May 3, 2012

Toys, Then and Now

Thinking about this month's NaBloPoMo theme, "Play," has gotten me thinking about how the way my kids play is different from how I played as a child. Of course, I was a girl who mostly played with my sister, so naturally there would be some differences between how we played and how my two boys play with each other. But the more I try to think of differences, the more similarities I seem to find.

Thirty years after my childhood, I notice they like a lot of the same things I did:

Board Games
Action figures (for them, for me it was dolls)



Markers & paints

What's different?

  • The graphics on a lot of the board games are updated (e.g. Candy Land), and not always for the better, IMO. The little plastic pieces on a lot of games are also more detailed, thanks to computer-aided design and manufacturing.
  • The Legos are much fancier
  • Thanks to advances in materials technology, the action figures are less expensive and more detailed. They can talk and light up - and those are just the ones that come with Happy Meals.
  • The range of inexpensive dress-up clothes and props is vastly wider than it was in my childhood: cheap foam swords and plastic knight's armor; sparkly, shiny fairy costumes; inexpensive fabric superhero outfits better than anything I could have bought in a store way back when.
  • The Play-doh comes in more colors
  • The proliferation of stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby gives kids access to an array of art and craft supplies that I could only dream about as a girl

Advances in technology (not to mention cheap overseas labor) have given my children wonderful toys to play with. But in the end, the way they play with them is really not much different from how I played with my low-tech, non-sparkly, non-speaking toys. The toys still require imagination to make them work.

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