The toys we played with as kids also help define which generation we belong to– they become cultural touchstones. (I knew I was getting a little bit older when the several pr folks told me about their own Cabbage Patch Dolls and My First Ponys.)You may be interested to know that some of the toys many of us enjoyed as kids, are hitting significant milestones:Lego – 50 yearsCabbage Patch- 25 yearsMy Little Pony – 25 yearsHot Wheels- 40 yearsEasy-Bake Oven- 45 yearsScrabble – 60 yearsTrivial Pursuit- 25 yearsHard to imagine a time when there wasn’t Scrabble!
Perhaps one of the upsides to our collective focus on toy safety this year–the absence of a hot toy. With the news cycles focusing on the latest recalls, there really hasn’t been room for soft and fuzzier stories about the hot toy. As much as Elmo tried, he couldn’t giggle his way to center stage this season.
While we often have some hot toys on our list, most know that featuring the heavily promoted toy of the season isn’t our function. The reality is that a hot toy is not necessarily a great toy and certainly not a toy for everyone. A few years ago when Furby took off (in large part to a pre-market article in Wired Magazine) we were struck by the number of people trying to hunt Furby down for their kids–even though Furby’s gremlin like character would be frightening to most younger kids. Even though no child had played with the Furby when the article put the creature on the map. Quickly we learned that “hot” often has more to do with adult collectors on Ebay than a truly kid-driven craze. It can happen (Beanie babies, Cabbage Patch, the original Tickle Me Elmo!)– but they are few and far between (as most toy makers will tell you).
Now we’re left to wonder as we look around our homes—not whether we have the hot toy–but whether we have safe toys.