Tag Archives: toys

A Modern Potato Head Family

When is the last time you played with Mr. Potato Head toys? Well, it is still around but Hasbro is officially renaming the toy line “Potato Head” without the Mr. and Mrs. labels. The intent of the rebranding is to allow kids to show the many different faces of family, gender, and inclusion – and of course all in its beloved potato format!

Hasbro is not actually getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, who along with Mrs. Potato Head will retain their honorary family titles. However, the company will repackage the toys into a “Create Your Potato Head Family” set with two large and one small potato bodies, along with 42 different accessories in new colors and more inclusive messaging. The change is viewed as part of a larger movement towards greater diversity and inclusion for children and families.

Hasbro is far from alone in revising its toy lines. In 2019, Mattel launched customizable, gender-neutral dolls called “Creatable World” to allow kids to create their own characters. Mattel also has new more diverse Barbie dolls as well, reflecting the changes in society and women’s roles. And, American Girl dolls now has an American Boy to round out its collection.

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. Show the Potato Head site and video: https://corporate.hasbro.com/en-us/articles/create_your_potato_head_family_launching_this_fall
  5. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  6. Show American Girl dolls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/c/boy-dolls
  7. Show Barbie dolls: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/barbie-dolls
  8. What other toys could use this approach?

Sources: AdWeek; New York Times; other news sources

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Celebrating Everyday Heroes

We tend to think of heroes as extraordinary people who can fly through the skies, leap tall buildings, and vanquish evil doers. That is still true. However, given the difficult times today dealing with the coronavirus, we can see heroes wherever we look – people who risk their lives in the service of others during this global pandemic. The ordinary things that we once took for granted now deserve extra respect and thanks; to the health care providers who risk infection, to the delivery truck drivers, and grocery store employees who interact with us every day to make sure we have the food and supplies we need.

To honor these everyday heroes who support us, Mattel and Fisher-Price have launched a special edition collection of 16 action figures that commemorate doctors, nurses, EMTs, delivery drivers, and  a five-figure Little People Community Champions set that also include grocery workers. These are our neighbors and friends who keep our communities up and running. The action figures are part of a campaign named #ThankYouHeroes and the proceeds go to #FirstRepondersFirst initiative created to support first responders.

Mattel is also producing face shields and masks, plus has donated toys to nonprofit partners around the world, and launched the ‘Mattel Playroom’ as an online resource for caregivers to help keep children entertained at home.

Celebrate the heroes in your life.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the various ways in companies can take actions to improve their social responsibility in the pandemic.
  2. Show a video of the new product line: https://youtu.be/kC9NnIRRUjQ
  3. View Mattel’s Website: https://www.mattel.com/en-us/playroom-thankyouheroes?icid=plp_body-1_aspot_thank-you-heroes_p1
  4. Divide students into teams. Have students search the Internet for examples of how companies are responding to virus and helping to prevent illness and protect workers.
  5. What additional ideas do students have for companies to help communities?

Source: Ad Week; CBS News; CNN; additional news sources

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Stressed? Try Legos!

Feeling stressed? Kids and adults need to be able to relax and play. One toy company ready to accommodate adults is a long-time favorite around the globe – Lego!

Lest we think that Legos are only for young kids, the company has set its sights on the adult market, promoting the colorful blocks as a way to escape stress and achieve a level of calm. Lego has new, more complicated and expensive kits that are targeted at Gen X members. New kits include the Central Perk café from “Friends,” a vintage Batmobile, Star Wars Millennium Falcon, Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle and many more. Lego has also revised instruction manuals to make kits foolproof and introduced new models that have soothing movements.

Adult Lego fans also have their own Facebook and Reddit groups, along with the acronym AFOLS (adult fans of Legos). Plus, in a master stroke of branding, Legos now has a prime-time TV show featuring teams competing to build Lego masterpieces. There are even books that focus on the joy of playing with Legos.

Ready to relax?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review Lego. Company Web site: https://www.lego.com/en-us
  2. Search the site for adult Lego sets, prices are $100+: https://www.lego.com/en-us/categories/price-over-100-dollars
  3. View Lego Masters TV show: https://www.fox.com/lego-masters/
  4. Discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
  5. Ask students what data they would want in order to make a marketing decision for Lego products.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team do general research to answer the questions above. (Ex: overview of industry, size, growth, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.)
  7. Debrief the exercise by compiling information. Does this give a good picture of the situation faced by Lego?

Source: Washington Post; other news sources

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