Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Are toy choices hard-wired?

From us, for Christmas, grandson Zach will get a Bob the Builder talking tool bench and helmet, plus the optional toolkit. I know… but you’re wrong. I had nothing to do with a decision cooked up between my wife and my daughter.

Nor do I know what a talking tool bench will say. However this bizarre present has set me thinking about how children perceive the real world and how they express this perception via their preference in toys. My toy-receiving years neatly coincided with WW2 when the few toys available were made of wood or lead. An alternative was something second-hand. I well remember disdaining a pitifully crude wooden Spitfire in preference for a used Dinkey toy. Why? Because the latter looked more realistic.

Later it was all change. As one of three brothers I found myself father of two daughters. I was adrift, faced with Barbie dolls and such. Barbie wasn’t realistic, though a model kitchen stove, bought later, was. But was the stove played with, did it appeal? I can’t remember. The situation became more blurred when my younger daughter developed a crush on the late F1 driver, Gilles Villeneuve, and requested a series of ever more authentic model Ferraris.

Given the way my life evolved it’s perhaps not surprising I wanted realistic toys. And perhaps this is a lad’s thing. Many young girls seem to prefer soft toys. Is this a girl’s thing? But is a doll’s house – a phase many girls pass through - a step towards realism?

For the record my other grandson, Ian, aged 24, has asked for a subscription to New Scientist but I think we can safely say he passed the floppy bunny vs. remote control helicopter dilemma some years ago.


Plutarch said...

What toys do you like? At the age of 75 I still can't resist anything that flies from kites to those little radio controlled helicopters that are so small and light that you can only use them indoors.

Relucent Reader said...

Static scale models are my toys, though my fellow modelers get irate when they are called "toys". I have known,le'see, 2 female modelers in my 40 year avocation, so I guess the gender tendency is in force.

Zhoen said...

I so wanted toy wooden cars, leggos and flying anything as a kid. I got plastic dolls and clothes and hated them. I did love soft toys, because I was afraid of the dark and I slept with them. Figured out that a lot of the games had good toy value, and that was sufficiently gender neutral to persuade my old fashioned relatives to not get any more stupid dolls for me.

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: I hesitate to raise this since it seemed to bring me to the attention of the blog police a few months ago, but toy guns exercise an appeal which I feel ashamed of. Also my sat-nav, although genuinely useful, especially in France, is more self-evidently a toy. Perhaps even more shame attaches to it given that it cost £650.

RR: By which I take it you mean, inter alia, a Hurricane with the correct squadron markings operating out of Hawkinge in August 1940. Non-enthusiasts sneer at that kind of thing but I've always regarded it as freezing a moment in history. I'm with you on this.

Zhoen: It's a tough reflection on growing up when a young person is compelled, for justifiable reasons, to search out "gender neutral" toys. Gosh, just remembered the most subversive toy of all: A Kiddie's Smoking Outfit. A manufacturer would do penitentiary time for bringing out that one in 2008.

occasional speeder said...

I also had a JPS Williams being towed by a Lotus Elan. Realistic? Psychedelic more like.