The 5 most common reasons
why toys fail a Good Toy Guide evaluation

In the last 10 years of the Good Toy Guide we have reviewed over 1,500 toys.

This process is designed to evaluate how fun a toy is to play with, how easy it is to use, and how good the play value is.

Most are already on the shelves in toy stores and have had marketing budgets invested into them. However, as many as 3 in 100 toys don’t pass the Good Toy Guide accreditation process. 

How great play value can help to sell your toy

A toy may be really exciting and attention-grabbing at first, but let down by poor usability. 

This means that children and parents may be drawn to it in a shop, but once they get it home, it’s not quite what they expected it to be.


This is important because a great product leads to great word of mouth, which is free advertising and potential sales for you. 

To develop toys with great play value, take a look at the common pitfalls below and make sure your products steer well clear of them.

The top five reasons toys fail a Good Toy Guide evaluation (according to our experts)

1. The instructions aren’t clear.

Possibly the most common issue we have seen is where the instructions are too difficult to follow, particularly for board and card games, construction, or craft sets.

It’s important to know whether you are writing instructions for a parent to help a child with, or for a child to follow themselves. It’s also a good idea to test the instructions with people who aren’t familiar with the toy, to make sure they are clear enough to understand without any prior knowledge. 

Example: A board game doesn’t clearly present the goal of the game right at the start, so children don’t understand the aim and quickly lose interest.

2. It doesn’t work when used by children of the target age

There’s a big difference between an adult trying out a toy in an office or factory, compared with a child using it at home. Sometimes a product simply doesn’t work in the way a child will use it. For instance, it may need a particular amount of strength to work, or may even break through normal use.

Example: A construction toy for babies with pieces that are very hard to pull apart.

3. It’s too difficult (or too easy) for the target age.

Sometimes we will test toys that look suitable for young children, but are too challenging for them; meanwhile, they are too “babyish” for older children to be interested in, even though they are capable of using them.

Some toys, particularly educational toys or more complex construction and craft kits, may require a great deal of help from an adult. This can lead to children losing interest, because they aren’t able to be actively involved.

Example: A wooden puzzle that features a cartoon animal theme which is appealing to three year-olds, but with the number of pieces suitable for five year-olds.

4. There's too much effort for too little reward

Young children can have limited patience and want a quick reward, so may become bored if something requires a lot of work. Older children are more likely to be patient and keep working at something, such as understanding instructions or building something complex, but their effort still needs to pay off. 

Example: A toy that takes a long time to build (30+ minutes) and then doesn’t work, or falls apart easily.

5. It doesn’t last long enough to enjoy

A good toy will give children lots of play opportunities and keep them engaged for a good length of time. For example, a construction toy needs enough separate pieces to build something fairly substantial, more so for older children who like a lot of detail. A tech toy needs to hold its charge well, so children can work out how to use it and still have time to play with it, before the battery runs out.

Example: A bubble machine that quickly runs out of bubble solution.

What happens if a product fails?

Our mission is to help toy companies make better quality toys, so we won’t post a negative review of a product if it doesn’t pass. Instead, we will write a report for the client to briefly summarise why the product has failed. This can be really useful evidence to support investment in development for future production runs.

Usually only a few amendments are needed for a product to pass, so we offer a free retest within a twelve-month period, to encourage our clients to make these changes and resubmit their product. 

We also offer Strategic Product Reports if clients would like to know more about how their product fared in the hands of children. This also includes recommendations from our experts to help improve the product’s play value, based on the feedback gathered.

Example: A bubble machine that quickly runs out of bubble solution.

Final tips to help your products
pass the Good Toy Guide evaluation

  • Learn about the ages and stages of child development, so you can become familiar with what children of your target age are able to do
  • Test your product with people outside of the design and marketing team, and ask for honest feedback, good or bad
  • Test with children to see how they use the toy in real life



To find out how our research, consultancy, and training services can help you develop quality toys with great play value, get in touch with the team today.