A daddy blog.

23 February 2005

Is Bob Shrum running Mattel?

My nephew is a seven year old septuagenarian. He takes pride in his color-coded ensembles, while I wear Punisher t-shirts. He says he's too old for cartoons, while my Amazon Wish list features four different animated series. Serieses. And a compendium of classic Peanuts cartoons. You know you've irredeemably geeked when you begin collecting the old stuff.

Which brings me to an article an today's Times about the downturn in the toy business:
Adding to the industry's problems, children are losing interest in toys earlier, their attention seized by video games, cable TV and the Internet, in a phenomenon known to the trade as "kagoy," which stands for "kids are getting older, younger." What only a few years ago nicely held an 8-year-old's attention - action figures, for example - now is considered marketable only to 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, said Neil Friedman, the president of Fisher-Price Brands, a division of Mattel. "You're not going to change it," he added.
Too often, Mr. Novak of Playmates said, new toys are simply recast versions of existing ones, or of toys that were popular a generation ago. "When you get into mature markets like we are now," he said, "people tend to take less risk. They take products that were launched 10 years ago, redress them and relaunch them. Innovation tends to disappear."
This Hoovers in two ways. 1) As a balding dork, I recognize the importance of my preteen dork experiences. Optimus Prime, Wolverine, and the +5 Vorpal Blade all played a roll in the development of my imagination as a kid.

2) Maybe kids are outgrowing animation because so much of all they're offered is refried dreck. Who would have thought that a decade after the crackerjack animated storytelling of the 90s (I'm thinking of Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs) the industry would fall back on the crud I grew up on? Scooby Doo came out of Hanna Barbera, the company that wouldn't let you paint a background unless it could be used on five different shows. And He-Man and its ilk were just extended action figure commercials. Today's kids have to sponge inspiration off these?

Maybe kids wouldn't be going all kagoy on the toy industry's rump if the toy industry weren't xeroxing ideas from the nadir of children's programming.