The aim and intention of this book is to identify the toys children and their parents in the decade leading to the year 2000 prefer to play with. Apparently, certain things are more valuable and important for some children than for others!
In connection with children’s and their parents’ purchase and play with certain types of toys (on occasions where children would give their eye-teeth to have a specific toy product), I often wonder: Do children use toys to help them to learn about life via the fictions through which they interpret it?
There is no doubt in my mind that, from a very early age (three years old and in many cases much earlier), children demonstrate a free and very strong and independent will (“I want”) to own specific things and that many children impose their will by force on astonished and frequently despairing parents.
Small children need material items and objects in the form of toys in order to gain basic knowledge about fundamental natural laws, everyday life and implements and their use.
Slightly older children (from about three years), with their fresh recognition of everyday life and life’s many perspectives which they play with for all they are worth, begin to seek a wide variety of different types of material which, through play, can set dreams and fictions in perspectives which can then be interpreted in innumerable exciting ways.
Children use toys in the process of teaching themselves to be able to interpret perspectives in (everyday) life, to “translate” and in any case “to recognise” the things which happen in everyday life. Permit me, if you will, to call this learning to translate the “text” of everyday life or maybe the “text of life” itself.
However, behind any text, there is a sub-text and in every life scene there is more going on backstage. Children very quickly become conscious of the fact that things are often more complicated than they seem to be at first glance. Situations and episodes in everyday life do not always turn out and develop predictably.
From an early age, children recognise that situations, images in their mind’s eye and dreams have to be put in perspective, interpreted and re-defined.
Some situations are interpreted in the same way by everyone - other situations are interpreted differently according to the experience, social background, heritage and environment, etc. of the individual. Meanwhile, ethics and morality also creep in where the use of certain implements and small toy copies are concerned.
If we look at perspectives such as good/bad, right/wrong, good/evil, beautiful/ugly, heroic/cowardly, etc., we have to look closely at the people who use the term and the kind of actions involved.
Children must start by playing and experimenting with the often comprehensive concepts of action related to these perspectives. They then have to interpret, text and translate them before finally reaching recognition.
It is a generally accepted fact that consumers view and react differently to different toy products. Their response is actually different to the same products. For this reason it might be a good idea to base a survey of consumer segments on consumer elasticity.
In practise, however, it is extremely difficult to measure the very small individual differences and similarities which determine the differences between consumer groups, between consumers as individuals, between products and between different versions of the same product. (There are often only slight variations between one version and the next.)
And this is what this book is all about.