I was perusing Netflix and stumbled onto their new documentary series The Toys That Made Us. Initially, I thought it was a one-shot documentary covering a batch of classic toys, but it turns out it’s an eight episode series that focuses on a particular toy brand episode to episode.
So, I took a chance and began watching episode one centering around the classic Star Wars toy line. Very quickly I was hooked. I ended up binge watching all four episodes that are currently available – along with Star Wars, there’s episodes about Barbie, He-Man and G.I. Joe. I didn’t expect to spend the first evening of 2018 to watch a documentary series about toys, but it turned out to be a real blast!
The Toys That Made Us is a fascinating, fun look at classic toy lines. It’s really well put together, offers interesting insights into the design and marketing of the products with interviews from those that helped make them happen and has some delightful and very funny stories about the history of these products. It’s a great nostalgic romp looking back at some of these old toys and learning how they managed to make such an impact on pop culture.
Chances are even if you think you know a lot about these toys, you’re going to learn some new things that will be presented in a very entertaining way. The makers of this series clearly have a love and respect to these toys and that really comes through.
I’m not going to go over every episode, but will say they are all top notch and had me riveted throughout. There are some wonderful interviews by a cadre of participants whose connection to these toys are from either their creative inception, the business side or just enthusiastic collectors and historian experts on the brand.
The one episode about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe I have to say was especially really well done and very funny! It was quite eye-opening to learn just how coincidental and random that toy line came to be created. It was also a hoot to hear the designers talk about the more ludicrous characters that got introduced. It was basically no rules or plan, let’s just come up with as many wacky ideas as possible and make toys out of them!
It’s a great series and I’m really looking forward to the next four episodes. I believe they’re going to be coming sometime early this year. These first four episodes are really worthwhile, entertaining and informative. I highly recommend this series!