The Toys That Made Us

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Toys That Made Us TV Poster Image
Fun, quirky docuseries is a nostalgic trip for toy fans.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Toys can reflect our culture and values and other aspects of our lives. They are also created to make money. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Designers are creative, but ultimately folks work hard to make a profit. 

Violence

Toys include soldiers, cap guns, lightsabers, etc.

Sex

Some episodes contain strong sexual innuendo, while others offer occasional risqué humor. 

Language

"Hell," "f--k."

Consumerism

Toys, brands, and advertisements are constantly shown, but in context. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Toys That Made Us is a fun docuseries about toys geared toward teens and adults. Featured products range from famous dolls and action figures to movie and TV-based merchandise. All of this is offered in an informative context. Some episodes contain some strong sexual innuendo, and most contain some quirky, risqué humor for an audience that's ready for a nostalgic trip back to childhood. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byHeath V. February 26, 2018

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 abou... Continue reading

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What's the story?

THE TOYS THAT MADE US is a documentary series about the history of some of the most iconic toys in the United States. Toy company CEOs, product designers, and marketers discuss how dolls like Barbie, action figures like He-Man, and Star Wars merchandise of all kinds came about and evolved to meet marketing and consumer demand. It also looks at how some toys, despite their popularity, failed to make a profit, while others resulted in multibillion-dollar sales. Throughout it all, it shows how these toys reflect the cultural norms of the time in which they were created, while still challenging trends and transforming the industry.

Is it any good?

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  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes certain toys more memorable than others. Is it the timing? Their design? Popularity? Does The Toys That Made Us give a good explanation?

  • What were (or still are) your favorite toys? Why? 

  • The Toys That Made Us talks about the different ways toys are marketed, including linking them to TV and film entertainment. How can kids be made more aware of these strategies and see past them? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: December 22, 2017
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • Topics: History
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming

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