I've been making numerous trips to the toy store in search of gifts for the kids friends - birthday parties and such, and I have been depressed by the lack of interesting board games and toys.
In terms of board games, it is hard to find anything new at all that has new and successful since I was a kid. I still see Risk, Monopoly, and the Game of Life and the 'newer' stuff seems to be variations of the older games - Horseopoly, Dogopoly, Catopoly. Card games are all variations of some kind of gin rummy and other games are offshoots of dominoes or dice-throwing. In some ways it attests to the fact that these games are long-lived and hence a sign of success. In other ways it shows lack of imagination and innovation.
When I was a kid, a game we enjoyed was Mastermind which I did get but was extremely disappointed in the quality. The pegs didn't really fit and everything felt really cheap and plasticky - even though it was a fun game once, the cheapness of how it was made really took away all the pleasure.
And the poor quality isn't only reflected in toys. I recently bought a HP computer and was extremely disappointed in its cheap plastic casings and rickety feeling keyboard. Even though it has a fairly fast dual processor it was much louder than I expected. The last computer I bought was a Dell which was almost 6 years ago which was just as poor a quality and for that reason I avoided Dell altogether. I'll have to add HP to the list. While, it is true that computers have seen innovations, its design, appeal, and look-and-feel have stagnated and may have even taken a dive.
In many ways, I wonder if Tyler Cowen has understated the stagnation in our lives.