Toys & Adults

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POSTED: November 9, 2021

I read two articles recently about adults and toys, both of which I want to bookmark for later use.

The first concerns Al Kahn, a man who has made and lost several fortunes, in his long wild business career. Cabbage Patch Dolls and Pokemon count as just two of the toys he has made famous. How has he done this. The article in explains:

For more than 40 years, Kahn has been one of the world’s great toy impresarios–founding and losing empires, making and losing fortunes. You surely do not know his name, but you likely owe part of your childhood happiness to him.
He doesn’t, mind you, invent these amusements, or even really make them.

What he does is unearth obscure toy ideas, license them from their inventors, and then scale the things up into mass-produced global phe­nomena, making everyone rich in the process, most notably himself.

In this way, he’s like an old-school A&R man discovering pop musicians and signing them to the label, or like the early 20th-century showbiz producers Lee and J.J. Shubert, who bought scripts and songs and churned out Broadway smashes from their headquarters at the Shubert Theatre Building, which, as it happens, stands just down the street from Kahn’s office.

It delves into his career in great detail, and makes an interesting read if, of course, you share my idea of what constitutes an interesting read.

The second article concerns the rise of the kidult market; not a phrase I want to find myself typing too often.

According to Zoe Wood in The Guardian,

Playmobil, Lego and Barbie usually feature on children’s Christmas lists but this year they are going after adults’ hearts, too, with collectible toys with a feelgood factor.

The usual range of Playmobil firefighters, knights and pirates has been joined by the spacemen James T Kirk and Spock, as the German company targets “kidults” with a £450 model of Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise.

Forced lifestyle changes during the pandemic led to a step-up in demand from adults for games, building sets and collectible toys linked to their favourite shows and childhood interests. Without the constraints of pocket money, kidults have become a major force in the UK sector, spending close to £1bn a year on toys.

Lego has jumped straight in with a 9,000 piece set of The Titanic, more than 1.3 metres long when complete, that retails at £570.

I imagine Al Kahn watching this development with glee. What can he possibly manage to foist on kidults next year? The only thing we can know for sure: he will find something!