Years ago, well before Xboxes, iPods and high-tech toys hit the scene, there were simple, old-fashioned board games, action figures, Barbie dolls and record players on most kids’ wish lists.
I still remember begging my parents for a Superstar Barbie after she hit department store shelves in 1977. I wanted the doll so badly that I rode up the elevator in a Bon Marche mall department store to show my father what this glamorous Barbie, dressed in a pink gown, heels and fur shawl, looked like. Soon after, Superstar Barbie joined my collection of other dolls and toys.
Many of my wish-list items were instigated by Saturday morning television commercials, or after flipping through department store catalogs containing the latest talking, walking or crying baby dolls, toy race cars, board games or play kitchen sets.
My parents didn’t have to spend much to make me happy, either. Dolls, board games, records and a Timex watch did it for me.
These days, children are asking for e-tablets, expensive computer games, hover boards, smart watches and electronic gadgets that cost a lot of money and make us wonder what happened to the much more imaginative toys of yesteryear. What about a good old-fashioned Rubik’s Cube or a game of Operation, Simon or Connect Four?
Not long after Superstar Barbie joined my toy collection, so did spin-off toys, including the Superstar Barbie fashion head and fashion place setup. I spent hours in my room playing hair and makeup and creating dialogue between my various dolls.
Those same toys would probably bore my children. They don’t want toys; they want computers. My daughters rarely ask for dolls anymore, unless it’s one of those flying fairy dolls that can be charged up. And my son would much rather play an electronic football game on his tablet or play with a remote-controlled car than play with a Star Wars action figure.
Sometimes I wonder if children today feel the same sense of wonder and excitement with the caliber of toys that they find on Amazon or at the big-box stores.
While it may seem that children are opting for electronics more and more, a 2014 National Retail Federation survey found that girls and boys were still keeping dolls, trucks and cars and Legos high on their toy play lists.
For boys, top gifts in 2014 ranged in order from Legos, cars and trucks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, video games, Hot Wheels and XBox One and Playstation 4.
Girls’ tops picks in 2014 were Disney’s “Frozen” dolls, Barbie, other dolls, followed by LEGOS and e-tablets.
It seems that at the end of the day, children love playing with old-fashioned toys, and their electronic ones.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.