Future Shock for Barbie and GI Joe


By Pallavi Gogoi

BEING AN ACTION FIGURE. At the same time, technology has opened the door to a mind-numbing diversity in game choices. "Children are an extremely well-informed demographic, and companies that deal with them have to accommodate that," says Dennis Perry, founding partner at The Youth Trust, a marketing services company that monitors youth behavior.


If they bother with them at all, kids stop playing with Barbies and GI Joes at younger ages. In a study, the Youth Trust's Perry found that parents still buy Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars for children under 5, but 46% of these kids like to play outdoors, while 17% are allowed to watch or play some video games. However, the choice of games shifts pretty dramatically as soon as the kids turn 6. In youngsters aged 6 to 8, 40% favored playing outdoors, and 30% preferred video games. Playing with toys dropped from 25% for kids under 5 to zero interest after the age of 9.

Take teenagers Johan Herrera and Derrick Burgos, who were also shopping for games in Times Square. Now 14, they have been playing video games since they were 2, and neither has ever played with action figures. Herrera says he's hooked on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Burgos likes Need for Speed Underground. "You can be whatever you want in these games. I'm not a criminal, but I can be one in the Grand Theft Auto game, and I love it," says the dimple-cheeked Herrera.

As Jason White, an associate editor at toy industry trade magazine Playthings in New York City, says, "Why play with an action figure when you can be the action figure?" White note

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