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They took the toy soldiers off the shelves, just to replace them with lead-painted killer-toys made in China and computer games that will teach your toddler how to do really bad things.
I'd love to get toy soldiers at the supermarket. I'd probably buy a box or two a day.
HaT has done a survey of collectors ages.
I think it shows one fact that repeats all generations; we collect as kids; out-grow it while playing sports, graduating from school, chasing girls, getting married, beginning a career, having kids, then come back to the hobby when life settles more into a routine again in 30's.
Used to be we had one fixed phone at home, and we all shared it. So if I called my friends and they were all not home, I'd go to my room and get out my collection to enjoy my time.
Today's kids have music i-pods, cameras, cell phones, e-mail, computers, my space, Yahoo - many more active (not passive) ways to "hook-up" with their friends. No wasted down-time, and no extra money to spend on 1/72 ... priorities.
And today's T.V. shows and movies don't support encouraging kids to buy sets to relive the action scenes in the movies. No more (great classics) Zulu, Waterloo, Alamo, Fort Apache, Crimean War ...
Kids today now face fierce school and sports competitions at such young ages, they really don't get a chance to grow into sports, etc. And the money encourages Dad's to push their kids. "Don't waste your time playing with toy soldiers!"
So, there are fewer and fewer reasons for kids to discover the pleasures of this hobby.
Today's largest customer-group are those who re-took it up, or discovered it later, esp who enjoy quiet hobbies like painting, but can still socialize like wargaming, and have fond memories from childhood.
But like old soldiers, we'll never die; we're just going to quietly fade away, and so will the hobby.
Hope I'm wrong!
Anyway, if you read this far, here is the link for the Survey Link:
Speaking as someone who has kids at the toy soldier age and who has purchased toy soldiers for the kid...
I don't think increased alternatives alone account for the lack of children playing with toy soldiers. There are several issues that combine to decrease the likelihood of kids accumulating and playing with toy soldiers. First is that toy soldiers are no longer as available as they were for those of us growing up in the 1950s through early 1970s. It seemed like every town had at least one hobby or toy shop in those days, all stocking toy soldiers, and in addition other stores would carry some, although not necessarily the 1/72 type. Today there are far fewer outlets that carry them, and quite often you cannot find them even in toy or hobby shops.
Second problem is price. $10 for a single box is not that much, but to outfit a kid with two armies of infantry, horse and artillery requires a $60 investment. This is no longer impulse money for many people.
Third problem is time. Those of us who grew up without being in daycare would have entire afternoons to set up our soldiers, fight out battles and put (at least most of) them away before dinner. Kids in daycare today don't have that time on weekday afternoons, and quite often their evenings and weekends have other activities. It is hard to play with toy soldiers while running erands, but it is easy to play a hand held computer game while riding in the car, or while waiting for your sister to finish ballet.
Fourth is that with fewer kids playing with toy soldiers there are fewer opportunities for kids to introduce their friends to toy soldiers. When you go over to see a friend who has 200 toy soldiers set up having a battle you will want to get toy soldiers. When you go over to see a friend who has a new computer game, you will want that game.
Fifth is a cuture change. War and history were depicted on TV and the movies. They were also taught in schools, and chances were very good that you had a close relative who had fought and maybe dies or was wounded in a recent war. Todays kids do get still get some exposure to war through TV and movies. However history, when it is taught, places less emphasis on wars now, and for a far greater number there is less of a personal connection with wars.
Sixth is marketing. I'm guessing the entire toy soldier industry spends less on marketing than is spent on marketing many computer games, and it seems that most of that marketing is directed towards adult collectors. Advertizing in the Obscure History Journal is unlikely to get much exposure to kids, but a little product placement on some kid oriented TV show might.
Oh, come on. PC has something to do with the lack of interest in toy soldiers? You can't be serious. Basically, toy soldiers are boring. You can't do anything with them. They don't move, turn into anything, shoot lazers, fly around the room, or come in any color beside grey, tan, or blue. There are likely 100 times more toy soldier companies out there now than there were 40 years ago. You don't believe me, just check on the metal painted figure side. They are also about 50 times more expensive than they used to be. And, there aren't any cartoon(ish) shows to license toy soldiers to. But "PC"? Oh, please.
Remember all the advertisements in comic books in the 1970's for toy soldiers and war games? perhaps that might be a good starting point for the hobby today.