When I was young, my grandfather used to take me to the toy store on very special occasions. Which, as I learned later, was translation for “I just feel like spoiling my grandson”. Anyway, I would be staring at the immense wall of Lego boxes for what felt like ages. Lego for me meant infinite possibilities…
The thing that all kids seem to naturally have, is vivid imagination. Haven’t we all been astronauts, fire fighters, police men and pirates? And how real was that imaginary world when we were younger? It surprises me therefore that there are such differences in the way that kids use that imagination.
Next to the Lego boxes in the toy store were the Playmobil boxes. There was a strict separation, you were either gazing upon the Playmobil boxes or the Lego boxes. I could fully understand those kids that were dreaming of the biggest and latest Playmobil toys. They do look cool, don’t they?
The most interesting thing about Playmobil is that it has so much detail. It leaves little to the imagination of how things look because everything is crafted in a specific way. A pirate ship is a pirate ship, no doubt about it.
On the Lego side of the toy store things are different. These kids are not just looking at the Lego item that is displayed on the box. The pirate ship made from Lego is a less polished than the Playmobil one, yet for Lego kids this is not a problem. They are seeing more than a pirate ship.
Lego kids tend to want a certain Lego box not only because it is fun to play with the pirate ship, they also want it because they can build it into something else. They see a pirate ship, and a motor boat and perhaps even a space ship when they look at the Lego box.
What type of kid are you?
The following quote comes from a 2009 study on Lego:
Dr Nicola Pitchford, a Developmental Psychologist at the University of Nottingham says, “The toys that children gravitate towards help promote the skills they may draw on in their future careers. […] These sorts of toys also encourage the creativity that is key to the profession as the number of constructions children can build is endless.”
Are you a Playmobil or a Lego kid? Do you want solutions that look nice at first glance but are extremely rigid or are you a visionary that sees the spaceship in the building blocks of the pirate ship?