Monday, August 15, 2011

Blocked by coordination concerns

I fully intended to take advantage of the lift on the state sales tax over the weekend, but I had the unfamiliar problem of not being able to think of any items I wanted to buy.

Sunday afternoon I found myself in the toy section at Target, trying to find a gift for a friend's one-year-old daughter that I would expect her to enjoy, and wouldn't mind being associated with by the other adults.

A further restriction is the child's mother cares a lot about what materials the toys are made of, so most stuffed animals were out. While I do not share this view, a gift to a young child is really a gift to the parents, money being fungible and all, and I believe when you try to help someone, you should do so on their terms.

I ended up putting the purchase on hold because I could not decide between several Lego-style knockoff plastic blocks. The actual Lego Duplo blocks are labeled for 18 months and up, and her first birthday isn't for a month, so that's no good. On the same shelf for 12 months and up were Fisher-Price Trio Junior blocks and Mega Bloks, and I didn't see any obvious difference in quality or price.

My concern was that someone else may give her a different brand of blocks, such as the three above or a dark horse candidate like Best-Lock blocks. It would be rather inconvenient for the birthday girl to have two incompatible block "scales" in her playpen, and the two would be mixed together and cause a real headache. I needed plastic block coordination before I felt comfortable making a purchase.

What's more, with the irrational power of sunk costs, that mere $20 purchase could inspire her parents to buy more blocks of the same brand and build up a single-brand block collection. However, none of those blocks looked as sturdy and uniform as the Lego blocks I grew up with. I could be hamstringing this girl's chance for a real Lego childhood. Can that all be avoiding by waiting an extra six months to go with Lego Duplo? I'm not sure.

I thought about making the purchase anyway, but I decided to put it on hold until I could coordinate things with the parents. I had to remind myself that the gift doesn't have to be a surprise to them.

After this overly-introspective attempt buying a gift, I think I can finally relate to Dr. Manhattan. Knowing too much really can paralysis your ability to function socially.


  1. "I didn't see any obvious difference in quality or price."

    Take that back! Lego brand is obviously superior!

    Nevermind that I have two huge plastic bins full of them and still occasionally buy sets for myself.

  2. I meant there were no differences among the knockoffs, I agree with you on Lego superiority.

    I might be tempted to buy modern sets if they didn't have such a lousy philosophy these days. Instead of being a collection of bricks that can be used for open-ended purposes, the sets now are specific toys that break into limited-purpose segments. It may be fun for Harry Potter fans, but not for me.

  3. That is true. My criticism for a while was regarding the medieval themed Legos. Me being a dork for all things middle-ages (and historical accuracy) I was peeved when knights started looking like Power Rangers. But the most recent additions to the medieval Legos have been pretty good.