New Toys: The Changing Play

New Toys: The Changing Play

Children have changed the way they have fun - instead of toys and games, it's computers, and the stores are suffering.

As with the once-great Sears, it was announced that Toys R Us has gone bankrupt, officially filing for Chapter 11. Now this isn't entirely a nail in the coffin, as Chapter 11 is done to be able to restructure the finances and work on finding ways to recoup the annual losses. In the Bloomberg report, one of the reasons their sales have been low is because children are moving away from actual toys and preferring things like iPads and video game consoles. And that's totally understandable, it is 2017 and technology is literally everywhere. However, this is not necessarily a good sign for the future, and it won't be long before kids don't even have access to physical toys and can get them via apps or downloads.

The slow switch from kids wanting the big toy of the year to wanting a gaming PC is a sign of the reliance we have, as a culture, developed on technology. I personally do not have a problem with video games or laptops or whatever else electronic that kids want – I play games regularly and write most of these on my laptop. But I also grew up with highly-detailed, poseable, and well crafted Star Wars action figures – and since 2013, Hasbro has focused on simple, “classic” style: limited movement, decent paint and design, but a focus on features. Of course they have access to the market researchers that can tell what the kids want to play with and what they don't, but it is sad that the mainline toys are of a lesser quality than what they were ten years ago – and yet they cost exactly the same. Perhaps that's just their way of a two-pronged approach, one line for kids, one line for adults. But at the same time, kids want to be able to completely reenact the scenes from the movie, and when the figure can barely move, that's not always the easiest thing. It also shows when kids would rather play with the Star Wars app or Battlefront to get their personal fix – which isn't really the fault of the company, just that of a changing society that focuses more on tech than on plastic.

Toys R Us is not the only toy company having financial issues. The Lego Group recently announced massive cuts to employees, laying off hundreds of workers from their factories in Denmark and China. Now this an even sadder question to ponder – why are they of all groups having issues with money? Once again, it's because of the fact that not everybody (read: not every kid with Internet access) wants to spend the time building the set step by step, they prefer to have instant satisfaction. Recently, Lego has been promoting their new app, Lego Life, where users can make a profile, watch cartoons based on Lego themes, play games and design sets, like a cross between YouTube, Facebook, and Lego Digital Designer. And a fun app isn't a problem, but children are moving away from the actual building with the bricks and instead using a program that has practically every brick right at their fingertips. Lego's adult fans can't keep the company afloat forever, and much like Star Wars toys, kids would rather use their phones than sit down and play with something that isn't connected to WiFi. Now, it should be noted that Lego hasn't filed for bankruptcy, but if their sales continue to fall and their product doesn't catch on as much with the kids, then it is entirely possible that the international company may face difficult times down the road.

Of course it's not just on the kids. Toys R Us has fallen in quality over the last few years, with many stores being unorganized, dirty, expensive, or hard to navigate (not unlike Walmart). The prices, which are usually exactly MSRP, are fine when an item first is released – but I've seen The Force Awakens X-Wings still on the shelves for the same price they were on release day in 2015, and most other big box stores had sold those all on heavily discounted prices before Rogue One came out. There is also a lack of toys based on STEM fields, the store primarily focusing on movie/TV/cartoon/comic tie-ins. Without promoting STEM as a future career, kids will not be exposed to the possibility of the different jobs and ideas within the sciences. Years ago, if you wanted to go get new toys, the best place was the mall-based chain KB Toys – always clean, organized, the employees knew what was going on and when, offered to help whenever necessary. Sadly, KB Toys went under and completely closed out by 2007, and the remaining stock was bought out by Toys R Us, along with the name. Maybe, to get some money coming in and help rebrand the image, they should bring back KB Toys as their take on an outlet store, selling discounted overstock, with a healthy amount of new product as well to keep the interests current.

We also look at the changing promotion of childhood in promotional material. Toys R Us hasn't played a commercial with the famous “I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid” jingle in years, and with the advent of products like Adblock, online ads on YouTube, Facebook, even (does that even still exist?) no longer show up if you don't want them to. Amazon has completely changed the face of shopping, where you can just go online and buy whatever you want without ever having to leave a single website. Kids' toys aren't advertised as much as they used to be – it's rare to see ads for Star Wars, superhero, or even Hot Wheels toys now, simply because they know that the target audience either isn't paying attention because they have an iPad or they already have seen reviews of said toys on YouTube. Why should a company spend millions of dollars on making ads for their product when there are people doing that for them already, and mostly for free too? Even the Lego ads have all but gone extinct, and those were some of the best ones during the dreaded commercial breaks between segments of SpongeBob Squarepants. Removing the ads remove the desire, and the kids don't know there's other things out there to play with.

Times have changed, and so haven't the kids. It is saddening to realize that within another decade, the concept of physical playthings will be lost on the children who were born into and grow up in a world run on technology, apps, games, and the Internet. Things like Lego, fidget spinners, yo-yos, Star Wars toys, and even Funko Pops, will become a thing of the past and sold in antique stores as something that future generations will be baffled by, asking “how did they play with these if they couldn't connect to the network?” The world is moving forward with advances in home electronics, and as I've said, I'm not against that at all – I still buy and collect toys, I'll admit it. But the problem is that we're raising a generation of children who don't care for being able to hold something in their hands and prefer to use their devices to play with computer-animated virtual toys that they can use until they run out of coins to use, causing them to try and get more. Whereas with a Lego set, a kid can build a city bus or a spaceship and have hours upon hours of imaginative play. We must nurture the imagination of children, not put them in front of a predetermined screen that plays the same thing to millions. Let the kids find their own stories and use toys and games to think and make up what they're playing. That's how Toys R Us can come back – by inspiring children to create.

Cover Image Credit: Toy Insider

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.


My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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I Wonder If You'd Be Proud of Me

Or if you even think of me at all.


I wonder if you'd be proud of me.

My first thought when I wake up in the morning is whether or not you still think of me. I think about if I am wearing the right outfit if I were to see you that day. I think about if I am saying the right thing for you to want to want me again.

Throughout my day, I think about whether or not you're happy. I wonder if the feeling in my heart of missing who I thought you were is making its way to you. Sometimes I think about what I did to make you hate me as much as you do.

Sometimes when things get really hard, I think about picking up the phone to call you. Time keeps passing from the last time I saw you and during that time I've painted a picture of you that would probably only disappoint me in the end. Your phone number still sits in my phone and I go to your contact, wanting to call, but knowing that at the other end is not the person I used to know.

I wonder if you watch me. I wonder if the posts I make, pictures I post, and articles I write are viewed by you and whether or not you care to even search my name. I wonder if you ask people about me or if you care to know the person I am today.

Without you, I have changed. It has been two years and though time will only continue moving on without you, I wonder what would have happened if I didn't make the choices I made to make you react in the way you have.

When the sun shines bright on the flowers blooming around campus, I think of your jokes and sarcastic wit. When the rain pours from the sky and keeps me imprisoned within the walls of a building, I think of ways I felt imprisoned by you. When clouds form shapes in the sky that I can make stories out of, I think of the way life could've been.

Sometimes I write to you. They are the letters I can never send because I have to remind myself that though we knew each other once, you do not know me anymore. The picture in my mind of who you are now is someone who'd love me with open arms, but I know that there's no truth in that. It's only my wishful thinking out to break my heart once more.

I wonder if you hear me when I try talking to you. I wonder if the words I tell God are making their way to you as you go on living the life we always talked about when times get tough. I wonder if you're talking to God about me.

As I watch the sunset, I think about the last moment I was with you. As that chapter ended, I was only wishfully thinking that walking away would save me from further pain. In the end, I don't know about how life would've been different had it not happened.

When my picture of you gets too bright and I share it with others, I am reminded of reality. The screaming, crying, pushing, shoving, and hitting touches my skin once more in the form of flashbacks that push me further down into the depths of a depression. I am reminded of the hundreds of suicidal thoughts and letters that I've written once before.

No matter what, my heart still yearns for a hug. A hug where I can bury myself into your body and feel safe. A hug where I forget every worry in my mind and focus solely on the love.

I wonder if you'd still love me if I changed myself to be the person you've always wanted me to be. I wonder if you'd forgive me for walking away, even if it was for me to change to be a better person. I wonder if you'll ever even read this.

Days like today, I want to go back in time. I sit on the benches around campus and look up at the sky, down at the cars passing by, and listen to life move on all around me as I remain stuck. I hear people talking, see them laughing, and wonder if there's any way I could one day feel as alive as they do.

The truth is that I was never enough for you. No matter how much I changed, kept notes of what you liked so I could be like that, or just kept my head down and moved silently, nothing was ever enough.

No matter what, though, I still yearn to be loved in the way that I picture you should've loved me. Closure does not exist. You were the ones who were supposed to hold me down. But now I am nothing to you...I was always nothing to you.

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