Friday, August 31, 2012

The Changing Toys

Since returning from my childhood home, where a great many old photos and old toys were pulled out, I've become a little obsessed with how toys have changed.

I had Barbies when I was younger. One of them belonged to my mother. I would estimate my Barbie play went on for about 6 years. Here are the Barbies lined up, newest to oldest. Is it just me, or did Barbie's eyes get bigger while her eyebrows got higher and archy-er, even over the span of a few years? I'm almost tempted to go buy a new-new Barbie so I can compare her to the 1980s Barbie.

Barbies, newest (1980s?)  to oldest (1950s).

And then there are Lego men. My brothers' Lego men from the 1980s all had the same simple black line smile and black dot eyes. I can't even find a face that simple in Noah's collection. What does this say about us, as a society, or about toys? Does everything have to be a character-with-attitude? Or maybe toys are just more interesting and diverse now-a-days?

Noah says, about his Lego men versus his uncles' (older, less expressive) Lego men,
"I have the special kits while they had simple Legos."
Fritz asks,"You mean you have the Mental Health Upgrade?"

Tomorrow, I'm headed over to Target to pick up a My Little Pony for a friend's daughter birthday. My friend wasn't quite sure if it was My Little Pony or My Pretty Pony. I remembered My Little Pony from my own childhood, but I was feeling kind of out of my league (Hello, My name is Ann. I have boys.) so I hopped on the Target website to check the name. It IS My Little Pony,  but these ponies look different from the ones I know. The new ones are skinny by comparison. It seems super-inappropriate to take a girl-toy and make it skinnier, so I thought maybe I was remembering wrong. I dug up this photo of my brothers and I with Christmas loot, circa 1982.

[photo removed]

Do you see the pony? No? Let me zoom in a little bit and mess with the contrast and colors to see if I can make it stand out a little more:

Okay, go ahead, check out the Target website; it's totally true, they made the ponies taller and skinnier. I mean, REALLY, is this necessary? At least they didn't change the name to My Pretty Ponies (yet).

I think I must be getting old.


Dan and Amanda Meyer said...

I'm not so up to date on the Barbie and My Little Pony world, having 2 boys myself, but here's another Lego change: A lot more Legos in the sets are now molded into a special shape - instead of having to use the classic Legos to build that shape. Take the new dinosaur sets, for example. Al the dinosaurs so far have been pre-made (no assembly required). This disappoints me greatly. The whole point of playing with Legos is the building process.

Nothing that will shake the foundations of the world - just annoying.

Ann Wyse said...

We have some of those dinosaurs, too. And I agree, they're kind of annoying. Sometimes I wonder if the problem for Lego is one of price point and scale. Consider a dinosaur theme: they can sell more small boxes of Legos, with specific parts (i.e., dinosaurs) than they can big boxes of Legos with generic parts (many, many generic Legos to build something that approximates a dinosaur).

But sometimes, even though the boys have specific dinosaurs, they will still "build" their own dinosaurs (that look nothing like dinosaurs) out of generic blocks. So, I guess maybe their creativity isn't too impaired....

Pregnantly Plump said...

How funny! I bought a My Little Pony on clearance after Christmas for when the boys are invited to a girl party. It is skinnier, but I just assumed it was a teenager pony, while the ones I played with were the adults.
And those brat dolls are all eyes and big lips. They are very unrealistic.

Busy doing nothing said...

well, I have a 7 year old girl that recently became interested in My Little Pony Printables. so I googled them and was totally confused. the older ones were definitely bulkier:)