Published On: Mon, Dec 10th, 2012

Toy Companies They Got Us Good

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

Toy Companies They Got Us Good

Be our kids naughty or nice this year, we all tend to spoil them rotten when it comes to toys at Christmas, and no one knows this better than the leading brand toy companies. These companies have made their millions out of us guilt driven parents and will continue to do so. Like it or not, toy companies have found an amazing formula for getting you good and digging into your pockets time and time again. It’s not the pretty packaging or even the two for one deal. It’s not the fact that your child says everyone in the world has one but them, or even that there is a hit TV show associated with the toy, no, it’s the collection. The want or need by children and their parents to collect all in the set. Sets that are cleverly designed to constantly expand and change. Beware of that buy one get one free thing, toy companies know if you have more than one, you are now on your way to starting a collection!

This of course is not a new concept, we just have to look back to our own childhood in the 70’s and 80’s where Matchbox Cars, Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake doll sets come to mind. In the 70’s there wasn’t too much around to collect compared to the 80’s. It seems it was a slow realisation by toy companies that creating sets was a magic formula to get children and parents buying. I am a sucker for collecting things especially toy sets, but it’s not my fault! I can’t help it if every episode Ben 10 discovers he has a new alien in him! How convenient. Just when you think your set is complete, nooooooo, a new character appears on the scene. Now you might be thinking that an attached TV show to a toy makes it highly successful, but this alone still does not make the toy a winner. Littlest Pet Shop has no TV show attached, yet is a highly successful toy collection. Kids and parents want to collect, and not many companies get them doing this better than Hasbro. Well, okay Lego you got me there. You guys are pretty darn great at this too. So good in fact, that if I want Queen Amidala I have to go and purchase one of the expensive packs to get her for my sons collection even if we are not fussed on the other pieces in the box. I also think it’s absolute genius that we are provided with a number of different types of Thomas the Tank Engine train sets to buy, each with their own bits and pieces that are specific to that type of product, for example. You can buy the Thomas wooden set, diecast or the blue track trains. They are all trains with track and all of course with the same train characters, but for some reason, Mattel feels we need all these different types of tracks that will only fit the matching engines! There are also a mountain of different types of Lightning McQueen small metal cars out there too with the smallest of difference, but different all the same.

Toy companies like to also regurgitate old toys. I have just discovered that My Little Pony figures now have a new look and seem far more slender than when Bella was collecting them only around 3 years ago. If your child is pony mad then I guess you will be starting your collection all over again. But wait! Let there be no throwing out or giving away of old My Little Ponies without checking ebay first! Did you know that old pony with the now scruffy looking tail could bring you in a pretty penny? More than $100 in fact for the right pony.

I pack my kids collections away when they have grown out of them. I always have intentions of selling them off on ebay, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. They have such great memories attached to them that it feels like betrayal! “Thank you so much Thomas and James for making my child smile so much but now it’s goodbye”. I just can’t do it. I have visions of Will passing these smiles onto his own children through the same Thomas and James. Nutty yes but that’s how it is for me. Now here is a girl that could not part with her Barbie stuff for 30 years. I saved them for my daughter you see, who unfortunately for Mattel poo poo’s Barbies, as I would of happily purchased her every new Barbie item Mattel could throw at us. Hasbro’s gain, as the My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop figures became her first loves.

As a teacher I see many children. From watching their everyday play and chatting with them, it seems to me that the less TV a child watches, the less obsessed with collections they can be. In my opinion, this makes perfect sense, as with less exposure to TV trends comes a lack of desire for the latest and greatest collections. Before you purchase a toy belonging to a set, ask yourself if you could see yourself being happy to ever buy another from that set. If the answer is no, then don’t buy even just one of them.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright Mummy Weekly 2012
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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