If I ran the Late Late Toy Show

The Late Late Toy Show 2020 opened applications today for the children who perform and review toys. Which made me reflect on the good and bad of it, and what I'd keep and change, thinking about sustainability and toys.

It's influential

The Toy Show is a huge opportunity to inform and influence Irish people. The 2019 show was RTÉ's most-watched programme of the year! 1.7 million people in Ireland watched it, with 1.4 million of those watching live on the night.

It's run by a thoughtful, skillful team

My perception is that, with this huge influence in mind, the show is very thoughtfully prepared:

  • It is a massive undertaking and very impressively produced;
  • It is child-positive, showcasing children's cleverness, artistic talents, bravery, and kindness;
  • It actively includes diverse children living diverse lives in Ireland;
  • It includes important discussions, in a child-appropriate way, which in 2019 included bullying - and caring for our environment!

It reflects the unsustainable state of global toys

90% of toys are made from petroleum, releasing so much CO2 into our atmosphere, it'd take 1 billion trees to absorb it back down.

And 80% of toys travel 22,000km of 'toy-miles' to us from China, with more travelling equally far from other countries, adding another 20% to the carbon emissions.

The toys featured on the Toy Show are mainly the most popular and novel ones. They are mainly the toys provided by the major toy producers and retailers. So of course most of them are plastic and made far away.

But it thinks for itself and has a bigger vision

To advertise during a Toy Show commercial break will cost you handsomely - more than during the Champions League Final!

But you don't pay to have your toy reviewed by a child on the show. You send-in samples which may or may not be assigned to a child reviewer. The child can say whatever they like about their assigned toys. And only the 2-3 toys about which the child has the most entertaining story to tell will make the final 'script'.

So while the ads are of course highly-commercial, the content of the show is independently decided by the Toy Show team.

All the toys sent-in - featured or not - are donated to children's charities after the show.

In 2019, I wrote to suggest an 'eco' section

This time last year I wrote to the Late Late Toy Show team to suggest they include a positive eco segment in the show.

I don't know if they'd have done it anyway, but I certainly don't regret sharing my suggestions with them.

Whether or not influenced by my letter, the Toy Show 2019 had an 'eco' section!

I could not have been more thrilled to see child reviewer Siobhan report on her trip to buy pre-loved toys in a charity shop!

There was a recycling-themed game!

Siobhan reviews eco toys on the Late Late Toy ShowJunko and eco shadow theatres on the Late Late Toy ShowSiobhan reviews eco toys on the Late Late Toy Show 2

And Siobhan's books and toys to review included eco toys we stock...

...and other eco toys we don't stock (yet!) but totally approve of:

So what would I keep and change if I ran Toy Show 2020?

Keep:
  • I'd repeat the 'eco' section - I think having a dedicated section gives a chance to talk about why and how toys need to go eco!
  • I'd repeat the second-hand toy-buying feature, maybe this time buying (safely) online from Thriftify or Adverts.ie;
Change:
  • I'd increase the focus on experiences over things. Imagine a section on experience gifts - fun places to go and things to do around Ireland, to make special memories of time together;
  • I'd highlight big toy producers who have made positive changes towards sustainability, like:
    • LEGO introducing bio-based blocks and aiming for plastic-free by 2030
    • Mattel introducing recycled-plastic toys
    • ...because we need these big companies to make more of these changes, faster, and the best way to encourage a behaviour is to praise it :-)
  • I'd feature and applaud young people and celebrities in Ireland who've done brave, valuable things for the environment;
  • I'd feature even more books and toys that encourage and enable kids to love and act for our planet - in the 'eco' section and beyond it;
  • I'd ask young people on the show about their vision for toys in the future.

    This year I'll write again with my 'keep/change' suggestions. They might or might not be considered, and that's OK, but I'll try.

    I'd love to hear what you'd keep and change, if you ran the Toy Show! Message me or comment below!

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