FROM 1900 TO 2000, CHILDREN’S PLAYTHINGS :
TOYS AND DOLLS
The Doll and Toy Museum of Josselin opened its new 2016 exhibition May 28th. Here the dolls, toys and games from the renowned Rohan family collection illustrate the diversity of the evolution of toys in the twentieth century. Influenced by the cinema, printed comic strips, the beginnings of the television and more recently, with the rapid growth of digital technology, a galaxy of a new set of heroes has become apparent in the fictional world and in children’s toys and games. From the traditional wooden toys to the creation of the plastic brick constructions and assemblages, from the bisque headed dolls, celluloid babies to the vinyl fashion dolls, modern materials have permitted the development of a new range of toys, sometimes even very sophisticated, that have captivated the younger generations of the last century.
It is at the beginning of the twentieth century that toys and games specially designed for babies and very young children appear. The use of rubber, latex and then plastics will enable the manufacture of such toys, as the famous French giraffe, Sophie (1961) still popular today. Small dolls made from the new soft washable materials have become familiar playthings in the first years of a child’s life.
It is also around 1905 that the first plush teddy bear makes its appearance on both sides of the Atlantic, simultaneously in America and Germany. It will become a perennial as a child’s favorite plaything. Since then a great many other species from the animal world, either wild or domestic, have been developed by the makers of plush toys of all countries. Sometimes sporting a more reassuring aspect.
From the 1930s onward many new board games will be invented, to list but a few, the well known Monopoly, Scrabble (both from the United States), Cluedo (Great Britain) Diamino, (France) Memory (Switzerland) Mille Bornes (a French board game about the rules of the road created in1956). Often also being adapted for younger players and early learning games. Later in the 1980s appears among others, Trivial Pursuit (Canada) Uno and a new type of game for players - Dungeons and Dragons - a role-playing game. All have their fans and have left fond memories of fun times spent with friends or the family.
A new building game construction, Meccano, is invented in England in 1901 by Frank Hornby, with its recognizable small oblong red and green painted tinplate strips. In France Edifice is patented in 1920 composed of a multitude of wooden slats. These, as well as others like the German Trix precede the creation of numerous assembly plastic toys still very much in favor in this now twenty first century as the red and green plastic bricks of the Danish Lego and the German Playmobil universes from the late 1960s onwards.
Toys inspired by world events will see the day throughout the 1900s. As an example a large showcase here is entirely dedicated to the dolls and toys of the First World War as well as those from World War 2.
As in the centuries past, throughout the twentieth century, toys are a faithful image of our modern society. You can follow the evolution of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, coffee maker, including cookers and the later day microwave oven. All exact replicas of daily life in miniature for children’s play. All types of transports are also mirrored, from the first train sets to the French TGV, the latest supersonic Concord airplane. Motorcars made in die cast metal then in plastic are manufactured in large series and in different scales. The Dinky Toy (from 1936) and the tiny Matchbox cars (from 1948) become immensely popular and now are very collectible. From the 1980s onwards the toy motorcar becomes more mobile with battery operated control transmission followed by a more sophisticated radio control, both supplanting the previous mechanical windup system.
With the event and invention of the printed comic books from the 1920s onwards, and simultaneously with the development of animated films due mainly to the hugely successful American Walt Disney (1901-1966) a large number of new heroes appear on the scene and become toys, and an integral part of the children’s world of play. Followed by the creation and spread of the television set in many households, which will be an incentive to develop special programmes for children from the late 1960s onwards like the French ‘Manège Enchanté’, ‘Bonne Nuit les Petits’, ‘l’Ile aux Enfants’ and later the Japanese ‘Goldorak’ and ‘Ulysses 31’. All of which will stimulate the production of a new line of toys, games and figurines. The increasingly popular characters from the film industry as ‘Zorro’, ‘Batman’, the whole cast from ‘Star Wars’, ‘E.T’. the ‘Ninja Turtles’ and more recently the saga of ‘Harry Potter’ will also inspire the toy industrialists.
From the 1980s, the arrival of the computer, and a gradual generalized use in daily life, will generate a whole new type of toy, both educational and as a plaything starting with hand held interactive video game console like the famous Japanese Nintendo console ‘Game Boy’ available in 1989.
From the end of the twentieth century, the increasing tendency of the use of electronic equipment and numerical techniques have played a large part in the innovation in the activities of play. Today, the immense effect of this influence in the domain of toys and games is very visible. From the beginning of the 1990s less and less time is occupied by the family playing games together.
Boys as well as girls and young adults spend more and more hours alone in front of their games console and their microcomputers. However what can be more fun than a game of Monopoly or Cluedo … with a group of friends? The popular Barbie doll has not completed supplanted the traditional baby doll or the cuddly teddy bear.
Young and old will be able to rediscover in this new exhibition, illustrating and sheding light on the heritage and the history of the twentieth century toy, their own favorite games, toys and dolls.