From the annals of classic 1970s ads, here’s a reminder of what’s gone lost in the world of play since my childhood.
I’m not arguing for a pink-and-blue-tinged nostalgia. I remember how clearly trucks were considered a boy toy. My little brother adored his Tonka trucks while I stuck to my stuffed animals. I was no gender outlaw in the sandbox. He got a doctor kit for Christmas; I got a nurse kit. All we really cared about was the bottle of candy pills. Still, the message hit its mark.
But by 1972, marketers couldn’t just ignore the burgeoning social ferment. In the first of these ads, check out how many dads are involved with their kids – sons and daughters alike. Note the nod toward racial inclusivity. In all honesty, toy marketing is no more racist or sexist in those ads than it is today; maybe less so.
And man, were these ads prescient for 1972! Thirty-seven years later, we’re surrounded by plastic crap that breaks on contact. We’re deluged by gadgetry meant to entertain rather than engage. I love the line:
You see, we’ve learned that when a toy doesn’t need a kid, in a very short time, the kid doesn’t need the toy.
But enough seriousness. If you’re old enough to remember 1972, by now you’re recalling the classic Tonka elephant commercial and wondering where it went. It’s here in this clip, too; ain’t YouTube grand? Unlike platform shoes and Richard Nixon, the Tonka elephant hasn’t gone terminally uncool. (Well, okay, so Nixon was never cool.) Enjoy!