The History and Purpose of Toys
Parents have been trying to find ways to occupy their children. Therefore it is no surprise that toys have been around since the beginning of time. The natural playfulness and curiosity of children make toys a natural progression. For instance a child’s imagination can figure out, how to make a game out of, and play with anything.
A child can occupy themselves making roads in the dirt, making castles out of sand, or just digging a little hole, which can create tunnels and other mysterious places. Sea shells, rocks, pine cones or what ever else is available can become a handy toy. In spite of a child’s unique creativeness parents throughout time have tried to reward and entertain their children with toys.
Ancient Egyptians created balls from leather and dried papyrus reeds. They also created marbles out of black and white stones. There were many Egyptian dolls as well. Some were made from leather and papyrus; many were carved out of wood, bone, or ivory. Some even had jointed limbs and moveable jaws. The less affluent would fashion dolls and figurines out of clay.
They even created spinning tops, and had many different physical games, with balls and sticks and wrestling. They also enjoyed board games such as Mehen and Senet. Ancient Roman toys were similar. They had balls and games played with hoops and sticks. Wooden swords and shields were also popular for simulated battle games.
Like the Egyptians the Romans enjoyed board games and marbles. They also created dolls and figurines out of wood, wax, and terra cotta. Similarly the inhabitants of early Greece enjoyed wooden horses on wheels pulled by strings, terra cotta dolls, clay animals, baby rattles, and primitive yo-yos.
I found a New York Times article from 1902 that was about the big Christmas toys of that year. They were new automobile toys, some were metal wind up editions, and some were more elaborate expensive toy automobiles that adults were purchasing. The other big toy hits of that year were toy submarine boats and flying machines.
Baby dolls have been popular throughout the centuries. But in 1960 the first Barbie fashion doll was introduced. Other great toys from the 1960’s were slinkies, colour forms, the view master, etch-a-sketch, lite brite, spirograph, the Fort Apache play set, Marvel the Mustang, and too many more to mention.
Many of these toys are still popular today. Plus we have some new toys. Besides the great strides made in electronics and video games, we have Bakugan Battle Brawlers. Barbie is still around but she is joined by the Bratz, Moxie Girlz, and Liv Dolls. There are tons of new board games and action figures. Plus the classic games and toys of the past are still around and being improved upon.
In spite of changes in time and technology the basic premise of play has remained unchanged. Toys have always been used to stimulate the imagination and keep children occupied and entertained. No matter how much time passes parents will never grow tired of seeing a child’s face light up when presented with a new toy.