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Hilary Page Toys

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2008-07-05 - Hilary F. Page - 1946 (Courtesy of David Bowsher)

Plastics as a Medium for Toys
By Hilary F. Page

From
‘Daily Graphic Plastics Exhibition in association with the British Plastics Federation’ Exhibition Catalogue – Dorland Hall, November 7th – 27th 1946

PLASTICS HAVE SOLVED the greatest problems for the designer and manufacturer of toys for babies and young children. For generations we have tried to find some type of paint or enamel which cannot be sucked or gnawed off, in view of the fact that practically every toy or plaything given to a baby or a young child goes straight to his mouth. This is a perfectly natural instinct, because he is endeavouring to find out whether it is fit to eat and also he is helping his teeth to come through by biting on a hard surface.
Mothers are becoming much more hygienically minded, and they realize that every baby’s toy should be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water once a day. This can be done with toys moulded from urea. Dust and germs cannot cling to the bright shiny surface, and the range of bright colours is most attractive and interesting to the child.

Perfect Design is Essential
The manufacturer who has been used to working in woods and metals, often fails to realize that the design must be perfect before the moulds are made, because little can be done to strengthen up a moulding which is brittle or too weak owing to insufficient wall thickness.
The one danger of the advent of plastics into the field of babies\\' toys comes from the attempt by competing manufacturers to undercut their competitors in price by skimping the thickness and lightening the article. Baby’s toys are subjected to extremely hard wear; almost inevitably they will be thrown out of the pram on to the ground, and an article which is quickly broken is in every way most unsatisfactory.

The Most Suitable Materials
As a designer of infants’ and educational toys, with a vast experience of the requirements of mothers and young children, it is my opinion that while thermosetting plastics are in every way suitable for toys for babies and young children, in most cases thermoplastics are not the right material. Even if instructions are enclosed with a toy moulded from a thermoplastic, telling the mother that it must only be washed in lukewarm water, sooner or later she will attempt to wash it in hot water with disastrous results. Even with thermosetting plastics, when used for toys, great care must be taken to ensure accurate curing, because the toys are going to be subjected to constant washing, and if they are inaccurately cured they are liable to be hydroscopic and will tend to absorb the water and disintegrate.
Toy manufacturers entering the plastics field for the first time should employ the services of a really good plastics designer who will be conversant with possible snags.
Plastics can represent the ideal material for toys for babies and young children, but the great possibilities of these materials will be lost if the market becomes flooded with badly designed plastic toys which will not stand up to the requirements of the nursery.