11-3 | From Displays and Dioramas to Doll Dramas


From Displays and Dioramas to Doll Dramas
Adult World Building and World Playing with Toys

Katriina Heljakka and J. Tuomas Harviainen


Toys both guide and foster the play—and stimulate the imaginations—of players of all ages. The authors investigate adult use of toys as a point of entry to the world play of both transmedia-connected and stand alone toy characters—dolls, action figures, and soft toys. They point to how adult toy players engage actively in world building in their world play and suggest that play better describes the object relations of adults with toys than such notions as collecting or pursuing a hobby. They discuss how adults use world playing with toys to develop toy industry back stories and replay—and sometimes revolutionize—original story lines familiar from popular fiction. And they highlight how mature audiences for character toys employ these physical objects to explore their capacity for imaginative, spatial, and hybrid world play. Key words: adult play and creativity; object play; object relations; photo play; social media and adult play; social play; toys; toy play; world building; world play