Buying toys

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

The DoneDeal guide to buying toys

Most parents have been there; you take a look at your child’s Santa letter, hoping that this year their list will be mercifully short and inexpensive. But lo and behold, your eight-year-old seems to think that there is no toy too high-tech, bling, or downright overpriced to include.

The solution could be as simple as talking your child out of it. But if that doesn’t sound simple at all, then perhaps the answer lies in the DoneDeal Toys section. When a child gets a toy they’ve been hankering after, and it’s in good condition, they will not care in the slightest where it came from. 

Why buy toys via DoneDeal?

  • A second-hand toy will usually cost a fraction of its new equivalent.
  • Many of the used toys for sale are in new or almost-new condition (some of them will be unwanted gifts) so you don’t have to compromise on that shiny, new-toy feeling.
  • It is a more environmentally friendly way to buy, as you are reusing something and also avoiding a whole new set of packaging.
  • You can sometimes get very useful tips about a toy (how to set it up, how best to use it, things to watch out for) from a prior owner that you simply won’t get from a shop.
  • You will often get extras that you wouldn’t get in a shop; for example, your typical new dolls’ house will come unfurnished (and the furniture will add up to a pretty penny on top of the price of the house), whereas online sellers will throw in all their furniture at no extra cost.

Tips and tricks

  • Read online reviews of the toy, just as you would if you were going to buy it new. If it gets lots of bad reviews, it doesn’t matter how much of a bargain it is, you might want to think again.
  • Ask lots of questions. Not all buyers post comprehensive listings. You might want to check, for example, if it has all its parts, if it comes in its box, if there is any damage at all to it, or if they still have the instructions. Get all these details before you even consider going to see it.
  • Although second-hand toys are almost always considerably cheaper than new, do your homework. Some sellers might set a price higher than they should; if you know how much the item costs new, you’ll have a better case for asking them to take a lower amount.
  • It seems obvious, but if you’re buying something electric or battery-operated, make sure you plug it in or insert batteries and test it before you buy.
  • Check that there is no leakage around the battery compartment.
  • If the battery compartment needs to be unscrewed, check that the screws haven’t been worn down from use.

Safety first

When buying toys online, much of the same safety advice applies as when buying from a shop.

  • Look for the CE mark; this indicates that the manufacturer has complied with the relevant EU safety requirements. You may not be able to glean this from an online image, but you can always ask the seller, and verify in person before you buy.
  • Even if the toy has met safety requirements, if it’s second-hand it will have had a certain amount of wear and tear that might have affected its safety (for example, if small parts have become loose or more easy for a child to pull off). This is why it’s so important that you inspect it first hand before buying.
  • If the toy has any material or stuffing, check that it is flame-resistant.
  • Although new toys are made with lead-free paint, not all older toys are. At the very least, make sure the paint is not flaking off from any part of the toy.
  • Check what age guidelines the toy comes with, particularly if it is not recommended for children under three and you have children of that age in your house (even if the toy is not for them).
  • Make sure it has no sharp edges, long cords or cables, or small detachable parts, as these can pose a choking hazard.
  • Be wary of toys with multiple magnets; if more than one is swallowed it can cause serious problems.
  • It may seem unlikely, but it’s worth doing a quick check that the toy hasn’t somehow missed a product recall. A quick Google search should be all you need; alternatively, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission keeps a list of all recalls on

Good, clean fun

After you buy the toy, it’s a good idea for health reasons to give it a thorough spruce-up, regardless how clean it appears.  

  • With soft toys, most will go in a washing machine without any risk of damage (it’s a good idea to put it in a mesh bag, pillow case or old pair of tights first to protect the machine from any small parts); if you want to be extra cautious, just use a disinfectant spray and a sponge.
  • If you’re concerned about dust mites on a soft toy, put it in the freezer overnight. This will kill any mites; you can then wash it afterwards.
  • With hard toys, simply use hot water and a disinfectant (making sure to remove any batteries first).