Posted by – December 10, 2008

In 2014, the hottest toys for babies are Play’n Advantage brand. Backed by studies and reports, the odd but undeniably engaging products are sold out two weeks before Christmas… and then never go into production again. A year after that, the sought-after toys themselves break and disintegrate, dissolving in a similar fashion to the corporate entity that produced them.

It would all chalked up to eccentric inventors, but the Play’n babies are testing off the charts. Twenty years later, their emotional, intellectual and creative capacities (depending on which toy they played with the most) make them valued but somewhat ostracised members of society.

They form a weird subculture that’s parts toy nostalgia, hyperdevelopment, and mystery: what was behind the Play’n company? What were they given Advantages for?

14 Comments on Play’n

  1. Pascal says:

    I don’t want to wait ’til 2014 to get one. I want one now!?

  2. Jim says:

    Until then, you’ll just have to be happy with Baby Einstein. Disney’s not dissolving anytime soon.

  3. Benny says:

    I love it. I’ve modified baby dolls to… wait what are their tails made of? I don’t recognize that part. This assemblage reminds me of certain African art:

  4. Jim says:

    Ha! The pic’s just grabbed from google images (“weird toys”), not necessarily thinking the toys look like that.

  5. Benny says:

    Well, I like the image, it struck a chord with me, so nice find.

  6. Jim says:

    It would be cool if some of the footage that made up the movie was shot by a 2035 personal recorder — a floating POV (maybe the lipstick cam on a shoulder?) that people use to remember people’s names, construct libel suits, and generally record their lives.

    Heard something discussed on the Nature podcast today, drugs that were “cognitive enhancers”.

    And oh yeah: the crux of why we’re following around the Advantaged in their 20-30s could be that they’re coming to terms with the fact that if they have kids, they won’t be able to give them the toys they had… and I mean, do you even want to have a normie kid?

  7. Jim says:

    Another idea for a scene: a news report explaining how difficult child-proofing your home has gotten since babies can build ramps to get over gates.

  8. Tate says:

    Sounds a bit like the Thallidomide babies from the ’60s, and all the things that 3-4 month drug / event caused.

    Obviously, Play’n isn’t so traumatic, but the idea of a bond created between completely disparate people by a drug is interesting–they’d all be exactly the same age, with similar issues:

    “Thalidomiders are now in their late fourties and they are experiencing physical deterioration due to stress placed on their different body structures, further limiting their abilities, often resulting in new disabilities (see degeneration), and therefore compounding the tragedy. The needs and problems of this unique population are many and overwhelming.”

  9. Jim says:

    Yikes! Grim, sad stuff. But a great lead for research.

  10. Jim says:

    A possible structure model for this could be the Up series:
    …except our documentary project would follow a handful of people who had the Advantage in 2020, then again in 2030, then again in 2040. I could see this working with either episodic division or the layered structure Craig’s proposed.

  11. Dave says:

    I see this Play’n Advantage toy brand as a sort of conceptual inversion of the Aqua Dots toys, which were recalled by Toronto-based distributor Spin Master just over a year ago for containing an adhesive solvent called 1,4 butylene glycol which simulated gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB).

    Part of me has always felt that adults who I meet who never owned or played with Micronauts toys as kids missed out on some emotional, intellectual or creative benefits, not to mention ostracism.

  12. Jim says:

    Dug in for a couple hours, sources followed by ideas:
    -maybe the Advantage toys were recalled, not discontinued?
    -a lot of the scientific backing for Baby Einstein videos is based on “the mozart effect” studies in the ’90s — more recent studies say that the vids slow language development
    -ironically: einstein was a late bloomer and didn’t speak until three, so maybe they are making Baby Einsteins
    -in an article in a toy trade magazine in 1927, dolls were termed an “Antidote for Race Suicide,” in that they would encourage white girls to reproduce.
    -Montessori: learn better if learning was more like play
    -Erik Erikson’s books Childhood and Society and Toys and Reason
    -empathy: teddy r.’s compassionate choice
    -the prototype of the toy bear Richard Steiff created in 1902 and codenamed Steiff Bär 55 PB (where 55 = the bear’s height in centimetres; P = Plüsch, plush; and B = beweglich, moveable [limbs]). In 1903, Steiff also planned and erected in Giegen a factory building of concrete and steel called the Jungfrauenaquarium (Virgins’ Aquarium), which allowed all the workers inside to enjoy ample natural light, a first for its time. He equipped the building with a ramp so that his aunt could reach the upper levels of the factory in her wheelchair. (also seems compassionate)
    -Babyland General Hospital is the soi-disant birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids located in Cleveland, Georgia.
    -Xavier’s mom is Eula (a sciencefictional name if there ever was one)

  13. Craig says:

    NO NEWS REPORTS. i refuse to have anything to do with this if there are cheese-ass news reports from the future.

    the pov life-cams on the other hand, could be interesting…

  14. Jim says:

    I’m pretty anti-news reports, too. Too easy, and if they’re not pitch-perfect they’re baaaad.

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