1 Star Wars A small toy company in Cincinnati takes on its biggest licensing project ever, giving birth to the most profitable toy franchise in history.
2 Barbie Inspired by a risqué doll from Germany, the co-founder of Mattel toys forever revolutionized the doll industry for young girls.
3 He-Man Creators responsible for reviving a toy company's struggling action figure line discuss the epic rise and fall of their billion-dollar empire.
4 G.I. Joe Credited with coining the term "action figure" more than 50 years ago, a group of toy marketers reimagined a new genre of dolls for boys.
Episodes Season 2
Premiere Date: May 25, 2018
1 Star Trek Plagued by years of brand mismanagement and product inconsistency, a popular space franchise must overcome its past in a competitive toy market.
2 Transformers Combining ingenious Japanese toys with a creative backstory written by Marvel Comics, Hasbro introduced a line that changed the toy landscape forever.
3 LEGO From humble beginnings in the Danish countryside, this maker of interlocking plastic bricks has become the largest toy manufacturer in the world.
4 Hello Kitty With the motto "small gift, big smile" as its business philosophy, Sanrio founder Shintaro Tsuji turned a "kawaii" kitty into a global phenomenon.
Episodes Season 3
Premiere Date: Nov 15, 2019
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Composer Haim Saban brings to life his unique idea, inspired by the Super Sentai series. His range of toys proves popular even today.
2 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The creators of WrestleMania's toys speak about their popularity. They discuss their successes and challenges of creating such an iconic line.
3 My Little Pony My Little Pony brings happiness to children of every age. These tiny horses managed to redefine the concept of a doll in the age of Barbie.
4 Professional Wrestling Two comic book artists come up with a concept that creates Turtlemania. The popularity of their toys has the industry in awe.
The Toys That Made Us is a Netflix documentary series, basically the ultimate nostalgia trip for kids from the '80s and '90s. The first two seasons offered a pleasurable look back at some of the defining toy lines of decades past and the often rocky road those franchises took from conception to ultimately arriving on the shelves. Season 3 does very little to break the mold, but it does prove there's still plenty of life left in this formula.
Genre: Documentary Executive producers: Brian Volk-Weiss, Tom Stern, Cisco Henson, Anne Carkeet, Edwin Zane Network: Netflix Created by: Brian Volk-Weiss Seasons: 3 Episodes: 12 Runtime: 43-51 minutes
With the first two seasons having exhausted most of the more obvious choices of toy lines (Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Barbie, etc.) Season 3 is able to dig a little deeper and explore some less predictable candidates. There's really only one gaping hole being filled in this batch (that being Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), with the other three episodes venturing down a slightly more esoteric path (My Little Pony, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and pro-wrestling figures).
One episode shows how Hasbro essentially tipped a pile of Japanese toys on to a writer’s desk and ordered him to create the entire Transformers mythology in a weekend. Another wallows in Gene Roddenberry’s dismal taste for under-the-table licensing deals that ended up with a range of Star Trek tanks, Star Trek army soldiers and an official Star Trek “space fun helmet”, effectively a bucket with a lamp on it and the word “SPOCK” written across the front in massive letters. The breakout star of the Star Wars episode is a lawyer by the name of Jim Kipling, who sits and simmers at George Lucas’s avarice under a huge sign that reads: “It’s FUN!”
The series is also, if you look closely enough, a damning look at the ills of capitalism. Again and again we see toy companies hurl out substandard goods – toys that look nothing like their characters, toys that lack invention and, in the case of Star Wars, an empty box with a picture of Luke Skywalker on it – because they want to make as much money as possible before the brats wise up and abandon them for something newer. It is merciless and it makes you question the worth of your childhood.