With the holidays just over, the sight of waste generated from all the toy packaging children leave in their wake on Christmas morning must still be fresh in every parent’s mind. Hard clamshell cases, blister packs, twisty wires, sticky tapes, snapping rubber bands and almost every kind of imaginable shackle – as a parent you wonder at the incredulity of it all. Do toys really need to come with all this junk? Couple this thought with your remembrance of the kids’ rising levels of frustration and anger from getting the toy out and you breathe a sigh of relief while silently thanking the universe that obligatory gift-giving comes only once a year (twice, if you count birthdays).
Whatever happened to the good old toy packaging of the yesteryears? How did the manufacturers’ ways of presenting toys evolve from the 1960s box with printed illustrations to today’s child-and-adult-proof, rage-inducing, razor-wielding clamshell cases?
A Toy Packaging Tale
In the ‘50s and the ‘60s, toys were enclosed in cardboard boxes featuring colored print designs. Photography was hardly ever used for this purpose, so parents and kids would depend on the art and their imagination to “see” how the toy looked like.
Ken’s buddy Allan looks pretty much like the illustration on the box cover. Not bad, right?
In the 1970s came the modern era of toy making as the toy industry made a tie-up with the television industry. Licensed toys came into being, and became a hit with children and adults alike. The 80s fostered an even tighter relationship between toy manufacturing and television, and this was when plastic molds – the ancestor of the blister pack – became popular.
Flash forward to the digital age when children would rather play with gadgets and electronics, and you get toy manufacturers scrambling for ways to get kids’ attention. No, nothing could be better than packaging that screams, “Buy me!” Toy packaging designers continue to up their ante based on manufacturers’ demands to generate excitement for the toys.
But why are these packages excruciatingly difficult to open? Let’s look at these three reasons below:
- Try Me! Because there are hordes of toys to choose from, children (and their parents) want the best. If they are to buy the best toy, then they need to get their hands on it – fiddle with knobs, press buttons, hear sounds the toy makes. Effective packaging allows for manipulation of the toy without taking it out of the box.
- No theft allowed. Store owners want their merchandise secured but this may be difficult especially with small toys that could easily be hidden and spirited away. Toys packaged in bulky and hard to open cases are spared from theft and from kids who just might open the toy right there in the store even if the parents have no intention buying it.
Ship it. Most toys are made from the east and then shipped to the west. The process of shipping and handling from factory to the store shelf can be rough. Sound packaging ensures that toys are in excellent condition once they hit the shelves