My Thoughts On Toys R Us Filing For Bankruptcy Protection

What can be disheartening is when your childhood memories go away doesn't it? I remembered getting toys from Toys R Us on the Holiday Season during the 90s. I thought about how interest can switch from toys to video games in one easy step. I felt it myself especially when I saw some children look forward to the coolest video game than the coolest toy around.

I decided to read NBC News where it reveals something about what could have gone wrong. Video games are now the latest competitor. I remembered how my childhood went from the toy store to the video game store. It was still old school gaming when loading times were pretty slow. It wasn't the glorious time of DVD technology in video games for that time.

The digital age vs. physical toys?

Here's an interesting excerpt that I think I could use to analyze the situation:

Toys Swiped to the Side
"They got stuck in 1985," Robyn O'Bryan, an author based in Boulder, Colorado and the mother of four children, told NBC News. "I'm kind of surprised they managed to hang on."

While O'Bryan and other parents say physical toys are still a big deal for younger kids, the iPad and other electronic devices are an irresistible draw. By age seven, most kids these days have largely set aside their physical toys in favor of virtual attractions.

"There's a thing about being a dad where you can all of a sudden buy these toys, sometimes ones you never had, and play with your kid and revisit childhood," said Kipp Jarecke-Cheng, a communications chief and father of two from Maplewood, New Jersey. "It's somewhat bittersweet when they put those things down."

While Jarecke-Cheng did find himself in a Toys R Us recently to look for toys for his soon-to-be three-year-old daughter, purchases for his 6th-grade son primarily come in the form of gift cards to be redeemed inside the Xbox or Steam game systems. Those and App Store dollars aren't flowing toward Toys R Us any more.

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8-18 year-olds are spending nearly 8 hours a day using entertainment media.

Concerned parents have sounded the alarm, setting limits on screen and internet time. The American Pediatrics Association recommends no screen time for children under the age of 18 months and limited screen time for 18-24 months, solely consisting of high-quality programming in the presence of an adult who can talk to the child about what's going on.

But what if you threw all the rules out?

Megan Zander, a 33-year-old staff writer for CafeMom, tried an experiment with her then three-year-old twin boys. For three days, she let them have as much screen time as they wanted. Frosting cakes in Daniel Tiger, feeding people in Toca Kitchen, making their own hamburger in Lego Duplex (food is favorite topic), they could gorge as much as they wanted.

Part of her wanted to see if they would tire of it if the forbidden fruit aspect was taken away. Another part just wanted a break as a then-freelancing mom working at home.

"I thought they were going to turn into little zombies. They're going to stop speaking and never want to play with their toys," Zander said. Instead, "I was able to strike a balance."

She knows that they're not equivalent and playing with virtual worlds can't substitute for the real thing.

"You can build the most beautiful 3-D world, but nothing is going to replace the fine motor or social skills by picking up two blocks and stacking them on top of each other," said Zander.

I could relate to that to how physical toys can be set aside. It reminded me of how my younger cousins who once owned the first Playstation wanted another video game over a toy. This also included the whole "balance thing" as Zander seeks to strike balance. I would say that physical toys do still play a role in the world of make believe. What's with the balance? Physical toys can be bought online. Manufacturers would be using some kind of digital technology to help in toy production these days. You can search for the latest toys that you can give and what they do. I believe keeping this balance is very important.

Rebuilding the brand?

What's interesting is that there's also the new move by Toys R Us CEO which could be a good move in this digital age:

Toys R Us CEO David Brandon said in a statement the bankruptcy protection period will give the company flexibility with its creditors to redesign the in-store shopping experience and pivot towards creating "interactive spaces" that will host birthday parties, product demonstrations, and let employees take toys out of the boxes before purchase. In addition, he said the company had reached out to app developers to start creating augmented reality video games.

"We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands live on for many generations," said Brandon.

The company confirmed its 1,600 stores will remain open through the holiday season.

The old model is already outdated. So there's already the "interactive spaces" which I think should be done in this time and age. I don't know if it's going to be feasible to host birthday parties while I think the product demonstration would be a good thing. I think allowing the child to have a limited experience would let them decide which toy they want for the day. It's like would you want the Star Wars action figure or the Marvel action figure? 

For hosting birthday parties I think they could look for ways to get interactive considering that most birthday parties are held at places like McDonald's, KFC and Jollibee. It might mean making a collaboration with establishments to host the birthday part since Toys R Us is a toy store. I hope that they can find ways to host birthday parties if they ever intend to. It may also incur an extra expense though so they may want to stick with the product demonstrations and interactive toy experience to be the start of new changes for a better brand.

Hopefully, CEO Brandon's new steps will help save the business. They better try and see what's wrong, fix it or they might as well leave it. 


What do you think of this scenario for Toys R Us?