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Paperback The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Book

ISBN: 1451646135

ISBN13: 9781451646139

The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

The American toy business is massive, world dominating, cutthroat, exciting, and increasingly willing to sacrifice our kids in its frantic rush for profit. And yet, for all its rapaciousness, the industry is in the business of delighting and fascinating our children. Toys are one of the most emotive subjects in the world. We all remember our own toys; we care desperately about those we choose for our kids, knowing these objects help shape children's...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Amazing Toy Story

The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Consumers by Eric Clark is a well researched investigation of the toy industry. Contents: Introduction Chapter 1: If It's February, It Must be Toy Fair Chapter 2: The Inventors Chapter 3: What Hasbro Wants Chapter 4: Barbie Goes to War: Battle of the Dolls Chapter 5: The (Vicious) Business of Toys Chapter 6: War of the Aisles: The Retail Battleground Chapter 7: Grabbing Them Young Chapter 8: Santa's Sweatshop Afterword Bibliography Acknowledgements Sources Index Very well constructed, this book will be an eye-opener for the toy buying public. Each chapter focuses on one primary aspect of the toy industry. But within the chapter are some excellent anecdotes. For example, the first chapter, "If It's February, It Must be Toy Fair," takes you to the New York City International Toy Fair. This is one of two toy fairs, and it is where the buyers and sellers gather. The sellers, showing off their new toys and games, and the buyers, looking for the next Beanie Baby or Trivial Pursuit. but interspersed in the chapter are stories of the consolidation of the market, inventors who have risked everything on their toy or game, and observations from hardened toy executives. Your perspective of the toy industry is probably that they are special companies, selling things that children will play with, cuddly stuffed animals, Barbie, games that bring families together. Basically, they aren't like any other industry. After all, they sell fun! But you know what, scrape away that "happy" exterior and they are no different from any other company. Driven by the bottom line and Wall Street expectations, they are as ruthless as any other. Maybe more so, as they guard their research and development very, very closely. And what is it that they research? If you guessed the buying and play habits of children from ages 1 to 6, you are correct. As more children grow up sooner, the toy companies have to market to younger and younger children. And what are they marketing? Brand recognition, sex, violence. You may get upset with the beer companies using sex to sell beer, but that is nothing compared to the marketing of dolls. They don't call it sex, per se, but "lifestyle marketing." And how about viral marketing? The companies themselves (Mattel, Hasbro, and Disney) may not have blogs or YouTube videos, but their advertising agencies are continually searching blogs for patterns. They also spin up websites that gather key information on your children, their habits, demographics, etc. It was chilling. And then we get to the last chapter, Santa's Sweatshop. If you want to know about the manufacturing of your child's toy, an inside look at a Chinese economic zone will give you an excellent perspective of how your toy was made, with a first person account from one of the workers. It made me disgusted with the whole process. But since most, if not all (depending on where you shop), of your consumer goods are ma

Expert exploration of the toy world

This is almost a fun book. It goes into the magic behind all the toys you've enjoyed personally or given to your kids or grandchildren. And, it will intrigue anybody who's ever wrangled with a Rubik's Cube, hugged a Gund Bear or become rich speculating in Mattel shares way back when Barbie was a girl. But, after the fun part, the book hits you in the gut. There's a nasty side to the toy business and author Eric Clark lays it out clearly as he describes child laborers who make toys in Third World sweat shops, particularly in China and Mexico. We recommend this book to anyone who buys toys for children, or to those who want to know about child labor and address its abuses. With its illuminating examination of invention, manufacture and retailing in the toy industry, this is a valuable resource.


Few things look as pretty when they are stripped down to the inner workings, and the toy industry is no exception. This book takes readers on a tour of the day-to-day processes behind the manufacture and marketing of the average toy, exposing some of the more gruesome aspects of the business. Although the writing itself is a little dry and the author makes his point over and over again, the subject matter is fascinating and ultimately worth the read. The information, covering everything from sweat shops to marketing products for two-year-olds, is matter of fact on one level, chilling on another. If you have ever felt like just another cash cow, or object to the idea of your children being milked, this is a book worth checking out.

Toy Story Not Playin' Around!

-Definitely an eye-opener. It took some time to get to the point of the book, but author Eric Clark finally sums it up well in his short "Afterword" section: "[At one time]... we could look with confidence to this industry to provide nurture along with pleasure. Not anymore. Now, it's major object is to maximize sales and profits." (-At the expense of kids? -we might ask here.) Like books about inside corporate banking, trolling for big oil profits, or slashing costs in auto making, Clark reveals more than the reader could imagine there was to learn about the toy business...and it's a rather uninspiring picture. The author describes the involved inventors, CEOs, retailers, marketers, manufacturers, assembly workers, suppliers, governments [especially China], adult consumers...and, of course, the children who are played like a fine fiddle by the entire toy industry in an effort to help kids decide which toys to (have mom) buy...sometimes starting earlier than age 2! It's a little bit of a depressing read actually, given the warm and fuzzy nature of the topic: "toys." The industry, we learn, is not as innocent and honorable as we might expect/like it to be. It's something like learning about making sausage...we like the end result but are not particularly compelled to want to know about what goes into its production. It's the same with the "Real Toy Story," as we are invited into the murky depths of getting toys out to the consumers -from drawing board to Kmart counter, and some of the process does seem unreal and unfortunate. The author did a great job of building through some rather dull descriptives about the industry to get us to a riveting chapter about how youngsters (and toddlers and their parents) are often manipulated and mentally man-handled in the name of getting them to buy toys...and in-the-end, making sky-high profits for the handful of huge companies still in the business. It's an interesting book, not a magnetic read, guaranteed to have casual reader to company honcho finish with disbelief about how toys have come to be a cut-throat, heartless, cold, calculating billions-of-dollars business. Too, Clark does a good job of letting us peek into the troublesome goings-on in a sweatshop in China, where line-workers do their toy-making jobs for literally pennies a day. If you only want to know "toys" as simple playthings, modestly designed to entertain and to occupy kids (and adults!) for hours on end, then don't read this book! On the other hand, if you want to go inside the complex psyche of toy company execs, toy designers, and toy marketing strategists, then read away. The reader will surely never again look at Lego and Star Wars toys, Etch-a-Sketch, Barbi, Monopoly (and the rest) in the same way. Four stars for an informative, useful effort.

Real Toy Story

I found this book both fascinating and intriguing....... I plan to give the book as gifts. This is a must read for anyone who buys toys! I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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