Why do we collect toys? Mattel designers and collaborators provide some answers

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What is it about toys that puts a twinkle in our eye and a smile on our face? Mattel asked one of its Hot Wheels designers, along with three collaborators, for insight into that question. Their three-minute perspective about “Why We Collect” is the first chapter in a new video series called Creator Stories.

 

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“The real reason people collect toys is, even as adults, they give us something to remember about the past,” says Kayoko Takahashi, owner of Spiral Toys in Japan. “I think collecting toys nourishes your heart.”

Hot Wheels staff sculptor Manson Cheung says toys make us feel good not only because of the nostalgic aspect but also because they offer us, in miniature form, the opportunity to own something we can’t have in real life.

“Everybody’s first car is most likely Hot Wheels,” Cheung says. “People come up to me at conventions and say, ‘I can’t afford the real sports car, but I have all the versions of this tiny car.’”

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Rebecca Shipman, lead designer for the Monster High doll franchise, says it’s about holding onto to the joy of childhood. “When you see these toys, they bring back happy memories … It’s like the eternal kid that lives inside you wants to look at cool things and cool characters that speak to you.”

Japanese artist and sculptor Madsaki agrees. He says many people hang onto their toys so they can reach back and experience that youthful wonder all over again.

“If you have toys with you up until this time, there’s a sense that you can be a child all the time—your inner child,” he says. “That’s what a good toy does.”

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