The Toys (Hi)Story

For ages, dolls were favorite toy selection among the girls, while boy’s choice was balls or marbles. Over the time, both, the children’s choice and the toys have changed.  It is an undeniable fact that the toys have developed throughout history, and here is a brief story about that.

There are some beliefs that the yo-yo is one of the oldest toys that still exist today and that it was created 1000 years BC. It was primarily created as a weapon for hunting. Personally, I don’t see how a yo-yo can be used as an effective hunting tool, although people throughout history were convinced that the first purpose of the yo-yo was to be used as a weapon.

Of course, children were playing with toys long before the yo-yo was invented. In tribal societies, girls were making dolls (strange looking dolls) and the boys were making and playing with bows and arrows. Children were playing with the mud, twigs and stones and they were making little houses and animal figures. A reflection of the original understanding of play and toys can be seen today: in addition to so many pricy action figures and video games, many kids still prefer to play in sand and mud.

If you were a kid in ancient Greece and you wanted to play ball, you would have to do that with an inflated pig bladder. Inflated pig bladder as a toy, was "popular" among some kids even in the 20th century.

Development of the toys that resemble today's toys we tie to the medieval Ages. During that period, first dolls that look cute appeared; also kids of that period played with animal figurines, board games, hoops, kites, etc ... Cup and ball was as popular in the middle ages as the Playstation and Wii are today.

The 20th century, especially its second half, is characterized by a huge technological development that had a great impact on a toy industry. Consumer society, the cult of Christmas gifts and Santa Claus combined with modern technological achievements, whose typical products are video games and computers, has led toys to a place that earlier generations couldn’t even dream of.

Cheap plastic, metal and electricity of the 20th century, have brought us toy’s “all stars” like: Lego, skateboard, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie doll, Action Man, Roller blades, Rubik's cube, Slinky and many more.

With more access to technology and digital devices than ever before, children of the 21st century are savvy, sophisticated and tech-oriented, and their toys are too. Technology affects not only the fact that toys are more sophisticated but they are becoming increasingly more available. You can find any toy you want online at any time, order it, and in a few days it will be at the address you choose.

The appearance of today's toys is far advanced, not only in comparison to the Middle Ages, but also to the 20th century. For example, I'm a huge Super Mario fan and I collect everything: Super Mario games, t-shirts, figures, key chains, etc ... When I compare today's Super Mario figures (check out Davey Boys Toys, for example) with those made in 1990's, figures from 20th century looks like they have been made by a trained Labrador compared to these made in the past couple of years.

As far as the toy development is in question, it should be noted that, despite technological progress, mud, sand, balls and dolls throughout history have always found their way on the list of the top 10 favorite toys.