Do people ever outgrow the joy of toys?
By Martin McAllister
Contrary to popular representations, toys are not, and have never been just the domain of children. In fact, toys have consistently captured the imagination of the general public and are the companions of adults just as much as they are a mainstay in the lives of children the world over. Of course, the main reason for the enduring nature of toys is difficult to pin down; however, their variety and constantly evolving appearance and selection means that the value of simple toys and games as a means by which children and adults can amuse themselves is unlikely to fall out of date.
Toys date back thousands of years in our history. For example, many toys, including small carts, bird-shaped whistles and toy monkeys were excavated from the ruins of the Indus Valley civilisation which dated from 3000 to 1500 BC. Children in Ancient Egypt often played with dolls made out of stone or pottery, with wigs and moveable limbs; while infants in Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations occupied themselves with bows and arrows, terracotta or wax dolls and early yo-yos.
As technology has developed, today's toys are more likely to be made out of plastic or other synthetic materials. But even as the way toys are produced and what toys can do has advanced, the fact that children play with and can learn from toys has not altered. For example, many toys can aid a child's cognitive development and help them identify shapes, textures and sizes. Puzzles can also help in the mental development of growing children or young adults, teaching them the basics of problem solving and sometimes even the principles of certain scientific concepts: for example, Newton's Cradle is a desk toy that demonstrates the conversion of momentum and energy.
Toys occupy such a large place in the public's imagination that films often represent toys - otherwise inanimate objects - as living beings. Movies like Disney's Toy Story 1 and 2, and 1998's Small Soldiers (in which missile technology is used to enhance toy action figures) portrays toys as being 'alive' and taking on a power and force all of their own. The success of these films demonstrates quite clearly that toys are an obsession not just of the young, but the old alike.
Today's flourishing online trading forums means that toy enthusiasts will be able to find a range of toys and games online with which to buy and sell to a huge variety of users. In fact, many online marketplaces will provide an opportunity to find rare toys and games, as well as particular models that may no longer be manufactured. So toy fans should be sure to check out the vast world of opportunities that exists for them online: after all, toys will always be important - whether they're for you or your child.
About the Author
Martin McAllister is a freelance online journalist. He lives in Scotland.
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