Tag Archives: games

Finally – Female Army Soldier Toys!

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:

  1. Discuss the role of gender in toys with students. Have students list toys that are oriented to boys, and toys oriented to girls.
  2. What makes them different? Should there be different toys by gender?
  3. Show news video about the girl Army toys: https://youtu.be/i_eYnv_pCZs
  4. BMC blog post about the toys: https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. Have each team also develop a marketing program for the new toy.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, CNN, CBS Evening News, Fortune, and other news sources.

 

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Gender-neutral Dolls for Creating Your Own World

Barbie dolls have been around for 60 years and have mirrored many of the changes in culture and society. Barbie has been a politician, actress, musician, doctor, nurse, astronaut, and more. But there is a point where no matter how many changes Barbie goes through, she will always be seen as the iconic Barbie doll, and that doll does not reflect how many children view themselves and their world.

Today’s society increasingly is rejecting labels and embracing diversity. Mattel’s new line of dolls – the Creatable World doll – is still high-fashion, but the dolls reject labels and invite everyone to play. The dolls are designed as gender-neutral and can therefore be dressed and accessorized to adopt to many types of children – male, female, transgender, gender-fluid, and non-binary. In other words, the Creatable World dolls can be turned into virtually every different child’s gender and appearance.

The dolls look like a 7-year old child and have makeup-free, polished faces. There are various wigs, accessories, and clothing wardrobes. Dolls come with versatile pieces of clothing that give kids the freedom to make the characters whoever they want them to be. The dolls give kids a blank canvas with which they can create their own characters. Mattel uses the hashtag #AllWelcome to encourage a world where everyone is invited to play.

What are you waiting for? Let’s play!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  5. Show the video: https://youtu.be/-hGu4hPSNXI
  6. View the dolls at Mattel: https://www.mattel.com/en-us/creatable-world
  7. What other toys could use this approach?
  8. How should Mattel market the new dolls?

Sources: Lee, C. S. (26 September 2019). Mattel releases line of gender-neutral Creatable World Dolls. Advertising Age.

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Happy 60th Birthday, Barbie!

Happy 60th birthday to Barbie!

Launched at the New York Toy Fair at a price of $3.00 way back in 1959, today’s Barbie dolls have taken new shapes, sizes, colors, and careers into their stride. While Barbie has often been criticized, the original vision for Barbie – to encourage girls to think about their futures – still holds today. The doll’s original figure (tall, busty, Caucasian) is also still around, but it has also been broadened and diversified to fit today’s girls and society.

Today’s Barbie dolls include four different body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles, and an extensive wardrobe of clothes, accessories, houses, and cars. Barbie has had dozens of careers. She is not only a fashionista, she embraces careers such as actress, politicians, doctors, athletes,  artists, journalists, mountaineers, activists, astronauts, teachers, and more. There simply is no limit to what Barbie – and girls – can accomplish. Barbie is equally at home in a robotics lab as she is on a farm.

And now Barbie is also taking on gender gap in The Dream Gap Project. Beginning at age five, many girls develop limiting beliefs about themselves and what they can accomplish. By age seven, girls are more likely to think that boys are smarter than girls. Barbie is taking this on by showing role model dolls who illustrate what is possible.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the product life cycle.
  2. Where does Barbie fit in the life cycle?
  3. How does the toy remain relevant?
  4. Show video of Barbie history: https://youtu.be/DXFVaYTI3uQ
  5. Show Barbie Web site: https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/role-models.html?icid=home_body-2_module_role-models_p1
  6. Show the Dream Gap Project site: https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/dream-gap.html
  7. Divide students into team. What else can Mattel do with Barbie?

Source: Klara, R. (25 February 2019). Here’s how much Barbie has changed since her debut almost 60 years ago.

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