Making my recent posts on the Six Million Dollar Man action figures and the Evel Knievel action figure got me thinking about how much better toys were when I was a kid to the ones that are being sold today. Really how many kids really want an Edward Cullen Barbie Pink Edition doll? (It’s not even a Ken) I don’t think the usual Barbie customers would be clamouring for the effeminate vampire, although their Mums probably do. Still we all know that Steve Austin and Evel Knievel could kick his sparkly arse, especially if this product description from Amazon is to be believed.
“Edward is a solid white plastic Ken type doll with sticky, spiky brown red hair and glitter spray over his head and chest.”
I find that this is the real problem with toys these days. Mattel has a monopoly on the toy business and spend a great deal of their time and money on creating toys for collectors with deep pockets rather than for kids. Mattel has bought out many of their competitors over the last two decades and as a result the quality of toys has become really degraded.
Sure some of the toys we had as kids have come back into fashion, such as Transformers, but they don’t seem to be of the same quality as the ones we had. Even worse is when American characters such as Spider-man are given the manga/anime treatment which makes them look really odd.
Another problem is that many of the really good toys never reach Australian stores. Australian retailers seem to be intent on importing the cheapest and nastiest toys while the really good ones never make it here. They must think that Australian consumers are stupid and do not have access to the internet and sites such as Ebay, Amazon and Wal-Mart.
While American toys have become horrible there are a couple of European toys that I do like and can be found if you shop around. Schleich’s animals are very good even though they are a little bit expensive. Schleich also make Smurfs which I can remember from the 80s and should make a comeback when the new movie comes out.
There are other quality toys from independent companies but these are now only for adult collectors with deep pockets, not kids. If you want Corgi diecast cars, Scalextric slot cars or Hornby train sets you can no longer get them from Toys R Us but instead have to go to specialist stores.