It may have been a while since we played “Army,” but most of us can recall the little green plastic army men that we used to declare war on our siblings and friends! Those little toy men offered hours of inexpensive play and imagination. But, note the key word here: “men.” Where are the female soldier figures? After all, women have been in military service and combat for decades. Why haven’t the figures changed to reflect the new military? Good question.
After a fruitless search looking for female soldier figures, a six-year old girl in Little Rock, Ark., decided to write letters to toy companies asking for female soldiers. One company, BMC Toys based in Scranton, Penn., replied to her about the request. The company had been considering offering female figures, even going so far as sketching the female soldier figures in classic Army poses. The letter finally made the decision for the company and the new toys will be released in 2020. The feedback has already been overwhelmingly positive and preorders are being requested. BMC plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help promote the toy and gain funding.
Let’s play Army!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the role of gender in toys with students. Have students list toys that are oriented to boys, and toys oriented to girls.
- What makes them different? Should there be different toys by gender?
- Show news video about the girl Army toys: https://youtu.be/i_eYnv_pCZs
- BMC blog post about the toys: https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project
- Have students search for female soldier toys on Amazon. What did they find? (What they will find are ‘pink colored’ soldiers, but still in male forms.)
- Next, divide students into teams. Have each team choose one of the male or female toys and develop a new product that would appeal to both genders.
- Have each team also develop a marketing program for the new toy.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, CNN, CBS Evening News, Fortune, and other news sources.