No, the title of this entry doesn’t refer to vertically-challenged individuals. "Little People" is a set of toys sold by Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel. If you’re a parent of a young child you probably know about this toy set. I think it’s one of the many nifty product lines for toddlers available on the market. They’re really cool, and if you look at them with an analytical eye you’ll know just how clever they are. I’ve met several parents in the U.S. who have bought their toddlers a least one of the "Little People" toy sets. Yesterday we bought our son the "Discovery Village" set on sale at Toys ‘R’ Us. He already had the "Garage" set and Noah’s Ark along with the stable set. You can buy small sets for about $14.99 or large sets for up to $39.99. The "Village" is the centerpiece. Each one is interchange and interconnectable so that you can connect the "Village" with the "Garage". The plastic people, animals, and vehicles are also interchange. There’s quite a few sets available, including an airport, circus, house, farm, zoo, and train set. The larger sets are battery-powered and feature some neat songs and sounds triggered when you push something. (For instance, pushing a plastic phone causes the phone to ring.). Fisher-Price personalized "Little People" by creating a set of children who live in Discovery Village. Sarah Lynn and her twin Eddie, Michael, Sonya Lee, and Maggie are the stars of "Little Price", but there’s also quite a supporting cast of adults and animals (I still haven’t seen their parents though–where are they?). Each one has a unique personality and represents a unique racial background. Each set comes with a VHS video tape featuring each character in a short clip about something happening in and around "Discovery Village." Maggie and friends deliver the mail, Eddie learns about recycling, Michael saves a vehicle, Sonya Lee saves the farmer’s dairy ranch. The Aaron Neville theme song is catchy. I have to slap myself sometimes when I find myself humming it. "Little People" definitely keep my son entertained for hours on end. His playroom looks like a miniature city now. He has a lot of fun playing with them. The challenge is to keep track of the different parts. "Jack" the car guy disappeared somewhere–maybe he went out to lunch or relocated.
Why do I highlight this product line in particularly? Did I find a calling as a pitchman for Fisher-Price? No, although I do like their products as do many other parents. I just find it fascinating analyzing how much development effort the company put into its product. The tapes bring the toy sets to life for children and serve as a nice little advertisement and encourage parents to buy more "Little People" products for their kids. The interchangeable sets also encourage you to buy more sets to complement the ones that you have. It’s an interesting way to market a product. It’s a commercialization strategy Disney has been very successful at implementing–taking Mickey Mouse far beyond a Steamboat Willie. Fisher-Price could consider development a "Little People" TV series or feature film to build a following, although they may risk over-commercializing the product. However, with so many pieces and sets it’s obvious that Fisher-Price has a winning franchise. If you’re a parent with an infant or toddler and haven’t checked out "Little People," keep an eye out for them. Your child will be happy and your wallet will be lighter.