Bears are nearing extinction in an industry where
80 per cent of toys contain an electronic component, their built-in
obsolescence dovetailing with the launch of the next character
spin-off. At one point in Clark's book, a toy designer recounts
standing in a toy shop "watching bemused as a child prodded, pushed and
shook an old-fashioned teddy bear, unable to comprehend that it
wouldn't actually do anything".
The days when a
family of six could amuse itself with a cardboard box are long gone.
Developing and selling toys are no longer about fun and games; they are
about psychologists at Hasbro watching two-year-olds at play from
behind one-way mirrors, marketing men at Mattel "sweating the brand" to
extract every last drop of profit (from the Barbie logo and beleaguered
parents alike) and plastic toys manufactured in China for as little as
40p and sold for anything up to £24.99.
easy to see why The Real Toy Story was scheduled for summer
publication; in the consumer frenzy at Christmas it might cause an
affray. Come December 25, British children unwrap £2 billion worth of
toys and the average festive spend in 2005 was £715 per child. Across
the Atlantic, it is worse: US youngsters account for four per cent of
the world's children, yet consume 40 per cent of the toys.