The manufactured dimension of the toy
A child’s “naïve” manufacture of an object into a useful toy is one thing; the toy maker’s craftsmanship, insight and traditions are another but industrial techniques are a third, completely different thing - because they are what makes today’s toys “modern”.
As with the artist and the inventor, the child’s creative action is universal. The child’s creativity is, however, subjected to child-romantic currents and theories about children’s (and Mankind’s) lost childhood and innocence because others take the liberty of assaulting something so basic as the production of “the instruments of the child and of childhood”.
The attitude is often apparent and directs its attentions to a frontal assault on the large, multinational toy suppliers. The attitude is reminiscent of the saboteurs of the 17th century, who - for fear of losing the traditional methods and instruments of production and traditional markets, sabotaged the new machines instead of integrating them as alternatives - for the sake of the “case” rather than of the “element”.
Quite another matter is that children are still producing the most incredible things within the category “toys” and will continue to do so as long as Mankind exists.
18th century and partly also 19th century enthusiasm for the craftsman as the saviour of the cultural norm and employment demonstrates the entire question of “ability and experience”.
Ability and experience are put into objects and the person-at-play feels pleased about this. This is “a double transgression” - an amalgam of the concept of usefulness with something cult-like and a union of the artistic with the religious. Even now, at the end of this century, objects produced by craftsmen still enjoy greater prestige and sympathy than industrial products.
One of the most significant reasons for this is to be found in the role of the craftsman as a compromise between Art and industrial production.
Another very significant reason is that the craftsman and the artist - through close co-operation between them - are able to operate a form of industrial production of a limited number of original products without compromising the crafted identity of the products.
Many industrially produced objects (toys) fail to live up to the above-mentioned aesthetic definition: they are grossly ugly! They devaluate respect accorded to the original object. The reason for this is that they are devoid of artistry and intellect.
Technology’s processes are international which means that products are the same everywhere. The national and regional characteristics of things disappear, thus making not only the world itself but also the world of play a smaller, stereotyped and limited place to be. Steamrollering the beauty and diversity of national cultures and styles vulgarises and impoverishes the true value of the objects and erases the necessary traditional historical and local historical value. Quite simply, it brings an end to social diversity and to the good story on its own merits.
A return to the child producing his own toys - which is a precondition for later co-operation between artist and craftsman - establishes conditions under which industrially produced toys might come to include the qualities described in this section.