Grown ups and their toys get a venue

Gadget show live Toy NewsAs you can see from these posts I’m no stranger to discussions about adults who play with toys, and it’s hardly surprising that I’m all for it. In this post I thought I’d get chatting about the new ‘Toy Arena’ which sprung up at this years Gadget Show live event. Here is a perfect example of companies who are embracing the notion that those with bills to pay and jobs to go to (you know us ‘grown-ups’) may also fancy some diversion in our day and that we’re not willing to be limited to just watching some TV when we get home from work.

geekThere’s perhaps a tendency to view adults who play with toys as geeky loners who live in their parent’s attic/basement/garage but I’m not sure if this has ever been the case. I won’t pretend that I haven’t run into a few people that fit this description through the years but a great number of us adult players (does that work as a title for us?) are very different, both from this stereotype and from one another.

I suppose one thing we all have in common is a refusal to accept social rules which dictate the kinds of interests which are ‘appropriate’ for adults to enjoy. Here are three examples of people I know who are ‘adult players’ as I’m calling them: 1. Is a guy I’ve known for years who has a burgeoning collection of superhero Lego, he keeps much of this collection at his desk at work (he showed me a picture of it a while back which turned me a bit green with envy), he works in a fairly high up job, running a popular national web site, lives in London and is engaged to a very successful woman. 2. Is another guy I’ve known for a long time who has a number of petrol powered remote control cars in his garage, these things are alarmingly fast and are basically the kind of RC car that we dreamed of when we were kids, this guy is happily married with 2 kids and has a very demanding job which has him away from home for weeks at a time. 3. Is a twenty-something farm labourer who looks like a perfectly normal guy, he’s friendly and outgoing and seems happy to talk to anyone and this guy has an impressive collection of di-cast tractors. None of these guys is remotely close to the jobless, loner living with his parents that is stereotypically associated with adults who play with toys, though yes I will admit I’m hard pressed to think of an example of any women I know who do the same, but feel free to make yourself known in the comments and I’ll amend my list to include you.

RC heliThis brings me to the Gadget show live (or GSL, I’m lazy and just can’t keep writing the full name) event and it’s recognition of the need for a ‘toy arena’. Their official position is that the arena was included because of the growth of ‘techie toys’ but I can’t help but feel that if it wasn’t for an almost parallel area of market growth, these toys wouldn’t have been on show. The market for…and I have to be careful how I phrase this…toys for adults, is growing by the year and is including a far more varied demographic with each new incarnation. I couldn’t be happier to see this, and the idea that more adults are connecting with their inner child and feeding them with imagination and play can only benefit us all in the long run.

My support for this isn’t simply rooted in the obvious fact that I work in a toy shop and so benefit from increased toy sales. Since childhood is often seen as the seat of many of our psychological problems it seems intuitive to me that an occasional revisit to childhood through play which promotes positive connotations, comfort and pleasant experiences, can only help, as it allows us to feed that inner child with experiences which promote a better self-image and could help people to heal past wounds. Play therapy is being used by many psychologists and other therapists to help with these kinds of thing and it seems as though people like me have been unwittingly self-prescribing for years.

Gadget show live Toy News Holografx John CraneSome of the toys which were shown at the GSL event were fairly run of the mill such as remote control cars and helicopters. However, there seem to have been a few surprises too including a cool little dancing robot and a holographic magic show. I’m particularly excited about the magic show as it’s made by John Adams, a company which we deal with in the shop, so I may get a chance to play with one sometime later this year.

To all you adult players out there (yeh, that title doesn’t sound right, I’ll need to give this some thought) what is your particular favourite toy? Also importantly are there any women out there who collect these kind of things? (and I’m not meaning simply mums who play with her kids toys, I’m meaning people who go out of their way to purchase a toy which caters to their own interests) Another thing I’m wondering is whether buying toys and playing with them can be used as a status symbol (viz. ‘I’m an adult who has time and money to spare on toys’), any thoughts? Another blogger just reminded me that you can share posts on facebook, twitter etc. just by hitting one of those buttons below, if you feel like doing that then you’ll be making my day just that little bit happier, so I’ll thank you in advance.

Once again thanks for reading and I’ll leave you with a video of John Adams’ ‘HolograFX’, really hoping we get a chance to try this out in the shop (thanks to Alan Advancedflea for uploading it to youtube). I would also like to credit ‘Toy News’ for the images of GSL that I’ve used in this post, you can find the originals here:

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