I've read this thread with interest, because, of course, after the holidays, some "not ideal" toys have made it into our household. DS is only 7 months, but, intuitively, I found myself leaning toward wooden and fabric toys in general because I, personally, find them more well-made, aesthetically beautiful, and open-ended. Also, it's the kind of toy I remember having at home. My parents are German, and therefore I had a lot of German toys, so, to me, those toys are what "childhood" looks like. I did have Barbies, and my mother hated it, but she did also make clothes for them, like an elaborate cheongsam.
As parents, we offer all kinds of judgments about behavior, etc.... if the way a toy is made, looks, etc. is important to you as a person why should you not have a right to pass that aesthetic sense on to your children? Everything one gives one's child is an indirect statement as to what we think is OK or not. The Hummers are an interesting situation because it's not only the TYPE of toy (battery-operated, plastic, huge) but the OBJECT it represents (a very expensive, gas-guzzling car) that I'm inferring you object to.
I think the topic is philosophically not confined to whether you're a Waldorf parent or not. We do go to Waldorf class now, and it has reinforced how I feel about toys. I want them to have a certain integrity. We'll see how Waldorf goes for us, because I do feel a bit uncomfortable about a school "telling" me how to dress my child, what toys to give them, etc. However, for the moment I am looking at Waldorf as a place that reinforces the way I feel about certain things and I like the feeling that at least at school, DS will not be pressured to have the newest plastic superhero. I'm not terribly concerned about the stray "objectionable" toy because I don't want to confer a mystique on "the unobtainable." But, in the end, my #1 complaint about those kinds of toys is that they're all about *consumption* and marketing. Hummer being a great case in point.
Another problem with toys like Barbie, Thomas, Masters of the Universe, etc is that they're designed to sell more stuff..... kids start wanting *every* Barbie, accessory, etc not only because they're marketed it, but also because kids are naturally interested in collecting things. My parent's rule was if I really wanted something, I could have *one* Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake character or whatever and that was it. I'd rather have my child collect shells or wildflowers and learn about biology rather than 50 polyster outfits (or even fancy wooden playfood for that matter).
As for what to do when someone gives you something objectionable: it depends on the thing. A Hummer? Personally, I'm not sure I could do it just because of the TYPE of car. I'd just phase out the toy. I don't think it's necessarily worth a confrontation with family, but I am a little surprised that they'd give it to you.... Who gives a Waldorf-schooled child a Hummer for Christmas??? I'd take the passive-aggressive approach and just keep nudging them in the right direction when the opportunity arises.
I liked one of the PP's suggestions to offer catalogs. One of the problems with Waldorfy toys is that it can be hard to find them in person, and, understandably, grandparents like to choose toys in person. My mother bought a few things at a craft fair, which I thought was a great idea.
Chloe -- What you posted seemed like reasonable, well-thought-out debate to me. I haven't posted a lot on THIS particular board, but I've got over a thousand posts on another board, so I'm familiar with how these things go, and I can say that when I'm an OP I just love getting *responses* so I'd be thrilled if my post kicked off a lively discussion, which hopefully, we can all get back to now.