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Computer toys vs. wooden blocks

A lot of talk is devoted to how other industries are , but here's one that usually isn't mentioned in the same vein: toys. Fisher-Price, for example, has seen little or no sales growth for the last five years and is trying mightily to figure out what kids want to play with in the 21st century.


In doing so, they often seem stuck on the idea of creating kids' versions of electronic adult toys, such as MP3 players, digital cameras and even junior PCs. The problem with that thinking is that children--even toddlers--already have access to many more sophisticated forms of entertainment on their parents' computers, often for free.

Interestingly enough, some of the more innovative thinking appears to be coming from the Lego Group, which has built an enormous international franchise from plastic bricks, perhaps the most low-tech toys of all. So rather than searching for the next uber-device for kids, perhaps toymakers should clear their heads by playing with some wooden blocks and go back to the drawing board.

Blog community response:

"One of the first things you notice when you have kids is how bad the toys are. Everything is electronic, makes too much noise, and is quickly discarded when the batteries run out or when everything you could possibly do with the toy is exhausted. The great toys are the ones that allow an infinite number of possibilities. Each game experience is different, whether it's building something new with blocks, or play-acting a different story with dolls."
--Manton Reece

"What are traditional toys anymore? Is a traditional toy to children something that you put a battery into or plug into a wall? My traditional toys were something that you actually played with in your hands or built with your hands, not using a game controller or mouse."
--musings of eternal life

"In a small, adorable way, Legos give us the first lesson about how we are all intricately related and important to each other; how we all have interchangable parts that add and detract from who we are; and how we all have good and bad in ourselves -- it all depends on how we use it. What could be better than that?"
--Susan's Blog