A toy is an inanimate (non-living) or artifically animate (robotic) object designed to be played with.
Toys are usually associated with children, who derive joy from them through active play, but there are toys which are expensive, grandious, elaborate, or extremely functional; these elicit a feeling of desire, and adults may derive pleasure from simply owning such items. A corvette is often referred to as a "big boy's toy" whereas a rattle would be a toy for a baby. Humans also buy toys for their pets: for cats, animals stuffed with catnip; for dogs, a rubber bone or a facsimilie of a real-world item that is designed to "squeak".
Toys are usually designed with purpose and gender in mind. Models of cars, trucks, weapons, and other "flashy" and functional toys are often marketed toward boys, while dolls, home appliance simulations, "beauty kits", design and decoration kits, are marketed toward girls. However this distinction while having commercial implication, may not be made in all households. Parents may choose to raise their children to pursue their interests and not assign gender designations to toy selections.
Some toys, such as puzzles and games, are marketed independant of gender, although frequenly in advertisements boys are depicted playing them.
In the early 1990s, Mattel released an edition of their "Barbie" doll named "Teen Talk Barbie", which featured a voice activation preprogrammed with several phrases. The doll was critized by the American Association of University WOmen for having the phrase "Math class is tough" in it's repitoire. In 1992 the doll was reprogrammed to choose one of 269 responses, eliminating the phrase, and Mattel offered a swap for anyone that wished to exchange the doll in question.
Some toys are manufactured in conjuction with movies, cartoons, or television shows and thus have an implied "value" associated with them. In these markets some toys are only in manufacture for a short period of time, and the popularity of the toys results in increased demand. This places them in a "collector" status, and may be more valuable in the future depending on certain conditions such as packaging, integrity, and appearance.
Not all collectable toys are made in association with promotions. Some toys are produced with error, which increases their value due to the limited production with that error; such mistakes are sometimes corrected in future productions.
- Mattel Says It Erred; Teen Talk Barbie Turns Silent on Math. New York Times (October 21, 1992). Retrieved on 2007-10-02.