A Toy’s Story


Posted Tue, Apr 30, 2013

Toys are a staple part of all cultures.

Toys have been around for more than 32 centuries and show no signs of becoming any less popular today. In fact, the toy industry makes about $21 billion in sales every year in the United States alone.  From a cynical standpoint, toys are just a waste of money and a way to keep children busy when adults no longer know how to deal with their antics. But in reality, toys and games help children develop life skills and learn to express themselves in ways they might not be able to yet.

People buy toys.

Toys have been a part of human history forever. Toys from centuries ago can help people now, understand what society back then was like because toys are a perfect mirror of society and lives of a certain period and provide the history of mankind. Despite toys having been around for ages, the mass use of them is a relatively new development.  Kids used to be working when they were 6 or 7 years-old because they were needed around the farm, or later in factories, but would play very simple games—such as marbles— when they could. Toys were mostly reserved for the use of the upper-class, who could afford the time to let their children play “make believe.”

In the 1800s adults began to celebrate childhood and let their children play more. It is interesting to think that the toys most commonly known now were not around for some children to play with only 100 years ago. Some of the most famous toys were only developed in the 20th century alone: including Barbie 1959, Play-Doh 1956, Teddy Bear 1902, GI Joe 1960s, Monopoly 1933, Mr. Potato Head 1952; the list is incredible. Some of these toys are not considered toys today, but classic parts of childhood development— a necessity.


Through toys, those who study the history of them can see what the means of transportation were: prior to the 1800s it was a horse and wagon, then bicycles, trains, cars, airplanes, now there are spaceships. Toys used to be made of simple materials such as wood, bone, clay, stone or cloth, but the material of toys is not the only part that has changed over the past century.

Children used to actually play with homemade toys, or toys that heavily relied on their imagination. Today kids play with video games or play online, or any kind of toy that moves by itself is appealing to today’s kids. Through the history of toys, toy marketers can see what was popular then and compare it to what is popular now to determine what kinds of toys to sell to the public in the future.

Once a toy is sold and brought home, what happens to it then?

A doll can become a girl’s best friend; a BB gun can help a little boy take out his frustration by shooting cans off a fence post. For children the possibilities for toys are endless.

Girls, in general, prefer to play with toys that can reflect their motherly instincts— such as playing house, school teacher, mother— all of the games that help their imagination allow them to become little adult moms. Statistically “two Barbie dolls are sold every second,” showing just how popular dolls are to little girls. Boys, on the other hand, generally prefer more war-based or violent games. This is why when GI Joe came out in the 1960s it was such a success, and why there are so many violent games today that appeal to boys such as Call of Duty. Toys that provide a creative outlet for frustration and anger appeal to boys; also this is why sports are popular.

Toys can help kids learn their ABCs, numbers, colors, and even develop problem-solving skills and enhance development.  Through the use of toys as outlets in play, children can learn, grow, and have fun beyond their imagination.

In the end, it is not about how flashy and exciting a toy is, but about the relationship formed between a child and a cherished plaything.

 Grace Holton is a passionate and seasoned toy expert, a legacy she inherited  from her grandfather, one of the industry’s top  professionals.

About Grace Holton

Grace Holton is a Broadcast Journalism Major at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Grace Holton

3 Responses to “A Toy’s Story”

  1. Davy Says:

    This is a fun story. I like the headline, it is very clever.


  2. Aaron Lambert Says:

    Fun story!! I love toys! It could probably benefit from being broken up a little more, and it would be nice to have visuals!! Well-written, though!! 🙂


  3. J.R. Johnson Says:

    Really cool story filled with lots of interesting info. Nice job!


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