Parents' Guide to

The Toys That Made Us

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Fun, quirky docuseries is a nostalgic trip for toy fans.

The Toys That Made Us Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+
age 18+

Rather inappropriate content for TV-14 Rating

This is supposed to be an 8 episode series however only 4 episodes are available at this time (Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, GI Joe). I find the information about why and how they made these toys really interesting. It’s crazy to hear how George Lucas got screwed out of a lot of money because of a bad deal, how Barbie was ruthless, how He-Man came at just the right time. I recommend watching the series to any adult. Why just the adults? Because of the content. For being TV-14 rated, there are multiple F-bombs during the He-Man episode. Lot’s of sexual comments in Barbie, He-Man, and GI Joe, there are nippled barbies shown, and Jill Barad (ex-CEO of Mattel has a sculpture of a naked woman in a chair (girl in slug chair) behind and to the right of her in her interview segments (the sculpute looks like a sex toy), and finally they position the toys to make sexual jokes. Although it’s a sculpture in the background. It’s all painted to look freshly and life like, so I consider it nudity.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This entertaining, quirky series explores the thinking behind some of America's most popular toys. It reveals how dolls like G.I. Joe were designed to give kids a chance to play in ways that weren't possible before, while other toys were specifically made to expand film, TV, and comic book franchises. Designers describe the challenges they faced when trying to create a product with mass appeal, even if it looked different from other toys on the market. The unique corporate deals and marketing schemes that led to big profits (and some epic failures) are also discussed.

The Toys That Made Us uses colorful images, wacky reenactments, and risqué humor to keep it as fun as the playthings they are showcasing. But the specific details it offers about the toys it examines are interesting in their own right, especially when addressing historically questionable design decisions (like Barbie's unrealistic body proportions) and notoriously bad business deals. Overall, the series offers a chance to learn more about the toys many of us grew up with and how they evolved to become an important part of American popular culture

TV Details

  • Premiere date: December 22, 2017
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • Topics: History
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Last updated: February 18, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate