Continuing the discussion from The value of self guided imagination:
I think that mass produced toys can have merit but on a case by case basis I think there is a certain balance to make sure it isn't "too much of a 'good' thing."
I recently completed an environmental science class where there was an emphasis on sustainability. One thing that interests me here is the increasing possibility of sustainability in toys, regardless of the type of toy and whether or not it is a mass produced and branded item.
From upcoming and recent advances in the recyclability of 3D printer materials to natural repurposing with old fashioned crafting, I think one way that we can address the issue of "plasticated crap taking up space in the home and on the planet" as a global society by encouraging and exploring the reuse of materials for toys. This also adds value and can help reduce intimidation of tinkering in an unknown field. For instance, with 3D printing, a combination of reclamation device and custom material can ensure that any "failed" prints can be reshaped in the same spirit of tinkering with modeling clay. Albeit slower at this stage, there's still not a real risk of failure when you can just chip or grind your material back into filament or powder and try again.
This type of advance may end up helping us out where sustainability is concerned, too. There are a number of projects out there where people are tinkering with the idea of "chuck in your plastic soda or water bottle and spit out some filament." NASA is making astounding progress in that arena for us, once again a too frequently unsung hero.
What do you think?