Toy Time! From Hula Hoops to He-Man to Hungry Hungry Hippos: A Look Back at the Most-Beloved Toys of Decades Past

Three Rivers: Crown. Oct. 2013. 256p. illus. ISBN 9780385349123. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780385349130. SOC SCI
Who doesn't love toys? Byrne (content director,, an industry insider known as "the Toy Guy," profiles over 100 toys here, categorized by type, such as dolls, outdoor toys, those traditionally for boys, those needing batteries, and classics. Covering a span of several decades beginning in the 1950s, Byrne gives each toy at least two illustrated pages, explaining "Why We Loved It" (and in some cases also "Why We Hated It") and "Where Is It Now?" His discussion places each toy in the context of its time, showing why it was popular. The book is studded with fun facts (e.g., a 2008 study at Yale found that the scent of Crayola crayons is one of the most recognizable to Americans), and the information on the current production and variations of these toys is useful. For instance, the game "Simon" is now available as an app and as an online multiplayer challenger. Other toys turn out to have been one-hit wonders.
VERDICT Not a comprehensive handbook or collectors' price guide, this is, says Byrne, "an exploration—and a celebration—of the almost magical effect toys have had on us individually and as a culture." Guaranteed to bring a smile to most faces, especially baby boomers' and Gen Xers'; for all toy lovers and nostalgia buffs.
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