Toys from teddy bears to Barbie dolls to train sets define our image of childhood innocence. But the truth is that toys represent a $21 billion a year industry, and with so much money at stake, the toy business is anything but child's play. In The Real Toy Story, investigative journalist Eric Clark exposes the startling truths behind Britain s favourite toys. Drawing on interviews with over 200 industry insiders, Clark names and shames the corporations spending millions on research into the best way to manipulate their target audience while manufacturing products in China under virtual slave labour conditions. In a world of cut-throat competition and cold-blooded marketing, toy companies are increasingly willing to sacrifice our children in the rush for profits. And as more children forsake cuddly play things for Ipods and cell phones, companies are using even more extreme tactics- unashamedly using sex and violence to sell dolls and action men to children as young as three - to make sure that their toy is the one that children want to have. The Real Toy Story is essential reading for the millions of adults who care about the toys they choose for the children in their lives
Eric Clark is a former investigative reporter for the Observer and the Guardian. He lives in London.