This may be controversial to some, but to anyone who went toy shopping in Dartmouth in the 1980s, you have to admit that Child World was the much cooler toy store compared to Toys “R” Us.

On the SouthCoast, there were Child World locations in North Dartmouth and Seekonk. The North Dartmouth store was originally one of the anchors of what is now known as the Dartmouth Mall, before later moving over to Faunce Corner Road to the Ann & Hope Plaza.

Of course, Toys “R” Us outlasted Child World by a couple of decades, and had the jump overall. The chain was founded in 1957, based from a store that had originally opened in 1948. Although it was founded in Washington, D.C., New Jersey became its world headquarters.

Child World, however, was a Massachusetts original. It began in Quincy in 1962 before moving its headquarters to Avon in 1968. It acquired the Children’s Palace chain in 1975 and became the No. 2 toy store in America behind – you guessed it – Toys “R” Us.

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It wasn’t uncommon to find both toy stores in the same town, usually no more than a few miles apart. Toys “R” Us was usually its own standalone store, while Child World was usually an anchor store for a mall.

Why was Child World better than Toys “R” Us? Let me break it down for you, but you can do even more research for yourself by checking out all of the commercials, documentaries, circular uploads and more at the Child World Rocks website.

The Mascots: Peter Panda vs. Geoffrey the Giraffe

Look, we all know Geoffrey is an icon. He’s synonymous with toys, second only to Santa Claus. He is the symbol of toy excellence, the same way the Fruit Stripe Gum zebra is the symbol of quickly fading flavor.

But Peter Panda was always happy to play second fiddle to the pitchman or the kids that were featured with him in the commercials. He might roller skate up and down the aisles, but he knew the focus was on the toys.

EDGE: Child World.

The Store Layout

Both Child World and Toys “R” Us made their name by having hundreds of each toy in stock. Don’t see what you want on the shelf? Don’t worry, it’s probably stacked up by the dozens in those boxes above the shelf.

However, the end cap displays at Child World seemed to a young kid to stretch on to the heavens. I distinctly remember digging through the racks on Child World end caps looking for Ram Man from “Masters of the Universe” (found it) and Michaelangelo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (found it later at Zayre).

Toys “R” Us, however, usually had some bicycles and Power Wheels vehicles on the floor that you could actually get away with riding around a bit, at least until your parents caught you.

EDGE: Even.

The Commercial Jingles

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid, there’s a million toys at Toys ‘R’ Us that I can play with. From bikes to trains to video games, it’s the biggest toy store there is. I don’t want to grow up, ‘cause if I did, I couldn’t be a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”

Yeah, I typed those lyrics from memory – but that’s not the only one rattling around in my brain.

“Child World, Child World, let’s take a look and see, Child World, Child World, everything a toy store should be” was one jingle, but a more popular tagline was “A super toy store and a whole lot more!”

I’d say Child World’s jingle was more of an ear worm, but the Toys “R” Us jingle has stood the test of time. Ask anyone on the street to sing it, and I promise they’ll at least get the first two lines.

EDGE: Toys “R” Us.


Every Sunday, I’d open up the newspaper and dig through the circulars and coupons to find the latest offerings from Child World. What games were on sale for Gameboy? Were there any new Thundercats or Real Ghostbusters figures released?

However, Toys “R” Us put out the annual Big Book of Toys every holiday season with pretty much everything the store had to offer, and was smart enough to send it in the mail – and for that reason, it gets the nod here.

EDGE: Toys “R” Us.

The Video Game Wars

Both stores had video game sections that were go-to destinations on any visit. However, Child World always seemed to have more playable systems and nobody that was trying to move you along.

I remember playing the Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers NES game at the Child World in Brockton, and beating the entire game in the store.

I also have a memory of first playing the Nintendo Virtual Boy at a Child World store, but I don’t think that can be accurate since Virtual Boy was released in 1995 and Child World was out of business by the fall of 1992.

EDGE: Child World.

Outdoor Toys

For some reason, I don’t think Child World had a large selection of large, outdoor yard toys. I remember buying kiddie pools at the Hanover Mall store when I was growing up in Plymouth, but it wasn’t exactly the place you went for a swing set.

No, that would be Toys “R” Us, most of which had swing sets set up in the front foyer or in a locked area outside the store. It was at the Toys “R” Us in Dedham that I remember getting a swing set when I was seven years old, which was especially cool because it had the trapeze bar on it.

EDGE: Toys “R” Us.

Pop Culture Credibility

Toys “R” Us is probably more ubiquitous in pop culture overall, but Child World had a couple of pretty cool references in some major motion pictures.

First, it was the toy store where Tom Cruise’s character worked in the Oscar-winning film The Color of Money.

Later, Child World was mentioned as the store where Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett purchased his beloved companion in the Ted movies.

EDGE: Child World.

So it may not be a truly mathematical formula, but it’s plain to see why Child World was the cooler toy chain.

In today’s day and age, however, I’d love to be able to walk into either one of them just one more time.

Child World 1993 by Anthony92931 / CC BY-SA 3.0 (No Changes Made)

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