Toys of Today vs Toys of Yesterday… What will the Future bring?

12 May


Toys of Yesterday


Wouldn’t it be great to start out old and grow younger as we age? How do we compare the toys of yesterday to those of today? It is a matter of generational thinking, as well as the needs and wants of children. Not so long ago toys were simple, well built and served a purpose—then you would put them away. What we can learn from the toys of the past is play patterns and how to “learn as we play,” and to take that combination into the future. We all remember our favorite Barbie, Hot Wheels car, and board game to this day. The history of toys is made up of all sorts of contrasts and lies somewhere between the needs of the child, the interest of the historian, the desire of the collector, and last but not least, the involvement of the adult in his childhood, the magic world from which he can not bear to be excluded forever by the mere act of growing up. I know this all too well being a Dad of a 4 year old and a 2 year old.


Toys of Today


The toys of today are changing. The economy, technology and the internet, as well as people’s lives, have a great influence over toys. As a working Dad, I know this every day. Technology, the internet and today’s fast paced lifestyles has given us the need for more sophisticated toys that really challenge our kids’ imaginations, skills and knowledge. Toys have become more than just a fun thing to pass the time, but a way to learn, grow and experience life with a good, creative, fun, affordable and reliable toy. In the past, a toy would take up to two years to take to market. Now, toys are conceived, designed, manufactured and distributed within six months.


Today’s toys have changed in many ways such as safety, style, play value, manufacturing, retail distribution, cost, as well as brand awareness. The toy companies think like kids, adults, and educators. Toys of the present will soon be toys of the past. What kids can learn from the toys of today is to “learn as they play” and to take that combination into the future with them.


I often observe children playing in schoolyards, playgrounds and classrooms, and spend time at toy stores, take trips to museums, art galleries, hobby shows, antique shops and libraries. My children find that skills are learned and creativity is experienced. The toys of the present day rely on all sorts of play patterns from fantasy, language, motor-skills, thinking, perceiving and creating.


Combing the past, present and future of toys with the needs and wants of children is key. Since infancy, my children have played with many different toys. They are an essential form of education for them. My children have separate needs and wants, they want to learn how to solve problems on their own, and need to. The nature of toys is compounded with pleasure, fantasy and imitation. Toys are a “starter kit for life” and learning to face what is ahead of them in life. Ask yourself What, When, Where, Who, Why and How children play with toys. Who chooses the toys your children play with? Is it genetic, philosophical, psychological or the past, present and future aspects that chooses the toy? Creativity in play is a form of intelligence for children.


Toys of the Future


The future of toys is pressing towards the combination of the past, present and future with generational thinking, philosophy and psychology. Basically all the aspects of life to teach a child what they will need later on. The technology of toys is increasing, as well as the needs and demands of the world. The character of a toy with its functions and mechanics gives the utmost variety to creativity, as well as the imagination of the child. It will teach children to be themselves and to unlock their own special ways of uniqueness, to teach them ways of manipulation and production of a theater of life, to show them options and possible solutions to problems. Are the toys of the past of actuality? Are the toys of the present of fantasy, and will the toys of the future be both? We will soon see.


Here are ten features of a “Good Toy” that have stayed with us over the years.


Ten Features of a Good Toy


1. Fun to use

2. Interesting to the child

3. Is safe and durable

4. Stimulates creativity and imagination

5. Encourages inquisitiveness and resourcefulness

6. Is a tool for learning

7. Is challenging yet not frustrating

8. Invites repeated use

9. Involves child interaction

10. Addresses developing needs


About the Blogger:

Peter Wachtel (aka) KID Toyology is an award winning creative toy and entertainment designer, inventor and teacher. He has designed more than 500 products for the Toy, Entertainment and Design Education industries many of which can be found at Peter was recently the Chair/Academic Director & Design Instructor at Ai Hollywood for Graphic & Industrial Design, and has taught Toy Design at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and Otis College of Art & Design.


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