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This essay explores the linkage between modern children's consumer culture and the globalization of the design and manufacture of playthings. While toy production and innovation were centered in Germany from the 17th through 19th centuries, it shifted to the U.S. and Japan, recently to China in the 20th century. The authors chronicle why the U.S. and Japan drifted from production to product design and marketing and how China became the locus of manufacturing in the last 20 years. Playthings have long roots in local folk cultures and crafts, and regional and national traditions of toy and doll making have long reinforced ethnic and local identities in children. But the construction of modern childhood over the past century especially has paralleled the decline of these craft traditions and the emergence of a global children's commercial culture.