James May's Toy Stories



Adults act like kids and play with toys in fun UK series.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Toys aren’t just for kids in this show, which explores the need for play by letting adults tinker with some of the most classic playthings of childhood. As it turns out, people of all ages need time to fool around, and even the simplest toys can provide plenty of amusement for grown ups.

Positive role models

May’s childlike senses of wonder and curiosity are appealing and contagious. He makes toys fun for grown ups and shows them that it’s OK to just want to play.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Every episode focuses on a single well-known type of toy, most of which are mentioned by name (such as LEGOs).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this British docuseries takes a very close look at classic toys. In each episode, host James May picks a single well-known plaything and then uses it on a grand scale -- such as a full-size house made of LEGOs or an enormous slot-car race track. There’s no swearing, sex, drinking, or anything else that takes away from the show's sense of childlike fun, but each episode does heavily promote classic toy brands.

Parents say

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What's the story?

James May has a very fun job. The genial British host of JAMES MAY’S TOY STORIES spends every episode playing with some of the world’s best-known toys. He brings a child’s sense of fun and curiosity to the show, combining it with adult-scale ambitions. The result? Building a full-size, two-story house with 3.5 million LEGOs, creating a real bridge made with an Erector set, and crafting a lovely British garden out of modeling clay. Along the way, May also explains the history of the various toys, basic physics, modern design, and other adult concepts, but he never lets any of it get in the way of playtime.

Is it any good?


May clearly has a grand time playing with his toys, and watching him at play is great fun as well. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his sense of wonder never lets up. He solicits plenty of help, and while everyone is clearly having fun, they also take their jobs seriously -- watching a hardened contractor boss his crew around because their LEGO house is behind schedule is such a crazy juxtaposition that’s impossible not to smile. This is a show that kids and adults can happily watch together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about toys. Do May's larger-than-life games look like fun? Would you like to take on similar projects? What kind of toy would you choose? What is/was your favorite toy?

  • Do you think adults need to play? How do grown ups play?

TV details

Cast:James May
Network:BBC America
TV rating:TV-PG

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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