Toyland The High-Stakes Game of the Toy Industry

Toyland: The High-Stakes Game of the Toy Industry

Threaded through an in-depth look at the entire toy industry is the Cinderella story of Tyco and its Dino-Riders:  a company that is too small to field an action-figure toy line but succeeds anyway. Stern divides toy industry history into two eras – Before and After Television. When manufacturers began advertising toys on television — directly to children and over the heads of their parents — they not only revolutionized the industry but changed the nature of toys themselves.

Toyland recounts the stories of companies like Mattel, Hasbro and Milton Bradley, hit products like Barbie, video games, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the colorful creators, who have no choice but to embrace the industry’s roller-coaster, boom and bust environment.  

“A detailed, energetic and ultimately rather winning look at the toy industry, the book makes it clear that the spirit of Santa’s workshop survives.” -New York Times

“a rollicking – and telling – caricature of American consumerism over the past few decades …If you can’t get a job with a toy company, do read this entertaining expose of the industry.” -Barron’s

“…an enchanting behind-the-scenes look at the toy industry, where executives try to think like eight-year-olds, new products fail about 80 percent of the time, and silliness is a way of life.” -Book of the Month Club

“You’ve got to love a book that features dramatic multimillion-dollar business dealings, a warts-and-all biography of an 11 ½”-tall-glamour queen and a serious debate on whether “warrior elves” should ride telepathic dinosaurs.” – Fortune Book Club


Click here to listen to Sydney discuss the toy business with Lauren Ober, in August, 2019, on American Public Media’s podcast, Spectacular Failures:  ToysRUs Goes Bust.

“No company wants to put the word ‘choke’ on a toy wrapper.”  

-Sydney talks about toy safety, deceptive advertising, and famous flops.