*Items gited from @shopDisney. All opinions are my own
Some time ago I drew a line under toy reviews and made a pact that we couldn’t possibly take on any more new stuff for the kids. But there are toy reviews, and then there is the email you get…from @shopDisney.
Toy Story 4 has been on our radar for a while. We have, like many of you guys had a love affair with Woody and Buzz and the gang since the first time our daughter clapped eyes on the first movie. We praised the fact that when she went through the obsessive phase that there were not one, or two, but three feature length movies to rotate through, and a couple of short films to boot.
We did that thing where we made it our mission to collect as many of those characters as possible, and despite many a toy cull, Woody, Buzz and their entourage have always survived the chop. I mean, how could we ever part with those guys? We all know their destiny is to be in a box in the loft until the girls go to uni right?
Of course, die hard fans will know that in Toy Story 3 Andy bravely did the right thing and passed on his beloved toys to a new loving owner, and I can only assume that it’s here the story will pick up with our never forgotten friends. Word has it there’s a return of a leading lady in a 2019 ready style, and I have no doubt that there will be a bunch of new favourites to bring the cast up to date.
Back in 2014, when Tigs was just knee high to a grasshopper (or should that be a caterpillar?), the two young boys next door moved away to another part of the UK. Just before they bundled into the car and waved goodbye for the last time they knocked on the door and gave Tigs their Woody, Buzz and Rex. I was an emotional wreck at the significance of this scene, and Tigs, none the wiser was just over the moon to have yes, you guessed it, ‘New Toys’.
So as we unboxed the incredible parcel from shopDisney, I had a little eureka moment.
After all, our girls, like so many fortunate kids, are drowning in stuff. Three sets of grandparents and a comfortable existence that we don’t ever take for granted; but them? Hmmm…I’m not so sure. Being kids of a blogger means the magic of surprise in unboxing has long since become the norm and it’s a feeling I’ve become uncomfortable with as a mother wanting to raise kids with the right values.
What if I could unravel the message of Toy Story. Lose these toys as per the brief, to be discovered elsewhere? Dodge our kids altogether, and pay it forward to some deserving children who might just need a smile?
So that’s exactly what I did.
After The Fire
As soon as I saw Woody smiling up at me from his box, there was a certain little boy who immediately came to mind.
In 2018 some friends of mine from way back had a devastating house fire early one morning whilst Mum showered and Dad and the kids were still snoozing in bed. Just renovated to the most beautiful standard, their home was gutted by smoke and heat damage and they had to move out for almost a year whilst the house was made safe and liveable, and thankfully, now is well on it’s way back to it’s former glory. You can follow their victorian house renovations on the instagram page @after_the_fire_2018 (warning it’s house goals).
One of the most iconic and unforgettable images our friends shared was that of Woody and Jessie, sitting on their youngest sons fireplace; sooty and surrounded by a desperately sad scene.
This family were incredibly lucky to have escaped the fire unharmed, but no one can take away how unimaginable it must have been for them to have seen their home and all it’s contents going up in smoke. I certainly can’t imagine Tigs and the mouse coping having lost one precious toy, let alone most of them. It was shocking for everyone who knew them, who felt helpless as to how to help in anyway, no matter how small.
And so, to these two little boys who have been through so much, went Woody.
Of course we all know what it’s like having two kids and one gift, so for their eldest son we also delivered a Toy Story 4 figurine set.
Needless to say they were over the moon with their surprise, and as they quizzed their Mum about what mystery person delivered them, she simply told them “Someone who cares”. And ain’t that the truth as Woody would probably say, because despite friendships drifting over the years, when times are tough, we do of course all care and would be there in a heart beat.
Sticking a crook to Cancer
I have to be honest, if there was one toy we considered keeping, it was the new and improved kick ass Bo Peep. With two girls in the house we are all about raising strong females and I love how Disney have shaken things up and brought Bo back in a feisty form.
But of course, Bo wouldn’t have been really appreciated here, in a house where we have been trying and failing lately to get the girls playing more with all the toys they already have, which can apparently never live up to You Tube or Minecraft.
And so, someone far more deserving came to the fore and there was no question of what was the right thing to do.
I’ve mentioned before about the Mum Tribe who got me through those early years of motherhood. The random bunch of women I met and bonded with over park dates and childrens centre play sessions. They came and went and we don’t see them as much as we did, but they will all always remain very special.
We were distraught to hear that one of the children in that first little friendship group of Tigs has been diagnosed with Leukaemia and is bravely fighting with everything she’s got. She’s had such a tough time and we have all been rooting for her to get this thing beat and get back to school and to the normal life a six year old should be living.
And so, to the bravest girl we know, went Bo. She was discovered after a long day at hospital on a sunny Sunday on her doorstep, and went a small way to brightening up a very special little girls weekend.
One in a million
The third baby conundrum was one that many of my Mum mates pondered. For one of my friends who made that leap whilst juggling the first two kids the same age as mine, I knew if anyone could do it she could.
And, yes she did, juggling it all and seeming like some kind of superhero. Until that is life dealt that family a huge blow overnight, when their six month old son was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.
TS is a condition which causes benign tumours to grow on the major organs, resulting in a whole spectrum of consequences, from epilepsy to developmental delays, problems with circulation, sight and potentially so much more. It’s all a roulette wheel and whilst he could live a totally normal and healthy life, the fact is this is a life that will require medical support and monitoring every step of the way.
This of course has turned life upside down for this family, not just for him, but for his brother and sister and parents and everyone who loves them. Life has now become a complicated balance of keeping life normal and happy, and all the extra medical support this darling little boy needs.
That’s why I wanted to do something special for all three of these frankly gorgeous children who we are lucky to call our friends.
I still had a couple of amazing toys in my goodie box; an alien voice changer and a woody dress up outfit. Both of which I knew would make some little child very, very happy. But again, probably not ours.
Driving through my local town, I found myself pulling up at the Ellenor hospice, where they gratefully accepted the toys for their children under their care.
I have no idea what the back stories of these children might be, but with the hospice providing respite care, bereavement counselling and end of life care to local children, it’s fair to say these will generate smiles where they will be needed most.
And so, this was a toy review with a difference. Doing something kind and unexpected for others has been such an honour and I’m so pleased I broke the mould on this one.
I have a feeling this is the start of something, and toy reviewing might just be back on for good.
Disclosure: These toys were gifted. All were rehomed.