Toys Are Dying, And It's All Video Games' Fault

Toys Are Dying, And It's All Video Games' Fault

That's the gist of a great piece in The New Yorker, which looks at falling profits at both Mattel and Hasbro and knows exactly where to point the finger. Rather than angling this as some kind of terrible omen, however, writer Ted Trautman takes the sensible approach, outlining just why kids are leaving dolls and action figures (both of which are experiencing a decline in sales) behind.

The short answer: video games are just better entertainment. Kids can play them by themselves, they've got a baked-in story (as opposed to toys like Transformers, which relied/rely on an external narrative) and are available everywhere they go, from their phones and tablets to consoles.

What's more, thanks to stuff like Skylanders and Disney Infinity, the lines between toys and games are even blurring; though huge sales of those series are a boon to the games business, not toy companies, since the figures count as games accessories, not action figures.

THE TROUBLE WITH TOYS [The New Yorker]


Comments

    Clearly the solution to this is more BOARD GAMES.

    Help us Wil Wheaton, you're our only hope.

      Hear, hear!

      edit: What have you been playing lately Trjn?

      Last edited 13/02/14 10:43 am

        I just moved, so the only game I've busted out in the last two weeks was Qwirkle when we were spending the night at a friend's place.

        She really got into it. It turns out that if you keep yelling Qwirkle with a German accent, the game (which is already rad) becomes even better.

    poor Wheeljack

      Windcharger gets NO love in that shot lol

        it's all about Wheeljack in that pic :P

          Cliffjumper is the one who gets no love in that pic... Everyone is too focused on Wheeljack

            That's not Cliffjumper. Cliffjumper was a red bumblebee, he had horns on his head. That's Windcharger.

            Here's Cliffjumper:
            http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-A3BdonAXKq4/Tg85eD88gAI/AAAAAAAAAIk/tPXow-fjJ9s/s1600/240px-Cliffjumper-cartoon.jpg

            Here's Windcharger:
            http://www.ntf-archive.de/Pics/GIF/Transformers-Windcharger.gif

          *kicks ground* *mutters* Yeah. You're right. My parents were just tightarses. I wanted Wheeljack but they bought me windcharger. I just had to pretend he was cool instead. lol.

            The only one I remember actually buying was Slingshot. All my other ones just kind of appeared hahaha

            My parents came back from Asia when I was pretty young with gifts for myself and various family friends. Gave Starscream to some other kid and gave me Cyclonus instead. :(

          It's the only scene he gets in the entire movie! Wasn't even given the dignity of an on-screen death, you just see his body.

          I went into the Transformers movie completely blind, expecting something along the lines of Megatron coming up with some crazy convoluted plot and then Wheeljack coming in with some insane awesome device in the nick of time and saving the day. :(

            The movie was different that's for sure. I must go through the whole series again at some point.

            I'm also strangely compelled to go and buy some figures as well. I should hunt down the Aerialbots and the Stunticons and make the combiners fight. That was one of my favourite episodes

              Masterpiece Wheeljack is releasing in Japan in August if that strikes your fancy.

        Poor Windcharger. He survived a fall into a pit full of crystals, and ends up getting killed anyway =

        Wheeljack was secretly the best G1 character and no one cares about Windcharger in any shot.

          Lies and fabrications.

          Everyone knows that Brawn was easily the greatest G1 character ever.

    What? Since I started earning an income I've bought more toys then I had as a kid!

    Im only here because I wanted to comment on that Wheeljack picture. Makes me happy Im not the first

    Maybe if toys were better quality....? Maybe they need some other inspiration other than following film titles for their toys. And I totally agree, more boardgames and no amero crappy ones.

    Toys suck. Video games, board games, and Lego are all kids need. Lego isn't a toy. It's a lifestyle.

    Ummm no. Have you seen the prices of Action Figures these days? $15, $20, $25+ for basic figures from Transformers, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other lines. Toys have been priced out of children's price ranges so of course they can't buy them. Gone are the days of the $5 toy. Even LEGO is over priced. $20 for a tiny set! It's insane!

      I remember $7-10 for GI-JOE action figures and then $5 for the El-cheapo "The Corps" and then GI-Joe Vehicles starting at $20. I also remember the $5 dollar Lego boxes and when Happy Meals came with those same lego boxes

      But children have NEVER bought the toys, it's always the parents. Lego hasn't gotten more expensive, you just think it has because you're the one paying for it now.

      http://therealityprose.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/what_happened_with_lego/

    I kinda wonder how badly Hasbro would be doing if it weren't for My Little Pony. While gross income and sales of toys targeted at boys both dropped, sales of toys targeted at girls rose by more than 15%.

    Its a sad day when my younger brother comes to me with a bumblebee transformer asking how it works.

    THIS INTERUPTS HIS PLAY TIME. When your toys are battling one another you don't want to spend 15 minutes working out how they transform.

    Even worse I couldn't figure it out myself.

      Main problem there, is the new Bayformers Transform in such retarded ways. The worst transformer back when I was a kid was Grimlock because he rotated at the waist for his legs. All the others were pretty straight forward. These days they're so finnicky and stupid. Optimus Prime had the perfect transforming method, now the new ones? So horrendous and terrible it's disgusting.

        Oh yeh I agree. Ahh the old school transformer toys. Optimus - legs come down, arms pop out, head flips up. They rereleased a lot of those older transformer toys years back.

          *hugs his 30th annaversiry Metroplex*

        When I went into the store to buy my Optimus Prime figure based on the War for Cybertron videogame, I noticed that all toys were marked in levels of "difficulty" of how complicated that version was to transform. So level 1 toys were simple bend and twist while level 4 were like a puzzle, which were fun for me to play around with.

        Except for Bayformers which look stupid.

    Almost related, I fiinished reading a book called "Toyland: The High-Stakes Game of the Toy Industry" a little while ago. It's pretty old, but interesting to read about the massive toy industry just as video games started coming into the picture.

    Plus it's mostly about how the DinoRiders toys were made. That's the real reason I read it.

    There haven't been any decent toy lines in years. You need good quality, aesthetically pleasing toys and a well made cartoon to get people interested. Today's toys look like they're made in the cheapest, most shoddy way possible. I can't think of anything since like ninja turtles that we saw a decent line. Good cartoon but the toys weren't really on the same level.

    I think Ben10 has been doing okay for the littlies?

    While I liked Astroboy, I don't count the Japanese pokemonesque cartoons as worthy. There was a whole terrible era of that rubbish on TV.

    Power Rangers makes me cry.

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you guys have already mentioned in regards to The Transformers. The toys and shows have been appalling for as long as I can remember. The exceptions I'm aware of are the Transformers Prime show, which were accompanied by ugly toys, and the awesome Masterpiece Transformers, which can be pretty tricky to transform.

    Michael Bay makes me cry also.

    Any Masters of the Universe fans? The MOTU Classics line is pretty sweet if you can afford to pay a fortune on EBay tracking them down.

    Anyone watch Toy Hunter?

      The masterpiece line practically requires a degree in engineering to transform: Megatron in particular is a remarkable excersie in how to make something that could be simple, amazingly difficult.

    Well to be completely fair, all the Transformers toys now absolutely suck. Kids don't even look at them on the shelves anymore.

    Where's my masterpiece Galvatron?

    Mattel had the intelivision and the 8bit Nintendo licence in the west, and Hasbro bought Atari's properties in the 90's, so they have dabbled.

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