This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Spoilt for choice?

In his inaugural column, ToyTalk owner and editor, David Smith, looks at the vast array of new toys released each year from a consumer point-of-view…

ONE OF the bits of wisdom that you pick up as you get older (and one that seems particularly unfathomable to children) is that you can have too much of a good thing. It doesn’t seem logical, but we gradually come to realise that just because you like something, more of it isn’t automatically a good idea. Economists call this the law of diminishing returns, but it’s easier to understand in terms of ice cream. We love that first bowl of ice cream and the second may be quite nice as well, but a third? Even though it’s exactly the same thing, it can suddenly make you feel queasy just looking at it. This premise holds true across a wide variety of situations and it obviously applies to toys as well. Everyone knows that giving a child too many toys will spoil them, and that word, ‘spoil’, isn’t lightly chosen. Dutiful parents and relatives are careful not to buy too many toys for their little angels (lest they become little devils), so they have to carefully sift through the options to come to a

final decision on what to buy. This is far from easy. The problem

isn’t just that there are so many toys to choose from, the problem is the dizzying array of new toys that are constantly being added. Every year the toy industry inundates us with thousands of new products. And I just don’t think it’s necessary. In any industry, it’s the new

that kids are generally in favour of the concept as well. Nor do I think the quality of toys is being diluted by quantity. Every January at London’s Toy Fair I’m amazed at the great new ideas that have materialised since the previous year’s event. (I’m amazed also at the stamina of the PR people who are able to inform me in great detail about each and every one of

Every January at London’s Toy Fair I’m amazed at the great new ideas that have materialised since the previous event. But there are just so many that even I struggle to keep up – and it’s my job.

releases that attract the most attention, from new cars to new phones to new books. In the same way, it’s the newest arrivals in the toy industry that grab headlines and create excitement.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with releasing new toys, and painstaking research has revealed

their client’s 38 brand new products.) But there are just so many that even I struggle to keep up – and it’s my job. At the same time I’m aware that for many of these new launches, all the effort that has gone in has not provided the desired amount of excitement. Because so many new toys are released each year, many

launches are somewhat muted by the hundreds of other new toys scrambling for attention. For smaller companies, this might mean real trouble. For larger companies it means that some lines won’t perform as well as expected because they didn’t grab the public’s attention quickly enough before something newer appeared to entice them away.

I believe that the end result of this is that lots of good toys are failing to get the attention they deserve, and I think that’s a genuine shame. I think that if the number of new releases each year was cut, more toys would have a chance of making an impact. It might seem a bit strange for someone in my position to be calling for fewer new toys each year but really, you can have too much of a good thing.

David Smith runs the consumer- focused toy news site ToyTalk ( and is the author of the book 100 Classic Toys.

Do you agree with David? Are there too many new toys being launched every year? Or does the industry need innovation to continue to thrive? Send your thoughts to

APRIL 2012

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92