LEADER: Instructions not included

This week, Billy Langsworthy looks at how inventors' creations are really played with behind closed doors.
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No matter what toy or game you create, it's worth remembering that chances are it will only remain played with as intended for a handful of kids.

How many actually play with toys as intended? I didn't.

I'd bet that at least 50 per cent of everyone who owned a Girls World Styling Head ended up turning her into someone resembling Billy Zane.

Who hasn't taken the face cards from Guess Who and hung them around Jimmy Squarefoot's imaginary mansion as self portraits (he was a Monster in My Pocket, in case you were wondering).

I used the cage from Mousetrap, the plastic rods (doubling up as spears) from KerPlunk and a Smurfette toy I'd got free with a pack of Frosties to regularly recreate scenes from Indiana Jones with my Woody action figure (Toy Story, not Allen).

Someone who shall remain nameless used an Action Man Amazone Dingy to send his sister's Sylvanian Families Sea Otter Family on a adventure across a pond (Alright, this one comes from Rob and he's sorry to report that it sank and there were no survivors).

Another colleague was banned from her Tiny Tears doll after repeatedly using it to practice breastfeeding, rather than for the intended nappy changing, bottle-feeding and general snuggling.

So, it's worth bearing in mind that in spite of the instructions, play rules and general straightforwardness you'd expect to accompany most creations, when a toy or game finally gets behind closed doors, all bets are off.


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This week, a conversation with a LEGO designer reveals the value of persistence when carving out a career as a toy inventor.

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