Girls Toys, Boys Toys, and Missing Rey

Imaginext Piles Men and WomenWhen B was pregnant with JSL, we decided to buy NHL a doll. We figured he could use it to get a sense of what it would be like to have a baby brother to take care of. There was just one problem: Try as we might, all we could find were baby girl dolls. We walked down every pink aisle in every store looking for a single baby boy doll.

The aisles were pink because pink is a girl’s color, only girl’s play with dolls, and the store didn’t want any boys wandering into the girl’s area. Of course, none of this is true. Boys can like pink as much as girls do. (There’s some evidence that, a century ago, pink was regarded as a boy’s color and not for girls.)

We eventually did find a single boy doll for NHL, but had the same problem years later when JSL wanted his own baby doll. After much searching (and many teary-eyed moments for JSL leaving stores empty handed), we finally found a doll dressed in neutral colors.

More recently, JSL has developed a love of Imaginext and Playskool. These small plastic action figures are perfect for small hands. He has many toys representing DC superheroes, Star Wars, and generic characters from Imaginext’s non-licensed line. Of these, he has three female DC superheroes (Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy), no female Star Wars characters, and 1 female generic character (a witch). This is out of 51 DC superheroes, 23 Star Wars figures, and 25 generic characters.

His mostly male lineup isn’t due to his picks of which toys to get, though. The only non-generic female figure he doesn’t have is Harley Quinn. There is no Supergirl, Zatanna, Batgirl, Killer Frost, Hawkgirl, Livewire, or Huntress (to name a few female heroes he’s seen on Justice League). On the Star Wars side, Leia is noticeably absent – appearing only in a Jabba’s palace set and then only in her "bounty hunter" disguise. In other words, Leia was only included in a form that hides that she’s not another male.

As an aside: While JSL helped me count his male vs. female generic toys, he had a very insightful question: "How do you know that this is a man and not a woman?"  He’s right.  There were some toys that could easily have been women.  Aliens, barely humanoid monsters, and some supernatural creatures could easily be meant to be women.  However, these creatures tend to resemble the male characters more than the female ones.  Besides, if the only way toy manufacturers can include women is by making them unrecognizable as women, then what’s the point of including them at all?

With Star Wars The Force Awakens out, Star Wars fans of any gender have a new strong female character. Without getting to spoilery, Rey shows time and again that she’s not some damsel in distress for the boys to rescue. She’s not some pretty little thing who sits on the sidelines while the "big, strong men" fight over her. She’s definitely not a prize that the hero wins by defeating the bad guy. She’s a full fledged person and more than capable of rescuing herself.

However, when kids leave the movie theaters and head to the toy stores, they’ll find a lack of merchandise representing Rey. Some toy companies claimed it was an effort to avoid spoilers. While that it a commendable pursuit (imagine a Darth Vader figure released for Empire Strikes Back that declared that he’s Luke’s father), staying spoiler-free didn’t need to mean staying Rey-free. All they needed to do was describe her at the beginning of the movie with, perhaps, a hint to her grander future. They managed to do this with the other characters, why not Rey?

Rey grew up a scavenger on the harsh desert world of Jakku. She’s a strong fighter, quick-thinking and great with machines. What grand destiny awaits her beyond the sands of Jakku?

There. A mostly non-spoilery description of Rey. Was that so hard?

Here’s hoping that toy manufacturers start waking up to the fact that boys don’t mind playing with toys representing women and girls like playing with toys representing men.  In addition, boys can play with toys deemed by the manufacturers to be "girl toys" just like girls can play with toys that have been declared to be "boy toys."  There is no reason to exclude one gender from using a toy.  Doing this only hurts boys and girls as well as, to be quite frank, toy manufacturers who are cutting out half of their potential sales.  The sooner the toy manufacturers get past their mistaken notions of toy-gender assignments, the sooner everyone wins.

Guardians of the Galaxy Videos and a Toy Request

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we took the boys to see Guardians of the Galaxy and loved it.  I wanted to also share a few Guardians of the Galaxy videos and one more thing that might be slightly spoiler-y.  (Don’t worry, I’ll warn before we get to that point.)

First, here is Chris Pratt (aka Peter Quill) giving a tour of the Milano spacecraft.

Next up is an interview with Zoe Saldana who plays Gamora.

Then, there is an interview with Chris Pratt.

Finally, there’s something slightly spoiler-y ahead.  If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy, stop reading now, bookmark this page, go to the theatre and see the movie.  When you’re done, come back.


Ok, everyone seen the movie, now?  Good.


In one of the credits scenes, a potted, re-growing Groot dances to music while Drax cleans his knives.  This "baby Groot" was so incredibly cute that I instantly wanted one.  Since I know I can’t have an actual Groot, I’d settle for one of those dancing flower toys reworked to look like Groot.  I’m not the only one who wants one.  Social media is ablaze with people asking Marvel to release this.  Slashgear even has an article stoking the rumor flames by pointing out a non-confirmation statement about the toy (along with a photo of a rather clever hack).  I expect that, if they do, it will disappear from the shelves quickly.

Three Geeky Toys I Love And One I Don’t

Part of the fun of being a geek is seeing the various toys that tap into your interests.  Recently, I saw a few toys that tapped into my inner geek.

First, was a Lego set.  I’ve seen sets like these before.  You get the pieces and instructions to build three different items with the same bricks.  In this case, you can build a hawk, then turn it into a beaver, and then turn it into a scorpion.  The geek in me loves the idea of building so many things and the frugal shopper in me sees a 3-in-1 set as a bargain.


Next up was a pair of Doctor Who items.  A 50th Anniversary game of Doctor Who and a set of Doctor figurines.  The latter came in a "TARDIS" box with information on each doctor and with one figure for each doctor.

monopoly the-doctors

Lastly, there was one toy I didn’t want.  I love superheroes, but this toy just struck me as wrong.


Superman on a plane?  Superman can fly.  Why would he need a plane?  This is almost as bad as the Superman Motorcycle that I saw recently as well.  ("I could fly to the crime in progress faster than a speeding bullet, but I think I’ll take my motorcycle instead and drive there at 45mph!")  This just strikes me as falling into the "needlessly commercialized toy" category and not the "cool geek toy" category.

Batman Party

My boys love superheroes of all kinds.  So when a big box arrived, thanks to MomSelect and Mattel, they were excited to find tons of Batman goodies inside.


Before throwing a party with the gear, I let the boys each pick out a few items that they liked the best.  JSL chose a Power Attack Deluxe Turbo Punch Batman figure.  This Batman has a battering ram-like weapon that attaches to his arm.  When you squeeze his legs, Batman’s torso swivels and it hits its target.  (Speaking of targets, it comes with a cardboard Joker target to knock down.)  JSL also selected a Power Attack Robin with a shield.  NHL chose a Power Attack Killer Croc and Power Attack Deluxe Mallet Smasher Joker.  As the name implies, this Joker holds a mallet high above his head and smashes it down (perhaps at the included cardboard Batman target) when you squeeze his legs.


Also included was a Batmobile car that could hold one of the non-deluxe figures (such as Robin) and fire various missiles.


As soon as I opened the toys for them, they would disappear from my hands and rapidly enter playtime. The boys had a blast putting together scenarios where Batman and Robin were facing down Killer Croc and the Joker.  Robin would often enter the Batmobile and fire missiles at the villains.


Given that it was close to Thanksgiving, we had our party in two parts.  First, we met Becca Marsh and her family for a quick dinner out.  Becca has three boys and a girl.  I made sure to include a Batman toy for her daughter as well.  After all, Batman is not just for boys.

The kids had fun talking and playing in the restaurant together (and the adults had a good time talking to other adults).  They all loved the Batman toys and were excited when I laid them out on the table for them to choose their favorites.

For the second part of the party, we took advantage of some family coming into town post-Thanksgiving.  Uncle I, Aunt M, and Cousins S & B were staying at Nana and Papa’s house so we went over one morning with a ton of Batman goodies.  This time, since the kids would have more room to play, I had my boys bring the Batman toys they picked out initially.


Cousin S and Cousin B were excited about their toys and played Batman with the boys for awhile.  On one floor, there were both boys and girls aged from 2 to 9 years old, all enjoying Batman.  (Up to age 37 if you count me playing along when I wasn’t taking photos.)  Proof that Batman’s appeal spans a wide range of ages.

Disclaimer: I received a selection of Batman toys, gift bags, a Batman Brave and the Bold DVD, and various party supplies from MomSelect and Mattel to facilitate my Batman Party.  The opinions expressed above, however, are my own.

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