Basically, we embrace and try to follow most of the Waldorf principles about simplicity in general, and about avoidance of mass marketed, media-driven toys in particular. It's rather challenging, as we all know, in this modern world. I've been specifically wary of the over-hyped character type toys and clothing, and we have next to nothing of that sort in our home, but I recently had a bit of a learning moment.
While shopping at our local thrift store, my 26 month old went wild over a Minnie-mouse doll that she saw. So I let her hold it while we were in the store. Usually, I do this, but we tell the toy "bye bye" when leaving, which results in an upset toddler, but the problem ends at the store. This time, for some reason (mainly because my daughter was so emamored with Minnie, and because I was having a weak moment) I bought it for her. That was about 4 days ago, and she has been smitten with Minnie ever since. In hindsight, I realize it is because she recognized Minnie from a book we have at home (that I neglected to weed out), which I kept because it had pictures of trucks, but it has Mickey and Minnie too --- and she noticed. None of the other characters mean anything to her, but I guess this resonated because of that one book that she recognized from home.
Anyway, I've learned a few things from this -- mainly the infectious power of the character-driven tie-ins. I have no doubt she'd be clamouring for Minnie mouse shampoo, cereal, tennis shoes, etc., if she saw those too. I also learned that I need to develop some strategy for dealing with this. Am I going to have a hard line (no mass marketed stuff in the house?), or allow some of it. By buying the Minnie, I'm already allowing at least that. Honestly, I'm torn. My daughter seems to react with Minnie like she's an old friend -- this is different than she plays with her dolls and other animals. Also the toy is genius, it has backback straps so she can wear her around, which my daughter loves of course. 4 months ago, I'd probably just realize my mistake and confiscate Minnie when she isn't looking, and hope she forgets about it. Now, however, she remembers and looks for her Minnie when she wakes up. I think the obvious answer is to just relax about the Minnie and follow her lead with it, trusting it is a phase.
What to do when this issue arises in the future, however, is another story. Thoughts? How do you deal with this?