I heard a bit on NPR this morning during my drive to work and immediately caught myself thinking this can't possibly be, but the more I thought about it...
Seems that back during the airing of the first Mickey Mouse Club show, Mattel had aired a first in toy commercials (the burb gun, I believe) by airing a commercial for a toy during a non standard time. Imagine toy commercials during children's programming and not Christmas time, why the nerve. Anyway the first thing that popped into my mind was " I thought the first commercial was for Barbie or Mr. Potato Head???" Well they were talking about the commercial being aired during the show. This event was said to herald the time of defining children's play. From this time on children would use less and less of their imagination as toy company's defined play time and play patterns.
Okay I'm in traffic thinking that can't be I remember taking Mego Spock on many unscripted adventures, or putting on the Batbelt to fight all sorts of imagined crime in Gotham City, and... Holy Crap! They were right! I can't remember a moment that I wasn't given some sort of "prop" to act out my adventures! Granted I played with sticks and rocks when I was a kid, but a majority of my play centered around toys, which I'm betting many others of you had the same. The only thing that I could find comforting was that today's kids were threatened by this even more so. Bonus for us, not so good for them.
This news report has peeked my curiosity to look more into this.