Is the ideal toy for your child this Christmas really a battery operated dog that poos?
What happened to the rocking horse, the educational abacus, the classic wooden toy, the much loved train set or the ever so traditional Jack in a box? Why do the toys of today require multi-coloured plastic structures, countless functions and noises going off left, right and centre?
Supporters of the Slow Toy Movement, which launches today, say it’s time for a change thanks to some of the most significant individuals in the toy sector.
Maybe they’ll also be backing the buying of a Beano annual or two along the way.
The Slow Toy Movement, is a concept that aims to promote well made toys that are sourced ethically and leave plenty to kid’s imagination. Banished are the fast paced, 84-function plastic monstrosities that top the Dream Toys predictions for this Christmas announced this week by the Toy Retailers Association, which include the “Doggie Doo” game, Mattel’s Fijit Friends Interactive Figure and Hasbro’s Star Wars Ultimate FX Lightsaber.
(Personally, I think I’ll give them the light saber, the latest variant on a Star Wars staple).
The Slow Toy Movement is, say its backers, set to be the next big cultural movement for the toy industry. Much like what Carlo Petrini did for the food industry with his Slow Food Movement that defended good food and the enjoyment of eating back in 1986, this campaign in much the same way aims to support and promote toys sourced ethically and toys that let the child develop at their own pace.
Children should never be in a race to talk or walk first, this is not a competition, campaigners argue. Development should be left to follow its own pace. There should be a time to play and a time to study, work and develop.
“Our launch today is very much in response to the 2011 Dream Toys announcement where a plastic toy that poos made the top of the selection,” says Thierry Bourret, Managing Director of Asobi Toys and the inspiration behind this concept, whose scorn is aimed at Ideal’s “Doggie Doo” roll the dice game, centred on a pup that gobbles up all the treats and poops on the lawn. (If it happens on your turn then you better clear it up – the first player to scoop three poops wins).
The game, Ideal says, will appeal to anyone with a cheeky sense of humour aged four and up but Mr Bourret seems to be having none of it.
“This was held as, and I quote here: “amazing technological advancements from the toy industry. This doesn’t mean to say that the toys are ‘techy’; rather that technology has been used to enrich the whole experience of play.” Wow, if this is technological advancement, I will eat my hat!”
It should be noted that the Dream Toys Top 12 also includes some slower-moving toys such as the LEGO Ninjago Fire Temple which is pretty expensive but doesn’t seem to be too ‘techy’ and Vivid Imaginations’ Moshi Monsters Moshling Treehouse Playset.
Asobi was set up in 2009 by owner Thierry Bourret, a father himself who was frustrated at being unable to find quality natural toys for his own son that looked good, felt good and had no batteries but were still fun to play with, Thierry began sourcing suitable toys to share with like-minded parents.
He also wanted to demystify the belief that green toys are expensive. As a leading UK and European distributor of high quality toys that don’t cost the earth in more ways than one, Asobi stocks a fantastic range of products that are beautifully made and built to last including brands such as Baghera retro cars, Boikido, Calafant castles and more.
Now, he’s on the hunt to produce a list of the best slow toys of this season and wants some help. So can you name 12 toys, launched on the UK market this year that fit in the slow toys definition of:
- not made of plastic
- ethically sourced
- fun to play with
- without batteries
- sold in independent toy shops
- without thousands of different functions
Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 8th of November. Clearly mark in the title of the email “Slow Toys Nomination”. The list will be published on the 9th November 2011 noon.
It will be interesting to see what gets nominated. Perhaps some Christmas annuals will make it to the list (as “Doggie Doo” is more of a game than a toy, books should count, perhaps?)
But I’m afraid I’m still holding out for that light saber….
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.