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The UK toy market is the largest in Europe. As we approach Christmas, last year’s toys find themselves shoved to the back of a cupboard or into a tip to make way for the new ones. Increasingly, the top-selling toys are electronic.
We explore a brief history of electronic toys, from the ever popular ‘Operation’ and ‘Walkie Talkie’ to creatures that seem to be always watching like The Hasbro Furby. (Inspiration for the analog Elf on the Shelf?)
The recent trend is for toys that connect to other devices via wifi and apps. Studies have shown that ‘screen time’ in early childhood needs to be restricted. We explore what this might mean for toys that claim to be physical, but need to be hooked up to iPads and television sets.
Maybe last years toys don’t need to end up in the tip or the shredder after all. We’ve learned from our Restart Parties that kids are naturally good at taking stuff apart – the first step of fixing. And there’s always the possibility of creating something entirely new from broken parts.
As 2016 draws to a close, we also say goodbye to a few devices. Samsung is struggling to recall all its dangerous Note 7s, and it looks like they might have to hit the ‘remote kill switch’ some time soon. Ugo’s cherished Pebble smartwatch has an uncertain future as the company is sold to Fitbit.
Links to things we discussed:
- NPD Group: UK Toy Industry Growth
- Youtube: What’s Inside Furby Connect?
- iFixit: Furby Repair
- “The Elf on the Shelf” and the normalization of surveillance
- CNN: new screen time rules for kids
- The Better India: Dhiren Thacker’s homemade door opener
- Ars Technica: US Galaxy Note 7s will finally be disabled
- Backchannel: the inside story behind Pebble’s demise
[Feature Image “Furby” by Flickr user Amanda is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0]