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Depressing article, but this downward trend in "imagination-based" toys and games has been going on since the invention of the video game. As people become more and more dependent on electronic devices, imagination, and therefore the ability to think creatively, dies. People, especially younger people, who grew up in this electronic age, are becoming a lot more tech savvy than say, some of us old farts, but their losing out on problem-solving skills and common sense, all things that develop from having to use your imagination and be creative. I saw a toddler (maybe 2 years old), walking with her parents into the grocery store last weekend, and she was looking down into the screen of some pink-encased "toy" tablet. At first I thought, "Isn't that cute", but then I immediately thought, "Wait. How depressing. It's bad enough people don't actually talk to each other anymore (just go to any coffee shop and see how many people are sitting there texting on their phones), but now folks are starting them this young?" Maybe it's just laziness on the part of the parents, who realize they can keep the kids quiet and busy for longer periods of time, with all this electronic crap, but I find it sad you rarely even see kids playing outside anymore.
 

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1/6 Hoarder
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I'll agree with you on two facts. Kids are definitely not playing with toys as much as they used to and they are certainly not playing outside. The think the second thing has more to do with parents not trusting kids to be running around outside unsupervised as much as the old days.

As someone that grew up during the rise of living room-based video games in the late 90s and early 00s, I experienced the transition period firsthand. I played with toys for much of my youth but switched over to games completely around the age of 12.

You cannot write off video games completely. Although there are plenty of video games that are equivalent to reality TV in their effectiveness of turning brains to mush, there are a lot more that encourage creativity, communication, and imagination.

I'll keep this brief without getting too much into that. But I'll just say that while the decline of toys is sad, I think video games retain a lot of the values you mentioned and more so, assuming parents are wise enough to introduce games at the right age and pay attention to what kind of games their kids are playing.
 

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I'm not going to slam on electronics and video games because at 50 I still enjoy a good video game but I do wonder what happens when kids don't use electronics and play video games in moderation. I grew up with GI Joe and many other imagination based toys and I felt that they enhanced my childhood greatly. Besides playing with GI Joe and other toys I have fond memories of going into the woods with just a stick and suddenly becoming Daniel Boone, Tarzan or some other character on a great adventure. I was talking to my mother the other day and she mentioned that one of my nieces has an imaginary friend named Bob and that she goes on in great detail about him. My mother told me that when I was little that I had several imaginary friends and that she actually took me to see the doctor because she was worried about it. The doctor told her that the bigger the imagination, the higher the intelligence. That makes me wonder what happens when imagination isn't used. Does the intelligence get stunted as well?
 

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Say what?
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It's on the parents these days. Parenting is hard. It's supposed to be. Shifting the responsibility to a cell phone or electronic devise of any kind is negligence.

If they choose to let their kids be occupied by electronics, they'll wind up with brain-dead little robots. There are alternatives, though.

Board games
action figures (some are still out there)
backyard activities (if you have one)
ride a bike (if you can)
baseball
football
swimming
tennis

Turn the damn TV off; pull the plug on the electronics.

Parents have to teach kids to play. It's not something they're born knowing how to do. Which means they might actually have to get off their dead asses, close Facebook and Twitter, put their damn phones on mute and play with their kids.

I see it all the time. A five-year-old kid stuffed into the toddler seat of a shopping cart with his mother in the grocery store so engrossed in a damn video game the frikken ceiling could collapse and they'd never know it.

I'm personally glad my kids are grown. While they've played (and still play) their share of video games, they are also college-level athletes; one is a fine guitarist and the other a pretty damn fair shade-tree mechanic. Certainly far from perfect, but not mind-numb idiots, either.

Sadly, I can't say the same for many of the neighboring kids who are younger. Most of them have the attention span of a damn house plant and flit from TV to video game to stuffing their faces. Just look at them when they get on the bus in the morning. It's easy to tell the few who get out and do something.

And, the fact that most kids now have never made a mistake, according to their parents, is more hurtful than anything else. Let the kids screw up and take their lumps. Let them learn how to deal with a bully. Punish them if they are bullies.

This "bully" thing seems to occupy a lot of news time these days.

Both of my kids came home on the receiving end of asswhoopings a time or two because they stood down a bully. Interesting thing is, the same kids didn't bully them anymore because, undoubtedly, the intended victims got in a couple of licks too.

We've had our share of phone calls in years gone by advising "your kid beat my kid up." Once the real story was uncovered, turns out their kid picked the wrong victim to screw with.

Our admonition to them was simple: Look out for your brother; as long as you're not at school, you don't have to let anyone pick on you; if I find out you've been picking on anyone, it's going to be too wet to plow.

Kids make mistakes. Let 'em.

Parents are there to guide them. Do it.

But, don't just let them journey though childhood on electronic cruise control. That's no way to be a kid.
 

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1:6 Acquisitionist
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The many things we grew up with and valued are no longer valued or respected . . . period.

We're all going to HELL in a hand basket or whatever and we only have ourselves to blame because we let it happen.

OH, WELL . . .
 

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My kids we have always kept a constant of imagination based and electronic.

They have tablets but can go on at set times. Toys, play, board games etc are key, this is enforced by toys being bought over electronics.

Only once in Secondary school does the mobile phone become an item (emergencies, etc) to them and that is controlled too.

I honestly believe we have too many parents worldwide who do not interactive with their children as it is easier for them to sit them in from of the TV, electronic devices for the day(s) on end.
Sad but alas believe this is the case.

It boils down to Us parents to keep imagination driven, to interact with them, keep the legends alive and who knows the torch may return.

I honestly believe a Great imagination brings forth a Great person, for they foresee opportunities others would miss.


That or we drop an EMP and force the buggers off their electronics LOL
 

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Pffft, sorry folks, as much ad I love em Barbie and Joe are not the litmus test of imagination. Legos are still going strong, cartoons are being watched and kids still play, the difference is in how they interact with "their" world. Ours was different, but the same complaints were made about, TV, Rock, Metal & Rap -fill in the blank-will rot your brain. Face it, we are just moving closer to Mr. Wilson and further from Dennis. Yes, they aren't playing with Joes, but they are designing robots. Relax folks it's gonna be okay :p
 

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The window for GI Joes (and Barbies) in a kid's play life is rather small. My son went through it between ages 8-12ish, as did my daughter with her Barbies. I certainly made a point to carry on the tradition of action figures and dolls with my kids, but it is hard to put a $100 collectible figure in their hands. That's way you need those "entry level" Soldiers of the Word, PowerTeam, even GI Joes.

Even if Hasbro and Mattel stop making GI Joes and Barbies, that stuff will live on and circulate forever as long as Ebays and Craigslists are around.
 

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Barbie and GI joe had a good run. Their demise will not spell the end of creativity. My son who is 11 now,played for a while with 12 inch figures. Most were Star Wars themed which he and I bashed together from buying loose parts on line. Lately though he has entered a phase where he enjoys designing and building his own toys. Mostly Pokemon inspired action figures which he builds from felt etc. his glue gun is a prized possession . He also loves building swords out of scrap wood and such. He can spend hours in the back yard perfecting his moves, much to the chagrin of his older sisters who fear he is behaving like a nerd. He's also big on mine craft. He can spend hours building castles and villages and learning code to make things happen in this world. I never fear for his imagination. He's a very social little guy and his friends all seem to be into the same things. When they all get together and play in the back alley with squirt guns or nerf guns or ligh Sabres it's no different from when I was a kid. And I'm 53 years old so I do remember the old days. I think ultimately there are just more options now and they continue to increase. I think it's premature to declare the sky is falling because they don't want to play with the same things you did. After all once upon a time kids were happy playing with a barrel stave and a stick. I honestly think that people who lament that our children have lost their imaginations either don't have kids,or if they do, they aren't paying close enough attention to them. Just my 2 or 3 cents.
 

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Cobra Infantry Commander
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Barbie and GI joe had a good run. Their demise will not spell the end of creativity. My son who is 11 now,played for a while with 12 inch figures. Most were Star Wars themed which he and I bashed together from buying loose parts on line. Lately though he has entered a phase where he enjoys designing and building his own toys. Mostly Pokemon inspired action figures which he builds from felt etc. his glue gun is a prized possession . He also loves building swords out of scrap wood and such. He can spend hours in the back yard perfecting his moves, much to the chagrin of his older sisters who fear he is behaving like a nerd. He's also big on mine craft. He can spend hours building castles and villages and learning code to make things happen in this world. I never fear for his imagination. He's a very social little guy and his friends all seem to be into the same things. When they all get together and play in the back alley with squirt guns or nerf guns or ligh Sabres it's no different from when I was a kid. And I'm 53 years old so I do remember the old days. I think ultimately there are just more options now and they continue to increase. I think it's premature to declare the sky is falling because they don't want to play with the same things you did. After all once upon a time kids were happy playing with a barrel stave and a stick. I honestly think that people who lament that our children have lost their imaginations either don't have kids,or if they do, they aren't paying close enough attention to them. Just my 2 or 3 cents.
the life of barbie is over????? yes please! i mean she is a stick with zero appeal. and her pink wear is exaggerated to the point of insanity! but i do think 1/6 is going to come to mass market again.... imagination will fly high, and kids will be excited as ever to see some new GI Joe-esque combat group! i don't know what gear or clothes they will have, but i am sure they will happen soon. i mean PTE is still making, and released new 1/18 as did BBI, so i think barbie will go soon, and GI JOE will have to reimagine what they are, and maybe now new mass market females will happen with 21stc or better gear. infact a whole new line could and would do well. but not if a toys r us exclusive. we need to see stores like walmart get such, and especially at christmas time when sales are high. also wouldn't hurt to make a video game tie in, like the disney infinity or skylanders lines. those things sell like candy!

i am thinking.... is it maybe time for a 1/18 GTA line, and 1/6 line? imagine a mass market Carl Johnson with a uzi, pistol, and an ak. now that would be hilarious and fun! and it would only piss off every PC idiot who hasn't played GTA! or what about 1/6 Michael DE Santa? let us not forget 1/6 sports and adventure figures. i mean BBI did have a line at Target online, but next BBI needs to get them into stores. i know kids will eat them up, and parents would go nuts considering how cheap they were/would be. so yeah, barbie is done, she tries to be current, but with it's lack of a more acceptable body, and all pink wear.....mattel has killed her success. and GI JOE has bad movies to reel in from! not to mention the lack of good army builder sets, and that the 25th anniversary line was their best line.

on top of that is the fact that a line between the two movies had the chance to draw in the collectors, and bring new faces, but could not do either....price went up, and so did detail, but children break stuff, and the weapons missed out on that, plus the unusual new paint apps strayed far from 25th continuity. even hasbro has to consider a two prong approach, like they did with star wars. basic figures for kids and deluxe for collectors, but also don't become an art studio in the process. as for their 1/6 make a figure that atleast has some detail for the $15-$20 you pay. do what you did say 2000, and you will get collectors, plus new faces. parents don't want crap, even though hasbro seems to think so. they expect some quality for $20 not a giant plastic "ken" duke.

so the end isn't what i'd say, more like time to go back to the drawing board, and rethink the dolls/figures they make to be more current, and less sexist. make me a BARBIE LASD/ Barbie president, and use a better thicker female figure, kinda like triad but a little bigger...and as long as the gear/outfit is realistic, and not "female" i will bet people will applaud mattel, and start buying the better doll for their kids to inspire them. it would be nice, like how lammily is, but that will never happen until they unstick their heads from their asses and see what mothers would actually like to buy their kids. it's not like they can't expect sales if volume goes down and quality and price jump a little. infact they may just become as popular as ever.

lastly.....send this to everyone, and ask if they agree!
 

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The inevitable 'End of Life As We Know It' article/post/thread.

I will only offer for consideration my 4-year old grandson. He is adept at electronic devices and games, and watches lots of videos with various real and imaginary characters.

On the other hand, he organizes and plays with a variety of toy animals, figures, vehicles, and buldings. You could light a city with his imagination.

If action figures and dolls were all gone tomorrow, kids (and adults) would make them, themselves.

As a friend of mine likes to point out, we are clever monkeys.
 

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I have to admit I might have sabotaged my own son's childhood. We started playing computer games from when he could barely sit up by himself—he would sit in my lap and we'd play together. They were always violence-free games—mostly arcade stuff, never anything with guns or killing—but he took to them like a duck to water.

Sadly, now, having just turned 14 yesterday (in Japan—he was kidnapped by his mother and I haven't heard from him in months now) he's plastered to his devices. Again, my fault, in that I bought him his MacBook Pro and his iPad Mini, along with his iPod Touch, an electric guitar and amp, a Canon DSLR and, and . . . no GI Joes.

But he showed yawning indifference to my encouraging him to help me build plastic models and amused detachment at my burgeoning collection of incredibly expensive action figures. You can't force a kid to like Lincoln Logs or be entertained by the stuff YOU grew up with, but it's not a stretch to say that if all these Devices had been around when I was a kid, more than likely *I* would have become glued to them. I'll never know, but the thought just leaves me . . . sterile.

I sure can't imagine being in my 50s and looking back wistfully and saying "Wow, I used to love that jumpy game where you had to pick up pizzas and avoid getting crushed by the enemy pizza parlor guy."

That just doesn't have the same ring to it as "I remember the tent that I created for my GI Joe army . . ."

I think the key here is, collect them while you still can, because they're going to be worth a fortune when your kids are old.
 

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Resisting Evil
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I think we've all agreed by now that collecting action figures for investment purposes will turn out be be very disappointing......:doh
 

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Well... Isn't this pretty much the same kind of discussion that popped up when pop music came, video came, heck, even electricity? (I've seen an actual sign over a lightswitch which explained how the electrical light worked and that there were no health hazards from electrical light)

The thing is that yes, kids do play less and less with toys and its been like that since we got VCRs in our homes, or perhaps even when the first TV sets became common.

However, that same generation is currently curing cancer and travelling to Mars, so I don't really see a danger here. It's change and I think that's the reason why people get upset.
 
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