Portal:Toys

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The Toys Portal


A toy is an object used in play. Toys are usually associated with children and pets, but it is not unusual for adult humans and some non-domesticated animals to play with toys. Many items are manufactured to serve as toys, but items produced for other purposes can also be used as toys. A child may pick up a household item and 'fly' it around pretending that it is an airplane, or an animal might play with a pinecone by batting at it, biting it, chasing it, and throwing it up in the air. Some toys are produced primarily as collector's items and are not intended to be played with.

The origin of toys is prehistoric; dolls representing infants, animals, and soldiers, as well as representations of tools used by adults are readily found at archaeological sites. The origin of the word "toy" is unknown, but it is believed that it was first used in the 14th century.

Toys and play in general are an important part of the process of learning about the world and growing up. The young use toys and play to discover their identity, help their bodies grow strong, learn cause and effect, explore relationships, and practice skills they will need as adults. Adults use toys and play to form and strengthen social bonds, teach, remember and reinforce lessons from their youth, discover their identity, exercise their minds and bodies, explore relationships, practice skills, and decorate their living spaces.

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Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration. Barbie is the figurehead of a brand of Mattel dolls and accessories, including other family members and collectible dolls. Barbie has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over fifty years, and has been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits, often involving parody of the doll and her lifestyle.

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Lego bricks encourage learning through play.
Credit: Alan Chia

A construction set is a set of standardized pieces that allow for the construction of a variety of different models. The pieces avoid the lead time of manufacturing custom pieces, and of requiring special training or design time to construct complex systems.

Selected biography

Ole Kirk Christiansen (7 April 1891 – 11 March 1958) was the founder of Danish toy company the Lego Group. He was the 10th son of an impoverished family in Jutland in western Denmark. Born in Filskov, Denmark, he trained as a carpenter and started making wooden toys in 1932 to make a living after having lost his job during the depression. Soon after Ole's wife passed on and left Ole to raise his four sons. Ole eventually found inspiration enough to construct a small wooden duck toy for his children. He soon found that his sons loved the new toy and decided to put them into production, using all the left over wood from his old business. In 1942 a fire broke out at the factory forcing them to rebuild. Initially, he made miniature versions of the houses and furniture as he worked on as a carpenter, but in 1947 moved onto using plastics, which were originally small plastic bears and rattles unlike the bricks we are accustomed to today. By 1949 he had produced over 200 plastic and wooden toys.

Did you know...

Did you know?
  • ... that antique bisque dolls (pictured) are collectible, and dolls from French companies like Jumeau can be worth over US$20,000?



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