Perspectives concerning toys

The majority of definitions of what toys are cite a connection to one or more general definitions of play.

Toys are therefore often attributed widely varying significance and value, dependent on how the definitions of play or the person-at-play are formulated. Seeing a toy classification in an overall perspective can be difficult if the toys themselves are defined with reference to other general theories than the established theories concerning play. Alternative play theories have, as a rule, nothing at all to do with toys.

By toy classification we mean, therefore, the distribution of toys in a specific number of co-ordinate or subordinate subgroups. The classification is presented in the form of a structure which facilitates an overall perspective. What this book is about is not the stimulatory characteristics of the individual toy for a child’s general development. It is about which toys certain families with certain life styles select or deselect for play or social interaction.

Attempting to list objective criteria for assessing toys has always been a difficult thing to do. The integrity or falsity of the objective moment is formed on totally individual ideas about the characteristics of the toys the individual observer finds interesting. Furthermore, play with toys is always subject to changing conditions and takes place in different circumstances which call the objectivity of assessment into question.

Assessment research is motivated by control over toys, materials, educational aids and objects, equating these with play programmes and teaching plans. Such research takes the form of field studies of play and teaching, sometimes in the form of comprehensive research projects. Ethical and moral criteria are usually included as are criteria for advertising and marketing targeted at children.

Many industrially produced toys fail to live up to the definition “good toys”. They devaluate the respect accorded to the original object. The reason for this is that they are devoid of artistry and intellect.

  • Goodtoys stimulate the user on many different levels, encouraging physical, mental and intellectual perseverance, endurance and vision.
  • Goodtoys are not “too good” to be used and played with.
  • Many good toys can also be used in several alternative ways and in several capacities at one time and can possibly be combined with - or contribute to strengthening the merits of - other toys.
  • Goodtoys must meet one unconditional requirement: they have to be strong and durable.
  • In terms of aesthetic design, toys should preferably meet the needsof the user.


Research perspectives and questions

Global topics - local, cultural topics

Global topics

As with so many other suggestions for toy and play research topics, there is currently almost no data material available about the main subjects and tables in this book. For this reason, Appendix 4 supplies the following data:

Summary of information and data which is intended to inspire new research within the following areas:

  • complete bibliographic surveys of toy research
  • international toy sales statistics
  • toy market “globalisation” - trends and consequences
  • genderdifferences in play with toys and in toys
  • the effect of play with toys on cognitive and creative development
  • war toysand co-operative toys
  • cultural differences in play with and utilisation of toys.

Local cultural topics

See appendix 4.

Appendix 4 also includes a survey of topics which could be the subject of basic research into toys and play. Several of the topics will be researched for the very first time.

Technical production is international which means that the same products are found all over the globe. National and regional products disappear and this means that not only our world but also the children’s world of play is shrinking, becoming stereotype and limited in scope.

However, eradicating the incredible, beautiful differences in national cultures and styles also vulgarises and impoverishes the true value of objects and obliterates essential traditional, historical and local historical values. In other words, the loss of cultural differences means the end of society’s multiplicity and the death of the good story.



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