Toy Awesomeness Part 2: Timelessness and Quality

Brio Two-Way Battery Powered Engine red and yellow wooden railway

For this train (and other brilliant wooden railway items) follow this link

How to make a great toy part 2: Timelessness and Quality

Timelessness is hard to build into a toy, it has a lot more to do with how disconnected from popular culture the toy is and vitally how good it is at what it does. Luckily quality is something you can put into a toy. If your toy isn’t linked to a popular show, character, or (as is becoming more common nowadays) a popular app, then it’s important that the toy speaks for itself by being genuinely good at all things it’s supposed to do. For example, if it’s a toy phone it should ring, speak and perhaps even record voices for playback.

wind-up jumping frog, classic and simple, a great toy

wind-up jumping frog, classic and simple, a great toy

Children are pretty forgiving when a toy has a character they know on it; they’ll often overlook a lack of features or features that are less-than-brilliant, solely because they like the character on the toy. But do you really want your toy to be defined by a sticker or other added image, instead of the toy itself, especially when you consider that character brands often (though not always) come and go in popularity. If your toy doesn’t feature a famous character and you manage to get it working as a simple yet extremely playable manner, then you’re in with a chance of timelessness.

Put simply when you detach from branding and simply strive for a solid, robust and extremely fun product you might miss out on the highs associated with linking to a character but you’ll also avoid the lows. For example, the very fact that your toy doesn’t have a ‘Moshi Monster’ (or something else high in the public consciousness at the time) will make it immune to the fortunes of the Moshi Monster brand.

hama beads lions setPlaymobil motorised crane 5254Perfect examples of this kind of toy are: Wooden Railway systems, Hama beads, Playmobil, Wow toys and Games Workshop sets (Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000).

johnny jungle plane by wow toys   warhammer 40k 40,000, ork boyz

What particular toys do you value for their quality/timelessness? Are there any cynics out there who think that everything goes out of style eventually? Feel free to pop a comment in the box below and share your thoughts. And for more toy awesomeness click here. Cheers, John

For your enjoyment here’s some fun with ascending tracks:

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4 comments on “Toy Awesomeness Part 2: Timelessness and Quality

  1. ksbeth says:

    as you know, i’m a big wood blocks advocate, along with many classic building toys – legos that are just blocks of different sizes, dolls, toy cars, trucks, trains, balls, etc. my class loves magna-tiles too and will build with them for long periods of time – i also like old school games like candy land, life, etc. not much into the character branded items, but i know they’re popular –

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    • John says:

      My post on Monday looks at good branding but I don’t think it’s a hugely important addition if the toy is something that kids really enjoy. I’d say my kids’ toys are split 80/20 traditional/licenced (at most). Can be fun to play with a character you recognise but think less fixed toys can be better for the imagination 🙂

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      • ksbeth says:

        i know that the branded toys are hugely popular, so being in the business, or being a parent, they will be popular with kids, and they’re a necessary part of life. given the choice though, i agree with you and the ones that challenge the kids’ imagination are still my personal favorites.

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  2. […] I explained in my last ‘Toy Awesomeness’ post, just because a particular character is ‘in’ just now doesn’t mean it’ll […]

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