Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Toy


Although television, computer games and the Internet play an important role in the lives of children they still also play with physical toys, such as dolls, cars and LEGO bricks. The LEGO company has become the world’s largest toy manufacturer. Our study investigates if the LEGO company’s products have become more violent over time. First, we analyzed the frequency of weapon bricks in LEGO sets. Their use has significantly increased. Second, we empirically investigated the perceived violence in the LEGO product catalogs from the years 1978-2014. Our results show that the violence of the depicted products has increased significantly over time. The LEGO Company’s products are not as innocent as they used to be.

Concepts: Violence, Play, Game, Toy, Lego, Doll, Mattel


About 200 second-hand plastic toys sourced in the UK have been analysed by x-ray fluorescence spectrometry for hazardous elements (As, Ba, Cd, Cr, Hg, Pb, Sb, Se) and Br as a proxy for brominated flame retardants. Each element was detected in > 20 toys or components thereof with the exception of As, Hg and Se, with the frequent occurrence of Br, Cd and Pb and at maximum concentrations of about 16,000, 20,000 and 5000 μg g-1, respectively, of greatest concern from a potential exposure perspective. Migration was evaluated on components of 26 toys under simulated stomach conditions (0.07 M HCl) with subsequent analysis by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry. In eight cases, Cd or Pb exceeded their migration limits as stipulated by the current EU Toy Safety Directive (17 and 23 μμ g-1, respectively), with Cd released from yellow and red Lego bricks exceeding its limit by an order of magnitude. Two further cases were potentially non-compliant based on migratable Cr, with one item also containing > 250 μg g-1 migratable Br. While there is no retroactive regulation on second-hand toys, consumers should be aware that old, mouthable, plastic items may present a source of hazardous element exposure to infants.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence, Chemistry, Flame retardant, Plasma, Brominated flame retardant, Toy, Lego


We tested the hypothesis that an environment with fewer toys will lead to higher quality of play for toddlers. Each participant (n=36) engaged in supervised, individual free play sessions under two conditions: Four Toy and Sixteen Toy. With fewer toys, participants had fewer incidences of toy play, longer durations of toy play, and played with toys in a greater variety of ways (Z=-4.448, p<0.001, r=-0.524; Z=2.828, p=0.005, r=0.333; and Z=4.676, p<0.001, r=0.55, respectively). This suggests that when provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively. This can be offered as a recommendation in many natural environments to support children's development and promote healthy play.

Concepts: Environment, Natural environment, Play, Environmentalism, Environmental science, Game, Toy


LEGO bricks are commercially available interlocking pieces of plastic that are conventionally used as toys. We describe their use to build engineered environments for cm-scale biological systems, in particular plant roots. Specifically, we take advantage of the unique modularity of these building blocks to create inexpensive, transparent, reconfigurable, and highly scalable environments for plant growth in which structural obstacles and chemical gradients can be precisely engineered to mimic soil.

Concepts: Species, Plant, Botany, Tree, Root, Toy, Civil engineering, Lego


Silica hybrid materials play an important role in improvement of novel progressive functional nanomaterials. Study in silica hybrid functional materials is supported by growing interest in providing intelligent materials that combine best of the inorganic silica structure along with organic or biological realms. Hybrid silica materials do not only provide fantastic opportunities for the design of novel materials for research but their represented unique properties open versatile applications specifically in nanomedicine since it was recognized by US FDA as a safe material for human trials. By combining various materials with different characteristics along with silica NPs as building blocks, silica-based hybrid vehicles were developed. In this regard, silica-based hybrid materials have shown great capabilities as unique carriers for bioimaging and/or drug delivery purposes. In the aforementioned hybrid systems, silica was preferred as a main building block of the hybrid structure, which is easily functionalized with different materials, bio-molecules and targeting ligands while providing biocompatibility for the system. This review will cover a full description of different hybrids of silica nanoparticles including silica-polymer, silica-protein, silica-peptide, silica-nucleic acid, silica-gold, silica-quantum dot, and silica-magnetic nanoparticles and their applications as therapeutic or imaging systems.

Concepts: Nanotechnology, Nanomaterials, Sol-gel, Food and Drug Administration, Unit block, Educational toys, Toy, Hybrid vehicle


The LEGO Group has become the largest toy company in the world and they can look back to a proud history of more than 50 years of producing bricks and other toys. Starting with a simple set of basic bricks their range of toys appeared to have increased in complexity over the years. We processed the inventories of most sets from 1955-2015 and our analysis showed that LEGO sets have become bigger, more colorful and more specialized. The vocabulary of bricks has increased significantly resulting in sets sharing fewer bricks. The increased complexity of LEGO sets and bricks enables skilled builders to design ever more amazing models but it may also overwhelm less skilled or younger builders.

Concepts: Toy, Lego, Lego Group, Legoland Windsor, Billund, Denmark, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Ole Kirk Christiansen


There is evidence suggesting that children’s play with spatial toys (e.g., puzzles and blocks) correlates with spatial development. Females play less with spatial toys than do males, which arguably accounts for males' spatial advantages; children with high socioeconomic status (SES) also show an advantage, though SES-related differences in spatial play have been less studied than gender-related differences. Using a large, nationally representative sample from the standardization study of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Fourth Edition, and controlling for other cognitive abilities, we observed a specific relation between parent-reported frequency of spatial play and Block Design scores that was invariant across gender and SES. Reported spatial play was higher for boys than for girls, but controlling for spatial play did not eliminate boys' relative advantage on this subtest. SES groups did not differ in reported frequency of spatial play. Future research should consider quality as well as quantity of play, and should explore underlying mechanisms to evaluate causality.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Cognition, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Boy, Toy, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence


Findings of previous studies demonstrate sex-related preferences for toys in 6-month-old infants; boys prefer nonsocial or mechanical toys such as cars, whereas girls prefer social toys such as dolls. Here, we explored the innate versus learned nature of this sex-related preferences using multiple pictures of doll and real faces (of men and women) as well as pictures of toy and real objects (cars and stoves). In total, 48 4- and 5-month-old infants (24 girls and 24 boys) and 48 young adults (24 women and 24 men) saw six trials of all relevant pairs of faces and objects, with each trial containing a different exemplar of a stimulus type. The infant results showed no sex-related preferences; infants preferred faces of men and women regardless of whether they were real or doll faces. Similarly, adults did not show sex-related preferences for social versus nonsocial stimuli, but unlike infants they preferred faces of the opposite sex over objects. These results challenge claims of an innate basis for sex-related preferences for toy real stimuli and suggest that sex-related preferences result from maturational and social development that continues into adulthood.

Concepts: Motivation, Preference, Binary relation, Toy, Doll


Toys entering the marketplace may have unrecognized hazard risks until data on injury become known. The fidget spinner is a new popular toy mass marketed to children and is primarily sold without warning labels. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently issued a formal statement on potential safety concerns related to ingestion of the toy parts and other hazards. Button batteries within this toy pose the greatest danger to children as ingestion can lead to lethal injury. We report 2 cases of children who swallowed a button battery from a fidget spinner, causing severe esophageal injury. Various aspects of this type of ingestion important for clinicians to be aware of are reviewed.

Concepts: Potential, Safety, Hazard, Toy, Button cell, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Spinners


In the span of a few months, fidget spinners have caught the eyes of millions of children, parents, educators and paediatricians. Fidget spinners, hand-held toys designed to spin freely in your grasp, have become a source of entertainment for consumers of all ages. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, toy marketers have advertised the benefits of fidget spinners for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other disorders (e.g. autism, anxiety, sensory issues). Parents are incentivized by these purported benefits to purchase fidget spinners to improve their child’s concentration and decrease stress.

Concepts: Child, Marketing, Game, Toy