COUNTER INSURGENT: Excessive toy packaging

This month, our High Street retailer tackles the hot topic of excessive packaging on toys.
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I guess with the new government, it was only a matter of time before the agenda returned to packaging. Are we that bad? Compared with the food industry, I would argue that we are.

I had a quick look around the shop and yes there are cases of excessive packaging, but I think it has improved over the past few years. Boxed games in the main are in smaller boxes; action figures are on smaller cards. I know the figures are often smaller, but not in all cases.

You could argue that with so much stock imported from far-off lands, it is in the industry’s interest to keep packaging sizes to the minimum. But somehow that might not be an argument the government would want to hear.

Some manufactures like us to think it is them having corporate responsibility as it costs less to ship, uses less packaging etc, etc. As it comes from a factory probably in China, I’m afraid the carbon footprint is not a lot different right now.

I have noticed perhaps the worst for excessive packaging was own label. A quick look around the local supermarkets, nursery retailers and nationals made it very apparent that the big box was king for some.

I do understand the need for a ‘try me’ pack on certain toys. How else do you get over the features on a toy, with lights, sound and movement? Well being clever and imaginative is one way.

Tickle me Elmo was a great pack – a simple flap to lift up made the consumer want to know more. I realise Elmo only comes in one design, but it allowed the box to be about half the size and also meant the toy didn’t get shop soiled.

An area of toy packaging I do agree is excessive is plastic coated wire. Some toys require machinery like angle grinders and heavy-duty wire clippers to get through to the toy. Its not just the amount of twists, it’s the ones tucked under with a double twist that frustrate the hell out of me, so imagine how a consumer feels.

I still wonder if some of the returns we get are because a frustrated child, trying hard to release the toy, has just ripped it out of the packaging and broken it.

Closed boxes can work with a little imagination. You can instantly show the consumer the toy being played with and how to play with it. Lego have to be good at this, because of the actual product (it’s just a shame the boxes are so oversized). A picture showing a child playing with the toy or even just a hand to give a sense of scale, would cut out the need to have a window box with loads of wires holding the toy in place.

Besides, we all know, some toys are best left covered up.

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