This article addresses the toy as a neglected cultural and technical object. The toy is neither tool nor ritual object, and its animation in children's imaginative play suggests alternative perspectives on the history and lived experience of material and technological artifacts. The concept of protopolitics is advanced to explore the implications for the cultural politics of the ambiguous articulation of power relationships in play. The article takes the long history of the toy animal as a case study, drawing attention to its creaturely, artificial facets that go beyond, or more accurately precede, familiar cultural-political binaries of authentic and inauthentic, depth and surface, knowledge and illusion, truth and lies, belief and fetishism, human and nonhuman, natural and synthetic. These other facets include dynamics of the technics of imagination, and their ambivalent articulation of relationships of control, training, care, violence, and love—a protopolitics evident in imaginative play. And, in postnatural media culture, the toy animal has migrated to digital habitats, offering an alternative animal perspective on questions of artificial intelligence. The child's toy and media environment is playfully zoomorphic, populated with artificial animals, from toys and stories to virtual pets and video-game characters, a new simulacral and postnatural trajectory in the descendance of the artificial animal and its playful and play-like behaviors.

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