Have Toys Gotten Boring?



“Top toymakers have banked on what's safe, clutching onto classics that were hits back when today's grown-ups were kids.”       

Nin-Hai Tseng, CNN News

The toy industry is having a pretty rough year.  One of the reasons may be that the toy department has become boring.  I found two articles that, when put together, illuminate the problem and offer some solutions.

The Fortune article, “Why there are no new toys for Christmas,” notes that the toy industry is set to have its worst year in the last 30 and the author, Nin-Hai Tseng, blames it on a lack of creativity. 


The other article, an interview entitled “Chaos is Good for You,"  is written by Linda Geddes for Slate magazine.  The interview subject is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan and Antifragile: How To Live in a World We Don't UnderstandTaleb writes about the importance of uncertainty in making people, businesses and systems stronger.

The article by Tseng, points the finger at playing it safe as the reason the toy industry has seen its revenue numbers decline.  He writes:  “top toymakers have banked on what's safe, clutching onto


 classics that were hits back when today's grown-ups were kids. Think of the 1960s classic Easy Bake Oven by Hasbro (HAS), which re-launched in 2007; My Little Pony, which debuted in 1983… And remember Mr. Potato Head? The plastic mix-and-match potato was big in the 1950s and continues to sell in the millions today.”

I think Mr. Tseng may well be right about the toy industry at large playing it safe and I think he is certainly right about Hasbro which makes the aforesaid Easy Bake Oven, My Little Pony and Mr. Potato Head.  Simply put, any industry that keeps repurposing its past is going to eventually become boring.

We'll look at that as well as the importance of risk, chaos and change in my next posting.

2 thoughts

  1. Some toys are boring, but when I found WowWee’s “Flip Force” toy cars I was impressed with the design. I know as I kid I would have loved these auto-transforming, two-in-one toy cars. I wrote two Flip Force reviews — http://www.battlegrip.com/?p=43979 http://www.battlegrip.com/?p=43820 — and I think these are anything but boring.
    Parents with kids who love toy cars should really look into this line.
    Is it that toys are boring, or that the little guys with some neat new toys just aren’t getting out on shelves?

  2. Great point.
    However, I think the sophistication and updated nature of these toys is in the connectivity. Furby is smarter and connects to apps. Nerf lazer tag uses iphones to connect with the guns and bring high tech to an iconic brand.
    These are just a few examples of where the creativity comes in. It’s not the physical toy that is the star anymore, but it’s the connectivity, the social-ness, and software that’s making them more creative.

Leave a Reply