loren Eric Swanson: John Handy on Toys

Saturday, April 29, 2006

John Handy on Toys

John always has little gems that he drops into his presentations or in offline conversations. Mattel, for instance, designs "delight factors" into many of their products--cool features that are never advertised but nonetheless left for the curious to discover. So on a particular toy, there might be a very small signiture with a Website that can be seen only under a small magnifying glass. This Website will welcome the inquisitor and tell how the toy was designed and a few more hidden features. On some Hot Wheels, there is a small lever that releases the body from the chasis only to reveal another full car and chasis beneath--again, no advertisement...but plenty of word of mouth once it is discovered. What would be different if we included delight factors in our different aspects of ministry? We have tried to link minor delight factors into the Websites we build that accompany each Leadership Community gathering. So clicking on the phrase, "...God made us for a purpose" will have a hyperlink to the porpoise exhibit at sea world. Or a video of Pat Robertson might link, not to CBN, but to Turtlenecks.com.

John believes that toys and play are the ways that children learn to aspire. He told us about Jackie Joiner who would put her Barbie up on the medal stand long before she became an Olympic Gold Medalist. Though a nine year old sister can push a seven year old boy around, when he is at play, playing with action figures, or video games for that matter, he is courageous, conquering evil, protecting his country, fighting along side his companions and he is living out the role that he aspires to be. Through toys he is strong, and brave and courageous and plays out life stories of good over evil.

I think of how I played--playing cowboys and army (always calling each other "Joe"), building forts and riding horseback on the branches of trees. We were brave. We won or if we died it was with a dramatic fall with which we were shot...only to rise again. I think of my boys playing with their GI Joes, Masters of the Universe, Karate Kid, Ninja Turtles. Each in our way we were playing at the lessons of life. The environments that we played in were different but the aspirations were the same. We learn courage first through play.