Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Annual Eggnog-Laced Rant on Toys - Part I

With Christmas only two weeks away I'm running a bit behind schedule on my annual eggnog-laced rant on modern toys. But never fear, after my last week who needs rum-spiked beverages to work oneself into an angry tizzy over greedy marketers who would sell sex toys to our kids if they thought they could get away with it?

Plus I've got a leg up this year, because I did a section on toy messages in my LICAC workshop a few weeks ago. So I can be lazy and worked-up at the same time. Whee!

For those of you who are new to Reign, I’ll fill you in on the method to my madness so you don't think I’m a complete nut job (partial maybe, but definitely NOT complete!). I do not have a problem with toys. I LOVE toys! We had lots of them growing up and spent many a magical afternoon playing out fantastical scenarios. I also work in the toy industry, so I have an understanding of what goes into creating great toys for kids. At the same time, I'm a promotional writer, so I've spent many hours studying consumer trends in order to speak to consumers in language that motivates them to make a purchase. So I'm not coming at this toy thing one-sided … I'm looking at it from all sorts of nutty angles.

But for the sake of space (and time, because I could easily go on all day…and no one wants that) I'll tackle one thing at a time. So today, I'll just give you some food for thought...

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really find big gender differences in baby toys? Children under 4 years of age don't give a damn what they play with. Boys and girls will play with a doll a car a box …an old shoe... they don't care. Their stimulation and learning comes from interacting with the world around them, and they're curious about everything. It's a beautiful time!

For a preschooler or a kindergartner on the other hand, gender is starting to come into play. Toy makers know this. Which is why once you move from the infant/toddler section of the toy department into the preschool section, things start to get very segmented…either the aisles are PINK PINK PINK or BLUE BLUE BLUE. For example…

Images from --LIFE Weekend Magazine, April 2007

Pretty striking, huh?

So what's the big deal? Oh dear, I've become faint with excitement and must now rest. In other words, tune in tomorrow for Part II.


Renée aka Mekhismom said...

These are great photos. I have seen several stories regarding toys and gender identity. I look forward to seeing your take on it.

Tracee said...

That's a hilarious illustration. True that!

My boy thinks pink is the "best color" because his older sister always wants it and we never say "pink is for girls." They both shout "I want pink!" when it comes to Popsicle.

But, my daughter tuned in on pink is for girls all by herself and is just barely able to see the beauty of blue. It's her new favorite color!

Mommy B said...

Thanks Rene. I came across those images in a Life Magazine that was in the Sunday paper last year. I don't even think they print that anymore! But the images were so striking I saved it.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's sitting around thinking about this stuff.

Mommy B said...

Glad you popped in Tracee. I'm always baffled by the whole pink/blue thing. Who came up with it in the first place? It seems to be a world wide thing.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin