Get ready for action… figures!

The Toys That Made Us is a documentary series chronicling the creation, rise and fall of the most popular toy lines, each episode focusing solely on one property – though it would be unjust and impossible to not bring in each line’s influences and competitors for context.

An episode of The Toys That Made Us goes further and deeper into what is essentially mass-moulded plastic, screws and fabric. And that’s what makes The Toys That Made Us good. For it’s not an hour-long categorizing of every Star Wars action figure designed and pressed, but the context of why the toy line was nearly doomed but fought through the odds – never before had a toy line for a film been produced – to become among the most successful and collected toy lines while reinventing sizing and articulation of action figures forever. Covering the aforementioned Star Wars, as well as Barbie, He-Man and G.I. Joe, there’s bound to be something from nearly everyone’s childhood to invoke a “hey I remember those” moments.

But nostalgia-baiting aside (a very common offense perpetuated by Netflix as of late in their original series, with Stranger Things, GLOW, The Get Down, and several Black Mirror episodes, to name a few), The Toys That Made Us is a high-quality documentary series. This isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill How It’s Made or some such churned-out doc series. Each episode features the key players in each toy lines’ creation, and the light-hearted and goofy tone suits something as inconsequential-yet-serious as action figures and dolls. A key factor in good documentary production is finding the niche pieces of information and communicating them so that they’re interesting to the layman, and does The Toys That Made Us ever have that. Who cares that G.I. Joe created the term action figure to sell dolls to boys? Well, this series makes sure you do.

There are four episodes thus far, though its theme song brags about it being an eight-part documentary series, so one can only hope that they cover the glaring omissions: Transformers, Cabbage Patch Kids and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and whatever your favourite toyline was.

Recommended for: Anyone who grew up with any kind of toy collection/habit.

Categories: Documentary Review

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