Asian Babies on the Cheap

Today while we were window shopping at Toys R Us, I got really excited when I saw a set of Asian triplet baby dolls. In our neck of the woods, it’s hard to find a good Asian baby doll at most stores because we don’t have a large Asian demographic. There are a lot of generic “could be Asian, could be Hispanic, could be Mediterranean, who knows for sure!” dolls available, but not a lot of dolls that are blatantly Asian.

The dolls were pretty awesome, but then I noticed something odd. There was one other package of triplet dolls there that wasn’t Asian. This one contained African American triplets. At least, they were labeled as African American. The dolls could pass as dark-skinned Caucasians, but their price description labeled them as “Interactive Triplets AA”. I assume the “AA” stands for African American considering that is the race of the girl playing with them in the picture on the box. I also can assume the “AA” means African American because the Asian dolls were labeled as “Asian” on their price stickers, though the dinky pictures from my stupidphone’s camera make this hard to see.

Do you notice what was off here?

Take a closer look at the price.

The Asian baby dolls were $26.98.

The “AA” dolls were $39.99.

And they were displayed right next to each other in some sort of race pricing war.

I stood there for a long time staring and trying to figure out how the two sets of dolls might be different aside from their races, but nothing was different. The top dolls were “AA” and the bottom dolls were Asian. The Asian dolls were $13 cheaper than the African American dolls of the exact same make. The way it was set up read “Asians for sale! Cheap!” It really weirded me out.

In all honesty, I don’t think there was any intentional racism here. There were several boxes of Asian babies, only one box of African American babies and NO boxes of Caucasian babies. This leads me to believe this was a supply and demand problem. They received too many Asian triplet dolls and needed to get rid of them quick quick quick… which supports my previous post about the complete absence of Mulan baby dolls at almost all of our local toy stores (she’s at the Disney store, but they have everyone there). With low Asian demographics, stores don’t bother selling many Asian babies and when they do get some Asian inventory they have to slash the price to get the dolls out of the store because they don’t sell well. There were no Mulan, Jasmine or Pocahontas dolls of any type at this store and very few (if any) other Asian babies.

Regardless of the oversupply, I think the price cut should have waited perhaps until the other dolls sold out or the prices should not have been put side by side. It just looks bad even if that wasn’t the store’s intention. The way it’s set up right now says “Asian baby dolls just aren’t as valuable as dolls of other races!” and that just sits badly with me regardless of the true purpose of the price cut.

That said, if one race of doll is going to be deeply discounted, I suppose I’m happy that my wallet would be benefiting from it if we were actually in the market for MOAR TOYS two weeks after Christmas.

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2 Responses to Asian Babies on the Cheap

  1. As someone who isn’t Asian American or mother to adorable Jewrean girls, I would never tell you not to be offended by this. However, I do think you make a very good point about demographics in your area. I bet if you popped into a Toys R Us on the West Coast or another part of the country where the Asian American population is much higher than Ohio, it would be a totally different ball game. I hope, anyway.

    Incidentally, can this mom to a boy submit a question? My 2-year-old has shown an interest in caring for a doll, and he’s going through a phase where he’s super interested in babies. While I don’t want to discourage this nurturing behavior since most of his other interests are hyper masculine, I’m having trouble finding a doll that isn’t super duper creepy (I have a weird doll phobia). These dolls are much less creepy than the ones I’ve seen, but even $25 seems a little pricey for a toy that I’m not even sure he’ll be interested in for long. Can you recommend a brand or store where I might find simple, non-creepster dolls?

    • There are definitely a lot more Asian dolls in the western suburbs of St. Louis, which is 6-7% Asian compared to 1% here. I certainly hope this is true across the country for areas with larger Asian populations. That said, there’s a surprising lack of African American dolls around here compared to what we had at the Hobart TRU growing up. I’m very curious about that because the African American population is similar if not larger here. Then again, maybe I’m shopping at the wrong TRU. Maybe the one closer to downtown Toledo has a larger selection.

      From what I can tell on the TRU website, most of the You & Me line these dolls came from are pretty non-creepy looking. http://www.toysrus.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3554228&pg=2 That said, the actual triplet dolls WERE creepy because they were motion activated to talk and wiggle around. To me, that’s the creepiest part of having dolls around. They all talk and move when you least expect it.

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