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December 12, 2012


It's not clear from the article if Toys R Us wants to be selling those toys in the first place, as they aren't popular to their clientele.

Secondly, despite their admission that educational toys don't affect cognitive ability, the article at least hints that the fact that these poor blacks in Harlem can't get Magnetiles at Toys R Us, exacerbates (or creates?) the "achievement gap."

P = I * V, and not just for Electrical Engineers.

You can make the same profit, P, by reducing quantity, I, but increasing margin, V.

Beyond that, toys are unquestionably status markers. It's about the accessorizing. Parents want to show-off their kids play with sustainable, healthy toys that will make them smarter, not that cheap, ocean-filling, plastic crap made from unsustainable fossil fuels.

Even as a little kid, I had the sense that Toys R Us toys kind of sucked, because all the toys there were these big flashy overpriced heaps of plastic that weren't that interesting.

I really wanted the K'Nex roller coaster, but even better would have just been an enormous supply of K'Nex so I could make my own roller coasters. My parents didn't want to shell out the $100 so I just made steep ramps followed by a jump.

With some imagination and free time, kids should be able to both have fun and be mentally stimulated by things like a Rubix cube, chess, colored pencils, origami, K'Nex, and Legos, dominoes, cards, dice. All of those things are either dirt cheap at Walmart, or are at least durable enough that several siblings can get several years of enjoyment out of them.

Frankly I doubt the SWPL toys do anything; it's already been shown that the Mozart effect is BS, and after controlling for things like parental education, even trips to the museum don't matter. The SWPL toys are just ways for toy manufacturers to profit from parents with excess money to spend.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if SWPL toys actually harm creativity and curiosity by restricting possibilities and doing the work for you, much like how SWPL/vegetarian snacks (organic cereal, soy crisps, juice drinks) are just more expensive ways to get fat than eating a cheeseburger and fries.

It is not just a class thing. A lot of involves feminism, politics etc.

Anything with company Logos, especially Disney, seems to be considered unacceptable. This applies to toys as well as clothes (at least by my grown children, for my grandchildren).

A lot of the stuff at Toys R Us is made of plastic, has Disney characters, takes batteries and makes a lot of annoying sounds. All of this is considered beyond the pale. So are Barbie dolls, which feminists despise.

Mind you Toys R Us also has stuff like bikes, Legos, games and puzzles which even SWPLS deem acceptable.

New parents often want all the baby clothes to be organic cotton and all the toys to be made of wood. Waldorf toys are very popular. Plastic dolls seem to be frowned on. Hand made Waldorf-styled dolls are favoured for toddlers. For example:

I paid about $150 for one of these recently.

But when the kids get older they are going to want what's advertised on TV. Even if their is no TV in the house their friends will probably have TV. My oldest grand child is 5 so I haven't really got to this stage yet.

This artisanal free-range slinky was annealed and coiled humanely at a wind-powered communal "smeltery" on the grounds of a charming B&B in rural Vermont.

It might well be that Toys R Us doesn't want to carry Magna-Tiles. Shelf space in any retail store is a limited commodity and management is very careful in allocating it to various products. Magna-Tiles may be expensive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there's a significant retail markup on them. Toys R Us management also might have figured that people who would go into their stores to buy Magna-Tiles or other expensive "designer" toys aren't likely to buy other things while in the stores.

I did get a laugh out of the ironic tone of the Times article. It subtly but clearly poked fun at the sort of status-anxious parents who buy expensive "meaningful" toys.

i thought you came from a prole family?

The strategy is to trick people into thinking that the games are educational. If the toys are only bought by rich parents then that means the kids that play with them have above average IQs and that makes people think the games caused it.

Holy shit, HS. You did a post on class and didn't use the "P" word. Good job buddy!!! Thumbs Up!!!

Gifted children tend to play with non-toy items or use toys for off label purposes. I played with rocks and sticks as a kid. My son had complex games using clothes hangers.

The reason why the rich shop at high-end toy stores has nothing to do with class snobbery. It's because the toys at the chain stores, and in the toy aisle of Target and Wal-Mart, are mostly electronic.

If you want to find a good selection of old-fashioned wooden or metal toys that do not have blinking lights, you have to go to one of those high-end toy stores.

I buy old-fashioned toys for my kids, but it's not because I think those toys provide "intellectual stimulation" and will increase the odds that my kids will get into Harvard. The idea that a toy can increase a child's IQ strikes me as ridiculous.

On the contrary, the reason I buy old-fashioned toys is because I believe that electronic toys rot kids' brains. It is not healthy to spend one's day hypnotized by blinking lights and the ear-splitting noises emitted by those garish plastic monstrosities. I don't think that educational toys ENHANCE a child's mind and increase the child's IQ, but I do believe that electronic toys DEACTIVATE a child's mind and turn them into slack-jawed zombies, at least temporarily.

My guess is that Toys R' Us does not stock old-fashioned wooden and metal toys because folks in the hood have different priorities.

@ HS

Isn't FAO Schwarz in NYC the ultimate toy store for kids of SWPL parents?


This establishment is just a stone throws away from the Apple Store, both located at the southeast corner of Central Park on 5th Ave, where the most expensive real estate looms over a swarm of rich SWPL shoppers and wealthy foreigners coming to splurge on expensive/luxury items.

Now that you mentioned Toys R Us, it is a low end generic store just like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and the rest, which means it's Prole trash and NAM friendly.

A quick stroll through Toys R Us early in my kid career instantly revealed it was not for me. I have SWPLy tastes but am not usually put off by prole-heavy discount stores, as long as they have stuff I want. Toys R Us didn't. It was ill-lit, dirty, and full of trashy toys, the kind of place that sticks to you after you leave.

Magna tiles?
What's wrong with good old Lego?

The proles dont have access to Amazon?

And if you want to see a prince premium wait until you see what they get for Lego sets.

Half: its
Blue: there

Go look up "Fathead 2012 Commercial" and tell me that ad is not a deliberate attempt to further separate proles from their money on things that not only have no real use, that probably ruin the environment too.

I'm outraged. Simply outraged. O_o

FAO Schwartz was pretty neat to visit as a kid, but also horribly overpriced. I remember some early NES games going for 80-120 dollars back in the mid/late 80's.

"I know about this from personal experience, because I was asked to buy my nephew “Magna-Tiles” but I discovered they weren’t sold at Toys R Us."

You need to up your game. Because top out of sight only buy their nephews bespoke toys.

I couldn't resist. :P"

"FAO Schwartz was pretty neat to visit as a kid, but also horribly overpriced. I remember some early NES games going for 80-120 dollars back in the mid/late 80's".

They don't sell many exclusive toys, but markup a lot of what other stores sell. The pricing comes from the shopping experience. It's an upscale amusement playground packed with toys. Kids also get treated like royalty when they're there. Unlike Toys R Us where you find overweight NAMs stocking shelves, and speaking to you with an attitude in Ebonics.

I have a bunch of kids. Between them, and nephews and birthday parties for untold more, I'm a toy-buying machine. One word: Amazon.

"I remember some early NES games going for 80-120 dollars back in the mid/late 80's"

Ah, the glory days of video games stored on silicon ROM media. Game prices then were tied to the price of memory chips, and thus reached at times staggering levels.

The Neo Geo system was the peak of ROM memory extravagance: a full arcade game stuffed into a $600+ console with $250 each games. It was a system spoken of hushed terms, and the kid that had one signaled just how wealthy their parents were.

Cartridges are certainly more interesting as tangible objects, when contrasted with optical media (or even worse, downloads).

An bad marketing strategy? Are you about to become an hero?

Sorry, it's late.

I had a ginormous collection of 100 or so Transformers. I have no idea if this is prole, nerdy, or something else entirely.

Barnes and Noble is prole? Middle class, I'll buy--SWPLs go to independent bookstores--but proles don't _read_.

Toys R Us actually owns FAO Schwarz these days after the company went bankrupt twice.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FAO_Schwarz

Selling expensive toys to SWPLs is not a long term sustainable plan for most companies. There are not many of them, you are competing against the independent wood toy makers, and in reality, the same companies that make the plastic toys at Toys R Us own the high end toys.

"Barnes and Noble is prole? Middle class, I'll buy--SWPLs go to independent bookstores--but proles don't _read_".

Proles may not have a personal collection of books, but they will go to Barnes & Noble to peruse all kinds of stuff like NAMs do. Anyone who is a prole or prolish is this: No college degree or a graduate from a low tier school. HS also would brand someone a prole if they didn't finish college by the age of 25.

Being middle class doesn't mean you're out of the prole zone. If Joe with his plumbing business is not middle class, then what is?

"Toys R Us actually owns FAO Schwarz these days after the company went bankrupt twice...Selling expensive toys to SWPLs is not a long term sustainable plan for most companies. There are not many of them..."

FAO Schwarz probably made the mistake by expanding with too many stores. The store in NYC has been here for more than 20 years and always had a clientele with deep pockets. Expensive and luxury items will always have a small niche.

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