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The role of toys in popular culture

Toys hold a special place in the heart of fans from all walks of life. From second-hand and bargain-bin action figures, retro toys making a comeback (original Transformers), Funko pops or legos, to unique hand-crafted statues or busts, all those products derived from popular culture have built new communities, connected collectors and reinforced the appreciation in the original works.

Has our consumption for toys changed in recent years thanks to better marketing or distribution? Has the perception of adults collecting action toys changed? Have action figures and statues now been elevated to similar statuses as work of arts (painting or sculpture)? It goes without saying that toys are getting more and more expensive and yet, the demands for some collector’s items are growing.

  • It's an interesting idea. Perhaps just as relevant would be the question: when does a toy cease to be just a toy? For instance, 'collectables' are created to be exactly that and no doubt there are collectors who would thrown their hands up in horror at the very notion of 'playing' with their precious items, or letting a child get his or her grubby mitts on them! An equally valid question would be: have we lost sight of what a 'toy' should be? – Amyus 5 years ago
  • I'm thinking about which category this would fall under on this site. I would suggest perhaps considering covering toys for a particular media genre, like comics or movies, and then you can include a broader discussion of toy consumption. For example, my brother grew up as an avid collector of Star Wars lego models. It would be interesting to see how movie franchises (or tv series, or comic series, etc.) are influencing and influenced by toy collectors. – Eden 5 years ago
  • Amyus - as a parent of a toddler, I have definitely lost sight of what a toy should be! I look at those 'cheap' Marvel/DC movie-inspired toys and would gladly buy them for my kid, yet when I encounter the 6-inch scale premium articulation Marvel Legends figures (which is roughly more expensive), I automatically consider them as collectibles. Is it because they are more expensive? Is it because my kid would not appreciate them as much? Am I jealous that there are better toys of characters I love now? :) Eden - Completely agree with your point! If I were to narrow my search, I would focus on comics. I tried to incorporate toys based on Japanese franchises/manga/anime but got completely scared by the scale of popularity considering that there are live full-blown sculpting competitions of Gundam figures. – kpfong83 5 years ago
  • kpfong. You make some excellent points! Apologies, not being a parent, I can only draw from my own experiences as a child - though I do recall receiving a die cast metal Spitfire for my 10th birthday and I wouldn't let anyone touch it, let alone play with it! – Amyus 5 years ago
  • Amyus - No worries and thanks for sharing your opinions! – kpfong83 5 years ago
  • Cool topic! I'd love a discussion on technological toys and games or apps vs. more "traditional" ones such as dolls, stuffed animals, or action figures. Also, while statues and figurines like FunkoPop are called toys by some, I do think they have opened the door for adults to engage or reengage in fandom and toy culture. I'd love for the author to explore this, too. – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
  • No matter what, toys will continue to attract kids (and perhaps even adults). Gone are the days when toys were made of simple everyday stuff, and yet stimulated the child's brain to be creative with them. – monolina 4 years ago