boring.
We got Fisher-Price Rainforest Twist & Spin, Fisher-Price Puppys Crawl-Along Ball, Fisher-Price Musical Keys, Tolo Musical TV, and Fisher-Price Floating Duck. These are the exact toys I would probably buy my daughter as they are superb developmental items, and are hardy too. The bonus? The battery-operated toys came with rechargeable batteries, so everything was in working order (yay – less admin for me!)
If you're worried that older kids might get attached to their toys (can you just picture the toddler tantrums?), fear not. Smart Toy Club says that kids can either keep the toy for another month (just let them know first), or else you can purchase it.
Another obvious concern is how clean the toys are after going from home to home? Well, according to Smart Toy Club, all toys are properly cleaned, sterilised and wiped down, which I can believe – our bag of toys were very clean, and while they didn't appear brand new, they looked really good and "usable".
If you collect, it's R249/month, and if they deliver, it's R299/month for Western Cape, and R399/month for national (standard courier conditions apply, available between work hours).
Smart Toy Club has a three month minimum subscription. After this trial period, it's month-to-month and you can cancel at any time.
Another bonus is that you can also get a free month for any referrals so once you've tried the service, spread the word about it.
If you're wanting to part with your old toys, then for R50, Smart Toy Club will come and collect them from your home. If you have any good quality toys lying around, you can send them photos, and once reviewed, if appropriate, they can buy these from you (at 50% of the retail price).
For more information, head to the Smart Toy Club website.