The Toys That Made Us

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The Toys That Made Us
The Toys That Made Us Netflix television series logo.png
Created byBrian Volk-Weiss
Directed by
Narrated byDonald Ian Black
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes12
Executive producer(s)
  • Brian Volk-Weiss
  • Tom Stern
  • Cisco Henson
  • Anne Carkeet
  • Edwin Zane
Running time43-51 minutes
Production company(s)The Nacelle Company
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseDecember 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) –

The Toys That Made Us is an American documentary web television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss.[1] The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017,[2] and the next four were released in May 25, 2018.[3] The 8-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focuses on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man, Barbie and G.I. Joe toy lines[4][5] with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty, and Star Trek,[6] which aired on May 25, 2018.[7] On July 19, 2018, it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con that the show had been picked up for a third season, with episodes featuring Power Rangers, Wrestling, My Little Pony, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and will release on Neflix in November 15, 2019.[8] [9]


Season 1 (2017)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal release date
11"Star Wars"December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22)
In 1977, after being rejected by Mattel and Hasbro, Lucasfilm signed with Kenner Products to have toys produced for their sci-fi film Star Wars. This was a huge gamble, as Kenner was a small toy company at the time and the negotiation process started late due to George Lucas' secrecy over the ship designs. Since then, toy sales of the Star Wars franchise have totaled to US$14 billion worldwide.
22"Barbie"December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22)
In a toy industry dominated by the male demographic, Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler broke new ground in 1959 when she took a concept based on the German Bild Lilli doll and introduced the world to Barbie. The toy line has since become the largest selling doll and one of the most influential toys in modern history, selling over a billion dolls globally.
33"He-Man"December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22)
Searching for a new toy line for boys to compete with Star Wars after their toy lines for Clash of the Titans and Flash Gordon flopped, designers at Mattel saw inspiration from Frank Frazetta's artworks, as well as their creative imagination, and launched the Masters of the Universe action figures. The toy line dominated in sales from US$38.2 million in 1982 to US$400 million in 1986 before its demise in 1987 as a result of sales dropping to US$7 million and the critical and financial failure of the live-action film adaptation.
44"G.I. Joe"December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22)
Introduced in 1964, Hasbro's G.I. Joe: America's Movable Fighting Man was the first action figure in toy history, but an oil crisis and declining sales led to the line's demise in 1978. Desperate to hold their own against Kenner's Star Wars line, Hasbro took inspiration from the Reagan-era Cold War to revive the line as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in 1982, making over US$51 million that year and becoming one of the most influential boys' toys of all time.

Season 2 (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal release date
51"Star Trek"May 25, 2018 (2018-05-25)
Since the original series went on the air in 1966, the Star Trek franchise has had a history of ups and downs in the toy business - from AMT's faithful scale model kit of the USS Enterprise to Remco's obscure tie-in merchandise, to Mego's best–selling action figure line. Following Mego's bankruptcy in 1983 and a string of flops by Ertl and Galoob, Playmates Toys picked up the toy license in the late 1980s and sparked a resurgence in the franchise's toy sales. From the mid-2000s onwards, companies such as Art Asylum and McFarlane Toys continue to keep the Star Trek toy franchise alive.
62"Transformers"May 25, 2018 (2018-05-25)
In 1983, when Hasbro was looking for a fresh, new line to sell alongside G.I. Joe, they bought the license of the Diaclone and Micro Change toys from Takara, then commissioned Marvel Comics to come up with a story-line and character names for the toys. The result: Transformers. Despite Tonka releasing the cheaper Gobots line six months earlier, Hasbro's Transformers took the toy market by storm in 1984, raking in US$150 million that year. At the peak of the toy line's popularity, The Transformers: The Movie hit theaters to further capitalize on its success, but the film polarized fans and collectors with the death of Optimus Prime and majority of the original characters. As Hasbro took full control of Transformers from Takara by the late 1980s, sales declined until the toy line was discontinued in 1991. After the failed Generation 2 reboot, Beast Wars rejuvenated the franchise in 1995. In 2007, the live-action Transformers film solidified Transformers' position as Hasbro's flagship toy line.
73"LEGO"May 25, 2018 (2018-05-25)
In 1949, after decades of making wooden furniture and toys, Ole Kirk Christiansen's small factory in Billund, Denmark, moved to plastic and created the "Automatic Binding Bricks", which would later be known as LEGO. When the company patented the tube system in 1958, LEGO became the dominant toy line worldwide throughout the 1960s and 1970s. When other competitors capitalized on the expiration of the company's patents in the 1980s, LEGO faced stiff competition until they reported their first loss in 1998. Poor business decisions with film licenses and the failure of the Jack Stone and Galidor lines brought LEGO to near-bankruptcy until Jørgen Vig Knudstorp took over the company and, by bringing it back to its roots, rejuvenated LEGO's profits. By the time The Lego Movie hit theaters in 2014, LEGO became the largest toy franchise in the world.
84"Hello Kitty"May 25, 2018 (2018-05-25)
After leaving his job in the government, Japanese bureaucrat Shintaro Tsuji formed a toy and gift company in 1960 that would later be known as Sanrio. The company had success producing merchandise for popular manga such as Anpanman before purchasing the license for Peanuts. But after being fed up with paying royalties to Charles M. Schulz, Sanrio decided to create their own characters. In 1974, Tsuji and designer Yuko Shimizu worked on a cat-based character that eventually became Hello Kitty. Since her debut, Hello Kitty has become not only the best–selling girl's toy in Japan, but also a pop culture icon for all ages worldwide, earning at least US$5 billion a year.

Season 3 (2019)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal release date
91"Power Rangers"November 15, 2019
102"Wrestling"November 15, 2019
113"My Little Pony"November 15, 2019
124"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"November 15, 2019


  1. ^ "A toy story for nerds like us—Netflix's The Toys That Made Us doc drops next week". Ars Technica. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  2. ^ "New on Netflix in December: 'The Crown,' 'Fuller House,' and more". Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  3. ^ Hall, Charlie (2017-12-29). "Netflix's The Toys That Made Us explains how Star Wars changed toys forever". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  4. ^ "Here's What's New to Stream in December on Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu". Vogue. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  5. ^ "Netflix Series THE TOYS THAT MADE US to Premiere on December 22nd - Outright Geekery". Outright Geekery. 2017-11-21. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  6. ^ The Toys That Made Us season two will feature Lego, Star Trek and more, Charlie Hall, Posted January 10, 2018, Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  7. ^ "What's coming soon to Netflix UK in May 2018?". VOD News. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Moore, Kasey (September 4, 2019). "'The Toys That Made Us' Season 3 Coming to Netflix in November 2019". What's on Netflix. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "Toys That Made Us Season 3 Will Feature Power Rangers, Wrestling, TMNT, and My Little Pony". Bleeding Cool News. July 19, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.