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Top of the Toys: Do top toy lists hurt the industry?

We’re coming to the time of year where everyone is making their predictions on this year’s top 10 toys, and I roll my eyes and wonder when the toy industry, and the public will stop being so lazy. It is impossible to name 10 toys that are absolutely the best toys for all children this Christmas.

Children of different ages, interests and abilities all need a balance of play opportunities and not just the latest products that have marketing teams chucking the big bucks at retailers to include it in their top 10 list.

Even the most respected Dream Toys list is curated from the votes of toy retailers, not children or parents, so it’s difficult to avoid feeling a little cynical about it.

I know we all need to make a living and I love working in the toy industry, but I do sometimes wonder when the last time some of the big execs and sales reps actually played with any of the toys.

Toy lists disadvantage the smaller inventors and retailers.

Dr Amanda Gummer

I love watching children thoroughly engaged in their play, or seeing them break out into spontaneous, uncontrollable giggles, or see that beam that comes across their face when they master something new. There are so many benefits to playing that we should be protective of our industry’s reputation as the good guys, and not let our work be devalued by cynical marketing gimmicks.

My other issue with these lists are that they disadvantage both the smaller independent inventors – their products are rarely featured in these lists, despite often being innovative and engaging products, and the independent retailers – they are lower down the priority order for products in short supply due to higher than expected demand.

Parents also need to take a bit of the blame for the proliferation of these lists – while they are time poor and stressed, wanting a quiet life, they are more susceptible to them, (who doesn’t like life to be made a bit easier), and instead of seeing the lists for what they are, they use them as shopping lists, thus perpetuating the cycle as the lists clearly work for retailers.

If parents take a bit more interest in their children’s development and not just give in to pester power, or assume that the toys on the list will help children ‘fit in’ or be more popular, the lists would lose some of their power and toy companies would spend more time making sure their products were really ‘good toys’.

Surely we should be teaching our children that judgements about a person’s character should not be based on whether or not they have the latest toy or designer trainers. So my plea – can we give those lists a little less air time this Christmas? 

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