Kaleidoscope: Children of the Cold War
The powerful plastics industry
The introduction of polyethylene-based plastic in Eastern Germany revolutionised socialist toy production in the 1960s. Prior to this, toys had been made of materials such as celluloid, which was fragile and flammable. Plastic symbolised the power and development of the socialist economy and its capacity to reform itself. Toys could now be produced cheaply in huge quantities.
Toys were also used as tools of propaganda. They reinforced well-defined roles in children as selfless and productive citizens and workers and parents of the future. These predetermined roles were often forgotten when children started playing and inventing new uses for their toys.