Toys Have Shifted With Us In Boffo Ways During All This
Think, for a moment, of the children. While we big apes have had a hard time adjusting to the coronavirus crisis, to these mini-humans, the pandemic's the only world they've ever known. For them, it's perfectly normal that all grownups have these weird cloth beards or that the UPS delivery person is this bountiful god everyone has to worship somewhere between 10 and 6.
And since there's a premium on keeping these toddlers quiet during at-home video conferences, the toy industry is seeing a massive spike in sales. To keep that relevancy going, manufacturers have developed pandemic-related toys, putting the fun back into "fundamental erosion of normalcy." This trend started in a wholesome way back in mid-2020, with certain countries wanting to normalize COVID precautions even if their dumb anti-vaxxer parents wouldn't. For example, in the Czech Republic, the government worked together with its east bloc Playmobil knockoff to create fully protected essential worker action figures …
And in Spain, kids could have fun testing their dolls for the medium C with cute little coronavirus facilities ...
Of course, it didn't take long for regular toy sellers big and small to get in on the action. These days, Etsy is stuffed to the rafters with coronavirus-themed toys, from virus plushies to stylish baby face masks -- so you can hide your haggard face just like the grown-ups. Likewise, a furloughed Broadway costume designer kept her head afloat by selling plush organs so kids could hold up their toy lung when asked what part of mommy collapsed after she insisted on not wearing a mask at Trader Joe's.
Meanwhile, toy giants have found their niche inside the new market as well. Companies like Fisher-Price and Mattel have their own lines of masked dolls, while Matchbox released its Frontline Heroes Vehicles, including special ambulances, garbage trucks, and the most important vehicle in the world, the delivery van. There's even a special UNO deck that features toys as essential workers, like Virologist Barbie and DoorDash Worker Stiffed Out Of A Tip He-Man.
But the toy boom is no longer just supported by these viral toys. Fisher-Price is now branching out with new sets more focused on our bleak post-pandemic reality. Taking a page from a pandemic prank, they've launched a My Home Office playset. Now, kids can be just like mommy and daddy, doom scrolling through a fake iPhone while attending a fake Zoom meeting while cooling down the fake Starbucks cup they've been reusing with homebrewed coffee just to cling onto some sense of normalcy.
With toys like My Home Office or the upcoming 'baby's first home gym' set, it seems that pandemic-related toys are not going anywhere anytime soon, a grim reminder for parents that they might as well take a page from their three-year-old and embrace the New Normal. So better start saving for Christmas 2021, when the hottest toys will be a Hot Wheels Subaru with a stalled battery, an animatronic pandemic puppy with massive codependency issues, and Peloton's new tricycle model.
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Top Image: Mattel