Toy Store Commercials of the 80s

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 17, 2009 in Hobbies and Collections, Television |

Both of these spots are from 1986 and solve the unique challenge that while toy ads sell to kids, toy store ads must sell to adults. The Toys R Us ad does a nice job of this as it’s appealing to the kid inside all of us, I especially the oversized robot which comes in about 5 seconds into the spot. The Lionel Playworld spot takes more of a Footlose approach to the problem, but for all the shoulder pads and singing you don’t get the feeling that they’re really having a good time of it:

…and sadly Lionel Playworld would go under just a few years later in 1993. To be fair the toy market was a tough one even then, you most of your money during the Christmas season and then you might get hammered with returns in January.

Although it’s interesting to note that Lionel Playworld was owned by Lionel Corporation who created some amazing toys like — everything from the famous Easy Bake Oven to the a well known line of model trains. At one point their toy store chain was the 2nd largest in the United States, but they got hit badly by the recession in the early 80s and never quite recovered. Also Toys R Us was a discounting powerhouse (ala Wallmart) which really killed them in terms of pricing.

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