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玩具不再专属儿童 “童心未泯的一代”崛起

Rise of the 'kidults': why toys are no longer just for children

中国日报网 2017-04-14 13:29




玩具不再专属儿童 “童心未泯的一代”崛起

For Rob Willner, when work finishes, playtime begins. He likes nothing more when he gets home of an evening, than to kick off his shoes and upturn a crate of sleek Scandinavian Lego.

“It’s not like I’m obsessed with it, but there’s a simplicity to Lego models that’s quite nice – to clear your mind and help it focus a bit,” he says, only a touch sheepishly.

Willner is 25 years old, and combines studying for a PhD in anthropology and religion at the University of Kent with youth work in north London, where he lives with his wife, Adele, a teacher. And he is not alone in his childish after-work habits.

According to new research conducted by NPD Group, a retail analyst, sales of toys to adults have increased by almost two thirds over the past five years, and by more than 20 percent in just the last year. As a result, the ‘toys for adults’ market (which, by the way, is a careful Google search, best done at home) is now worth £300m – and said to be growing three times faster than the children’s toy market itself.

As with most things, millennials are largely to blame. More than half of the ‘kidult’ spend comes from 18 to 34-year-olds, snapping up everything from £500 Scalextric sets to drones, Nerf guns and £2,00 Star Wars Lego models.

For some it’s a chance to recapture the careless raptures of childhood, while for others it’s a chance to escape the hassle and hardships of adult life – akin to other ‘mindfulness aids’ like adult colouring books and dot-to-dot. For Willner, it’s both.

“It reminds me of the playful side of life, but also helps me to keep perspective. Lego isn’t transcendent, but it’s fun, and gives you a chance to think about what’s really important.”

At home in Enfield, he has two technicolour crates of loose childhood Lego tucked away under a bed, but also various large “sentimental” models ornamenting the house. For instance, there’s a Lego VW campervan (worth £85) he and Adele received as a wedding present last summer, reminding them of the full-size version they drove across New Zealand. Or the Star Wars’ ‘X-Wing Fighter’ his youth group recently clubbed together to get him as a thank-you present. Privately, he adds to his collection with a new model every two months or so, normally from the infrastructure-for-fun Lego City range – which isn’t as babyish as some.

玩具不再专属儿童 “童心未泯的一代”崛起

“In a way, this comes around with each generation,” says Lou Ellerton, a brand consultant with considerable experience tracking consumer trends. “A decade ago, people might remember board game cafés being all over the news. That was Generation X experiencing the same nostalgia and backlash against work; we called them ‘greenagers’ – grown-up teenagers. What we’re seeing now is Generation Y having the same feelings, and they’re less ashamed about it.”

Indeed, as millennials have sought to return to the toys of their own childhoods, clever brands have pandered to their every needs, often charging very adult prices for essentially souped-up versions of 90s toys. Could it be that Gen Y, unable to afford to move on with their lives in the traditional sense – getting a mortgage, for one – are seeking more immediate pleasures?

“Probably true,” says Ellerton. “If they put every spare pound they get into savings now, it could [still] take 10 or 15 years to get a deposit. This generation is characterised by not putting off today for tomorrow – they spend on experiences, so £500 for a toy is worth it to them.”

And it’s not just millennials. The ‘middle aged’ bracket of 34-50 may be least likely to buy their own toys – as they’re most likely to have young children themselves – but baby boomers account for a fifth of the ‘kidult’ market spend.

“I have a lot of toys around the house, but it’s more of a way of connecting with the kids,” says Andrew Birkin, a 71-year-old screenwriter with young children from his second marriage. “[The toys] went away when my older ones grew up, but now I get them out to spend time with them and fiddle about myself. I’m fortunate – my five-year-old loves World War One and rockets and planes, so that’s interesting for me as well. I even bought a drone, to take photos and show him.”

Willner’s motivations are slightly more profound. When he became a man, it was important he didn’t put away childish things.

“I don’t want to be one of these people surrounded by models or spending all my money [on toys], but it’s more like a symbol of what really matters – fun.”




















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