Our toys have gotten shitty

Our niece turned one year old a few weeks ago. We decided to send a few toys and one of them was reminiscent of our childhood. Do you remember the Fisher Price Little People Farm? It had a barn door, and when you opened it, it mooed like a cow. There were other farm animals, a fence, and a grain tower. There was a little window at the top of the barn that opened and you could put the little people in there so they could look at the farm where the bales of hay were stored. Ahh….memories.

So a few weeks ago we are in California at Charlie’s house, and the Little People Farm comes out, and we are flabbergasted. The thing is a cheap piece of crap. The barn doors do not open. There is no mooing noise. The little people are not little. The animals are funky looking and fat and their legs do not bend or move. The fence is chintzy. We spent over $40 on hoping to create our childhood memories for Charlie and find that she got the raw end of the deal. It was horrid.

I want to send a note to Fisher Price and ask what they were thinking. Her barn – well the top comes off. No noises come from the farm, and honestly it just looks like a barn lunch pail. Saddened that such a shitty birthday gift made it on her doorstep (compliments of Amazon), we later found a toy store and had fun seeing what fascinated her. In the end we found a cute bowling set up of animals, and had fun having her roll the ball to knock them over. What child does not love knocking over anything? I have to say, I am not biased or anything, but Charlie is damn good at kicking a ball.

After some online research, I found the original Fisher Price Little People Farm going for over $100. Seriously? Fisher Price needs to go back to its roots and produce a toy that lasts as long as the one I used to play with — I mean it lived in the nursery of my church for years and years. Bring back your vintage farm. It was worth it just to hear the moo when you opened the door.


One thought on “Our toys have gotten shitty

  1. well – i hate to pull out my engineer/finance side but guess what – $125 is about the right price if it sold for $20 in the 1970’s when taking inflation into account. Let me both provide the back story and quantify my assertions.

    Inflation is defined as a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money – the value of a service or product increases requiring more money to buy it ergo the fall in purchasing power. way way back when, trade was exactly that – trade. I need chickens, you need wheat. I trade you wheat for the chickens. Trouble with barter was that I needed to both find someone who had what I needed and needed what I had. Well, this spawned the notion of an exchange currency. Way back when, most common currency was coins that were made of precious metal allowing the buyer and seller exchange goods without barter. Coins were standardized on weight (and why coins have those little bumps on the outer ring – to prevent greedy people from scraping a little precious metal off of thousands of coins and make money). Other forms of currency that have been documented are cigarettes, ammunition, animal pelts and salt. The key to these other forms were that they could easily be exchanged for any goods or services. What causes inflation in these economies is war (not productive to invest in stuff only to blow it up), sudden inflow of the currency commodity (a gold rush), or a loss of government or economy confidence (a run on the banks or a bursting bubble).

    Now during the age of precious metal coins, we found that carrying coinage is not reasonable for major transactions or travel through unprotected areas. The Knights Templar, owners and protectors of the road from Europe to the Holy Land, became very rich from their exploits (topic for another paper) but invented the base of our current banking system. They allowed rich travelers make a deposit of in their London temple and then were given a voucher to make a withdrawal from their Bethlehem temple when they got there. This voucher was backed by the gold in their temples ushering in paper currency that was linked to a commodity (like gold or silver).
    In more recent history, Nixon ended the gold standard by which we as a county had gold to back every dollar which moved around our economy. This then ushered in our modern age of fiat currency or the faith in the government or the market where the only value is supply and demand. But then the markets are subject to more volatility given that valuing the US market is subjective where valuing gold is less subjective and more global (gold is gold in the USA all the way to the smallest republic on earth). We’ve yet to see what will happen to our dollar value as the growth markets change given that the United Kingdom hit their economic saturation point while still on a pound sterling (silver) and not on a fiat currency when investment capital was heading to the 13 colonies. We have no tangible precedent to guide us today.

    Now, back to Little People.

    Taking the average inflation rate for the 70’s, 80’s to 10’s (7%, 5.5%, 3%, 2.6%, 2.3% respectively) and run a simple change in the value of a dollar, $20 in 1970 = $125 in 2015. A person making $9,000 in 1970 = $56,000 in 2015. We have this weird bias to want prices to stay the same at the cost of quality and/or taxation in the forms of subsidies (gas is a clear case in point – USA gas is heavily subsidized, EU gas is not as much – according to arbitrage, cost per gallon should always converge). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in a 1990’s report “How family spending has changed in the U.S.,” at the turn of the century (1900), a household spent 40% of their income on food and 15% on food. By the early 1970’s, only 23% of income was spent on food and 16% on shelter. Where is all this extra money going? Cars and entertainment – stuff. Yet if I take my little inflation model and input the median household income in 1970 or $9,000 that same median household income is $55,000 in 2014. According to BLS, the Median Household Income is $52,000 so my model holds weight – we are making the same amount today as we did in the 1970s.

    So again, why do we have this need to either have false prices (subsidized gas) or receive crap quality so our Little People Farm cost only $35 in 2015 or $5.34 in 1970’s dollars (i guarantee that a little people farm in 1970 cost $5)? I personally feel that it’s our way to cover our eyes, shove our head in the ground and not have to see what’s going on in the world.


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