The State of the Toy World
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you might not have seen that Toys “R” Us is going out of business (at least in the United States). One of the same players behind the downfall of Kay-Bee Toys, Bain Capital (yes, the one founded by Mitt Romney) has plunged their second leading toy store into insolvency. There is some talk about Amazon purchasing some of the stores, as well as rumors of KB Toys coming back from the dead. But I can’t imagine either of those options coming to fruition.
Growing up in the 1980’s, specialized big-box type toy stores will always have a fond place in my heart. But online giants like Amazon (and even Wal-Mart and Target) have robbed that immersive experience from this latest generation of kids.
I feel this is indicative of the entire toy industry as a whole. No one wants to take chances. Toy companies over-saturate the aisles were certain big name licenses. They’ve (I’m looking at you Hasbro) even gone towards crowd-funding projects. I understand why the artist trying to release his/her small run piece would decide to use this route, but it just seems lazy from a company like Hasbro (do some research, guys).
Previous to the Great Recession, online designer toy boutiques were thriving. Small, upstart toy companies were producing amazing pieces from artists most folks had never heard of. Heck, this site even used to have a plethora of advertisers. The recession ended all of that for a lot of people.
Maybe it’s just that every 10 or so years, something has to shake up the toy industry. It’s cyclical. Gone are the days of the 80’s, where toy companies generated a large portion of television entertainment for children...to use to sell them their toys the cartoons were based on. Welcome to the land of licensed toys from the latest box office hit/flop. And goodbye creativity.