I have arranged the lists so that we can compare them side by side:
The first thing we notice is that no two countries embrace the same properties. It is a bit astonishing when we consider that we live in a world in which we are so interconnected. We watch the same movies, enjoy some of the same social platforms and share each other’s television shows. So, our first lesson is that the world is far more diverse and exciting than we may have thought.
Secondly, despite the differences in taste, the origins of these properties cross cultures. Consider Godzilla; he is of Japanese origin yet has been the international star of movies for decades. Lego, a Danish company, is one of Italy's top properties, as are Barbie and LOL Surprise, both born in the USA. Leonardo and Michaelangelo must be shaking their heads in wonder.
Germans enjoy American made CoComelon while Americans are in love with Japan’s Nintendo Switch. Of course, UK citizens love their own Paddington, but have embraced America’s Love Monsters and Blues Clues.
Russia stays home with its favorites. All three of its national favorites are homegrown, although they do enjoy international distribution.
Except for The Mandalorian, Lego, Nintendo Switch, and Godzilla, the choices reflect the tastes of children under eight years old. Having said that, America, with its love of The Mandalorian and Nintendo, seems to be a country in which adults, not children, dominate its tastes in brands. Do American adults dominate play more than other countries? It’s an interesting question.
However, if we do consider whether it is a child’s tastes that reflect a nation's broader culture, we can assess how our cultural differences, though subtle, may be far more significant than we think.
On the other hand, what most of these properties have in common is sweetness. For instance, all three Russian properties are cute: Moonzy is fluffy, Masha and the Bear are soft-looking, and Fixies are very cute.
One final observation is the rise of alternatives to television and movies and launching pads for these properties. For example, CoComelon and Love Diana are YouTube creations, and The Mandalorian was brought to us by Disney +.
It appears that though our cultural differences may well affect what we choose to embrace, there is a commonality of interest in portraying to children that the world should be a loving place, full of adventure, very charming and at times fluffy.
About the author:
Richard Gottlieb is the CEO of Global Toy Experts, founded in 1994, which provides consulting services to international toy companies. Richard is also the publisher of Global Toy News, a web-based magazine founded in 2009, co-organizer of the annual Toy Talks Forum in Shenzhen, China and co-host of The Playground Podcast.