The modern system concept or system toys

Toys consisting of many small toy pieces, e.g. LEGO SYSTEM Town. Toys such as these have numerous individual parts which include houses, cars, functional figures or dolls, implements and workshops, etc. which can each be broken down into many constituent parts.

Other well-known systems include Playmobil, Fisher-Price and BRIO. A child can also build his own system concept often consisting of many widely differing toys which were not made to fit together.

System toys as brand names - with many individual constituent toy pieces - are popular with all children because they have a consistent style, a unified design which can help underline the system’s solid image of reality - or the fragments of roles and functions in everyday life. Play with different toy pieces put together in small or larger units is the child’s way of practising creating his own outlook on social and societal structures.

General systems appeal in particular to children aged 3-6 years where the child’s principal demand of their toys is that they “look like something”, that they are small copies of reality, good models, small implements, obvious constructions with clear and easily understood building instructions.

Complicated systems with particularly complex models and constructions begin to interest children - and especially boys - by the age of about six years. See chapter 8 - The toy classification.

Both system and construction toys refer to obvious, unequivocal structures which are intended to give the child a systematic insight into the mutual relationships between things. This is why there are only a few high quality completely structured system concepts on the toy market because such concepts require extremely clever product development and advanced production methods and technology.

It is “easier” to produce toys which function in isolation or to rely on the children - and their fantasy - to put their own toys together in their own personal play and toy system, beautifully described by Stevenson in his poem: “Block City”:

What are you able to build with your blocks?

Castles and palaces, temples and docks.

Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,

But I can be happy building at home.


Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet the sea.

There I’ll establish a city for me:

A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,

And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.


Great is the palace with pillar and wall,

A sort of tower on top of it all,

And steps coming down in an orderly way

To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.


This one is sailing and that one is moored:

Hark to the song of the sailors on board!

And see on the steps of my palace, the kings

Coming and going with presents and things!


Now I have done with it, down let it go!

All in a  moment the town is laid low.

Block upon block lying scattered and free,

What is there left of my town by the sea?


Yet as I saw it, I see it again,

The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men.

And as long as I live and where I may be,

I’ll always remember my town by the sea.

(Robert Louis Stevenson).



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