View Full Version : NYtimes: Modern Kids Skip Toys, Go Tech

10 October 2005, 03:50 AM
NY Times has article on how video games and electronic gadgets are replacing physical toys for younger and younger children.
Partial quote:

"The toy market, to be frank, is just shrinking."

Having failed to beat the electronics industry, the ailing toy business will join it in a big way this Christmas, offering everything from cellphones for 6-year-olds (LeapFrog) to video projectors for 8-year-olds ( Hasbro ( in an effort to hold on to children who are casting aside Lego and G.I. Joe to play with their parents' gadgets.

If the strategy succeeds, the toy business may find a way out of a stubborn financial decline. Retail toy sales dropped 3 percent in 2003 and again in 2004 amid brutal price wars between Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart Stores (, and industry performance is already down 5 percent this year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y.

But the push to sell consumer electronics to preteens is touching off an animated debate about whether the products qualify as toys, as manufacturers contend, and whether it is wise to break down one of the last barriers between children's play and adult technology.

For decades, toy makers have designed products that allow children to mimic adult behavior, but it was, in the end, always make-believe. No matter how many electronic bells and whistles the latest toy truck had, it was still a toy. But with the latest crop of electronics for children aged 6 to 12, there is little pretending. The adult product and the child's are often one and the same.


10 October 2005, 04:20 AM
I think that's sad. I loved my Legos. I think it's a shame that my future kids might miss out on alot of what I enjoyed during childhood due to tech stuff.

10 October 2005, 08:27 AM
Legos ruled! I built so many 6 foot long spaceships complete with scientific genetic experimentation labs for the little people... ahhh, nostalgia... I may just end up buying them at wal mart someday.

cell phones for little kids? that is disturbing on so many levels.. makes me wish we could go back in time to when toys were a lot simpler..

10 October 2005, 04:37 PM
Yeah but Maya is like an advanced Legos. If I had something like Blender or C4D today as a kid, I'd be thrilled. When I was a kid, I had legos, ninja turtles, and QBASIC =(

10 October 2005, 07:30 PM
the problem isn't the tech, have you seen lego's these days?

they suck! they aren' tthe same open ended concept they were. they have too many custom peices, and to come in a pack, and they are rediculously expensive. Fortunately i still have mine, about $600 worth. Including the huge pirate ship.. which i'm thinking of building again and bringing into work..

10 October 2005, 05:17 PM
Legos have been becoming more like Playmobil over the past 15 years - it's really sad to see it happen! I have that pirate ship model as well - it's freaking sweet!

10 October 2005, 08:01 PM
It's interesting you said something about LEGO's...think about it, it's just another step in the market. Your granpa probably thinks that lego's are a useless pile of plastic and that his tin toys owned legos

10 October 2005, 08:05 PM
my personal observation is that toy usage is up among adults though... places like Kid Robot rock!

10 October 2005, 08:16 PM
I never liked legos as a kid because of all the custom parts.

I was an Ente kid! (Brazilian legos! Waaaaay superior to the original!)

10 October 2005, 08:18 PM
It's interesting you said something about LEGO's...think about it, it's just another step in the market. Your granpa probably thinks that lego's are a useless pile of plastic and that his tin toys owned legos

are you kidding, he used to tell me about the wooden blocks he had and how much more interesting my lego's were :p

the probelm with software is, generaly, you need quite a bit of talent to make soemthing cool. with lego's its considerably easier.

10 October 2005, 08:25 PM
Regarding legos, I believe you can get boxes of just the blocks only.

As for my thoughts on the subject, maybe there is a problem with toys for kids because kids want to play with what the parents are playing with. Too many times my son will try and go after keyboards and my laptop. At my Dads place, he found his way to the office and likes to bang on the keyboard.

I have a feeling that if I played with his toys with him, he would enjoy playing with his own toys more. Generally, when I do play with his toys with him, he does play with them more, and has more fun since I'm not scolding him for trying to rip keyboard keys from my laptop... :D

The article kind of makes sense though. It just seems like a product of more parents busy lives and not having the time to play with the toys they got their children. I know, I'm guilty of it. I have a box full of toys that ends up on the floor on a daily basis, but once they are on the floor, they pretty much stay there. He starts going after the stuff I don't want him going after. If this keeps up, I wouldn't be surprised if he starts asking for his own laptop once he hits kindergarden, even if only for the simple fact that I have one and use it a lot.

10 October 2005, 08:36 PM
I looked for a page about Ente to see why they are superior to LEGOs but couldn't fine one. Do you have a link Lordiego01?

Also, has anyone read the book Microserfs? It came out several years ago and was about a company making virtual Lego software with scripting and stuff. It was a really cool idea and there are some programs kind of like it but not really.

10 October 2005, 08:49 PM
Its LEGO not LEGOs people! LEGO is a collective noun! :P And yes Space Lego rocked!

10 October 2005, 09:05 PM
I looked for a page about Ente to see why they are superior to LEGOs but couldn't fine one. Do you have a link Lordiego01?

Ha! :thumbsup: I was just stating personal opinion, which is not backed by scientifc fact and phsycological studies, much less websites.

The reason I liked Ente over Lego, is that Lego have all those custom parts. Ente was more about hinges and smaller parts... which basically lets you create your custom parts.

So for example, you bught a Lego car, and it was basically a lego car. you couldn't do that much more with it.

WIth Ente, you got a car, and then you could build just about anything else with the same few pieces.

Ente was also a winner in South America, because the pieces were more sturdy than Lego and waaaaay cheaper.

10 October 2005, 09:14 PM
I'm sure i'm not the only one who did this...but my car lego wheels always became gun turrets on my mini space ships! Oh yeah!

10 October 2005, 12:02 AM
last time i went to toys r us, i was very unhappy. i went to buy a frisbee and a soccer ball, and not only did they not have a frisbee, but the only soccer ball they had was a fake, rubber one.

in general, the toys they sell there are crap. besides some of the good ones [lego, star wars, transformers] the rest where figures that hardly moved, or play sets aimed at old kids, but with no interaction. my friend went to japan and brought back some toys, they are soooo much better then anything we have. every joint works like it should.

and the worst part of toys r us is their game section. after all these years of growth, you would think toys r us would ramp up their video game section. no. they didn't have the newest games, half the kiosks weren't working, and shit was thrown every where.

toys r us helped kill toys, and the rest of the fault goes to the companies who keep turning out the same old same old. kids are evolving, toys need evolve.

10 October 2005, 02:03 PM
I don't really see a problem with it, I was using an amstrad PC from the age of 4, I had lego and action figures too, I don't think technology, learning and fun need to be mutually exclusive, or that traditional toys necessarily have any more merit than modern toys, its just about having a balance of stimulation and activities.

10 October 2005, 06:26 PM
Toys, Toys, Toys, Oh well.

10 October 2005, 09:12 PM
I am a huge Lego freak... I love those things... It makes me sad to see LEGO becoming less 'construction toy' and more Bionicle-exclusive stuff..... :(

On the other hand, I still like toys just as much, I spent 50 bucks on new action figures today... Green Lantern and X-Men figures! Wooo! :)


10 October 2005, 04:56 AM
im not at all surprised..

if you think about it, this kinda thing happens every time something else is on the market, ie. tech over previous toys, whats the difference between now and 20 years ago?

its all a natural trend imo *

10 October 2005, 05:25 AM
I think it's "TENTE", not "Ente"... :-) I played with those too... though I liked Lego better...
Around the time when I was becoming uninterested in building blocks, a friend showed me a nice little piece of software called "3D Studio 2"... I loved it, and though about it as an "advanced lego" :-) I was 14 years old...
So, maybe having technology advance into the world of toys isnt such a bad idea...
However, it'd be nice if software companies would make "basic" versions of their 3D programs for teenagers and kids, so they could start up (and maybe make those versions not so pricy?).. Even if a piece of software can't really replace a material thing...
Nowadays, I do 3D for a living, and I keep a small collection of transformers, macross and gundam... and I think I'll like toys even when I'm old...
So, having technologic toys doesn't necessarily interfere with the "traditional" toys so to say...
My two cents

10 October 2005, 08:46 AM
Im pretty sure these "news" already happened when I was a kid. we played nintendo wa--y too much back in those days. (Still do, now that you mention it) And theres nothing wrong with me except this nerve twitch.

10 October 2005, 01:10 PM
I think that kids are more aware that the toys their parents are playing with are cooler than their toys. Digital cameras to computers to cell phones are all cool things they want to play with. I'm not suprised.

When my daughter is ready to build 3d models I have Nendo ready for her. It will be really ancient by then but it is like a kids version of 3d. A few tools and Has a paint engine buit in.

Legos are just too enspensive for too few blocks.

Mojo Rizen
10 October 2005, 08:47 PM
Ok, Iíll chime in on this one, as one who played with Lego as a kid and now a Dad of two (seven and four)

Lego is a great toy, and you can buy them not pre-assembled in kids. You can buy blocks, you can by the technical stuff. A kid can learn how things work with a pre-assembled kit, something like a car, then take it from there.

Legos aren't cheep, but we just picked some up on sale, you can also look online, and look for deals. If you like lego go crazy, if you like other toys of that style go after them.

Both my kids play on the computer here and there, but not every day. My son loves this thing called a football. What he does is go outside, and plays with me, the neighbour kids etc. They play games pretending they are any number of NFL teams.

Both my kids play with non tech driven toys and use their imagination. Iíve seen kids who have to be entertained every moment they are awake, and that tells me they havenít developed an imagination. If you donít have any imagination you will lack creativity.

For me, I like to give my kids a mix of computer time and traditional toys. I also play and read to them every day. I have to push personal projects off until later at night and cut sleep, but in the end you have only one shot raising a child, and they are worth your time far more then anything else.

I know this forum has a real mix of ages so you can take my opinion for what itís worth from your view point.

In the end, itís not what the media pushes on you that should make up your purchase decision, itís what you think is best.

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