Taschen celebrates 100 years of toy adverts in pictures from across the 20th century


In a week that sees Hasbro kick off its latest appeal to Gen Z and Generation Alpha audiences with its hunt for a Chief TikTok officer to curate, create, and oversee all of its activity across the social media platform this spring/summer, it’s fair to say that toy advertising has certainly come a long way.

As if aware of a disturbance in the force and the swinging pendulum of the toy industry’s relationship with consumer marketing, the German book publisher Taschen has announced the launch of a title designed to jog the banks and enable toys fans a jaunt down memory lane.

Called Toys. 100 Years of All American Toy Ads, the new titles is a compendium of not only some of the most recognisable, but the long forgotten toy advertisements from across the 20th century, with everything from science kits, frilly dolls, and baseball mits, to decoder rings, air rifles, and video games.

There’ll be no mention of algorithms within this compilation of art work designed to sell toys to children across the generations, from train sets to Arnold Schwarzenengger action heroes.

“Whenever you ask someone, ‘What was your favourite toy?’, there’s an immediate response – everybody had one,” says co-author Jim Heimann. “I wanted to show how toys reflected what was happening at the time,” says Heimann. “It definitely does tell a story.”

A snapshot of cultural and societal beliefs from across the past 100 years, this chronologically formed publication will take fans through the eras, spanning the dated modes of marketing as the shift from boys being advertised guns and adventures, while girls are presented with dolls and kitchenware, begins to take shape through imagery.

Toys: 100 Years of All-American Toy Ads by Jim Heimann and Steven Heller is published by Taschen (£30) on 9 April



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