The article examines the role of toys in the life and development of children. It traces the developmental trajectory of shaped toys in Europe and Russia from antiquity to the present day. It also shows the role of ideological factors in shaping the image of toys as well as long lasting contradiction between the developing features of toys and their market values. The article presents the comparative analysis of the image and the playing potential of the traditional and modern popular dolls. Functions of toys as mediums and tools for the transmission of cultural norms is exemplifies by gender stereotypes: it shows how the peculiarity of toys for boys and girls, affects the nature of the game. In the conclusion the article examines the main trends and problems of development of the market of modern toys.