Tag Archives: toy industry rant

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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Toy Industry Rant: What were they thinking?

Recently we were at the mall when my husband saw this monstrosity (which is also sort of a “Toy Story 3″ Spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet):

It’s called Toy Story Trash Compactor Escape. It’s the Lego version of the trash compactor and incinerator scene from the end of “Toy Story 3″. You know, the scene where the toys face their own mortality, try to escape from death, but ultimately decide to face their deaths with dignity? (I really really thought they might die for real).

Here’s another shot of it. If you can’t tell from the pictures, it includes the pit of fire the toys tumbled toward helplessly after Lotso tricked them into their almost certain death.

Who decided that the most emotional and disturbing scene I’ve ever seen in a children’s movie should be a toy? It’s a scene about death and here is a toy where kids get to play that their toys are about to be burned to bits. How is this a healthy thing to play?

Anyway, that was the biggest WTF toy I’ve ever seen. Actually, I give credit to my husband who pulled me over and said “You have to see this. This belongs on your blog!”

It does indeed.

What’s further bizarre about this toy is that all the reviews of it on multiple sites are positive! Not one person questioned the wrongness of having their kids rebuild and reenact the upsetting near-death scene in “Toy Story 3″. Maybe my kids are just too young for me to understand why this is a good toy for older kids but I seriously don’t get it. There’s nothing fun or funny in reenacting the scene in which the toys stop struggling and quietly take each other’s hands to face what seems to be the end.

What’s even more amazing is that this toy cost $60 at the Borders where we saw it. People are paying upwards of $60 to help their children reenact the near-death scene.

I just can’t wrap my mind around that.

I wonder what other bizarre toy scenarios Lego has available. A big Google search is in my near future.

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Watch Out on Those Dollhouse Purchases

I’ve written before about how Boots doesn’t come with the Dora Magical Welcome House and the trauma this caused to my then 2-year-old. Another mom, Katie, has sent in pictures of an advertisement for the Dora Windows Surprise Dollhouse.

Looks like it comes with a bunch of stuff, right? I mean, you’d think a plastic dollhouse would come with a couple of accessories. Well, be careful. As I learned with our Dora’s Magical Welcome dollhouse, they aren’t even thoughtful enough to include Boots in the dollhouse– only Dora. Check out this product description from Amazon:

“Included are a Dora figure and a couch but you can add on and decorate your dollhouse with additional figures, furniture and accessories (each sold separately).”

So, you get a couch and a Dora. Woo hoo! Fun times playing with Dora talking to herself and sitting on a couch only.

Take a look at the Boots accessory pack you can buy separately:

A couple of things bother me about this. A) Why does Boots always come with Isa instead of Dora? Boots and Isa very rarely talk and they certainly don’t go together more than Boots goes with Dora. If anything, Isa and Tico should be sold together, not Boots and Isa. B) Why the hell is Boots wearing a raincoat?!

I am again insulted for Boots.

But I really wrote this to remind you as you do your holiday shopping to read the labels carefully. I know on our Magical Welcome Dollhouse the packaging was designed to make it look like it included all the characters and a bunch of furniture. It didn’t. From what I can tell from these pictures, the packaging for the Windows Surprise house is similarly misleading.

In short, good luck out there! I hope when your kids open their toys this holiday season, there are no meltdowns resulting in a week-long search for the figurine of a secondary tv character.

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Toy Industry Rant: Unacceptable Boots Toy

I’ve written before about the unfair Boots/Dora toy ratio in most toy stores and Dora paraphernalia. Since I posted that, I’ve been especially sure to look over the Dora section at the toy store to make sure Boots is underrepresented. He always is. Often he’s not there at all. Then, the other day I discovered this monstrosity.

This is Baby Boots Sitter Dora the Explorer. Dora is Baby Boots baby sitter. What the heck is that all about?

I know I’m reading too much into this, but seriously? No. This is completely and utterly wrong. Boots is the same age as Dora. He is not a baby. He should not be baby-worn by Dora. He is her equal. They are friends. Turning Boots into a baby is degrading to Boots!

Boots should be swinging from trees and singing about adventures. He should not be riding around strapped to Dora’s chest while sucking on a bottle.

This toy is an insult to Boots Monkey! I rather not have Boots on the toy shelf at all than to have this monstrosity smiling down on me. Since when is Dora big enough to be baby-sitting anyway? If there has to be a Baby Boots product, he should be marketed with a Baby Dora product (such a product probably already exists, but I’m just saying).

I know. It’s fun. It’s make-believe. But it’s make-believe in a way that’s… monkey-ist. If there’s a Baby Boots strapped to Dora’s chest, there should be a Dora strapped to Boots’ chest. Why does Boots have to play the baby? It would be one thing if there had been a ton of other Boots products in the store, but this was the only Boots toy there. How unfair and inaccurate to Dora’s co-explorer!

Boots Monkey, I support you in what I’m sure is your outrage over this travesty of a toy! (If only the fictional cartoon show Boots could answer me, right?)

Next time I see a Boots toy in the store, he better be doing something equal to Dora and not just her pawn in some baby-sitting role playing game (which sounds a little perverted, no?). Boots is no sidekick. He’s a co-star and he deserves to be treated with respect!*

*Boots Monkey endorses this statement. He was running for political office, but sadly lost the election Tuesday.

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Why are all the “Toy Story” toys marketed for boys?

My daughter loves “Toy Story”, and I know she’s not the only girl who feels that way. Yet, whenever we see a “Toy Story” product, such as diapers, underwear, pajamas or other clothing, it is in the boy’s section and my daughter is disappointed. It’s not pretty or it doesn’t fit and we can’t bring it home.

After years of princess movies, it’s great that boys can relate to the “Toy Story” movies, but I think the merchandise available misses a big market by gearing its products toward just boys. “Toy Story” is a uni-sex movie. Its products should follow suit. If there are “Toy Story” diapers, pjs and underwear for boys, there should be some for girls as well. If there is a silly concern about having male characters on the girls’ underwear (is that why Boots Monkey is usually missing?), Cowgirl Jessie and Mrs. Potato Head could do the job.

There is a general lack of Cowgirl Jessie merchandise, aside from the figurines. She generally does not appear on comforters, clothing or posters despite being a main character in the latter two “Toy Story” movies. The merchandise embraces the male characters of Buzz and Woody, but neglects the female lead. Little girls who want Cowgirl Jessie to decorate their rooms are left either empty-handed or with a Buzz and Woody decor.

It’s not as though Disney/Pixar isn’t selling enough “Toy Story” merchandise through the tactics they currently use. Lord knows we are overrun with “Toy Story” toys and stickers at our house. But had we found girl-friendly “Toy Story” clothes, we would have bought a lot more. Despite my daughter’s love of pink around here, she has no interest in the Disney princess clothing, which seems to be the only thing available to her if she wants to wear a Disney movie character. She would kill for some “Toy Story” underwear, but alas she does not have the correct equipment to pull off boys briefs.

I know there is some irony in my complaining that a uni-sex movie doesn’t have feminine merchandise available, and I’m well aware that my daughter could ignore stereotypes and wear clothes designed for boys but… come on! There should be “Toy Story” merchandise for both sexes without having to cross the store to shop in the department of the opposite sex.

I would also argue that maybe Disney should find a way to macho up its princess wear so little boys in love with Cinderella could enjoy wearing her without being ridiculed… but with our current societal views on what is masculine and feminine I’m not sure how that is possible. Maybe someday?

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Toy Industry Rant: Where is Boots Monkey?!

My daughter Lily has an obsession with “Dora the Explorer”, or, as she liked to call it when she was newly two, “Boots Dora”. Note that Boots’s name came before Dora’s. There was a reason and purpose to that. Lily thinks Boots Monkey is THE star of “Dora the Explorer”.

If you watch the show from her perspective, she is not incorrect. Boots is as integral to nearly every plot as Dora is. He does practically everything with her. He is almost never off the screen. I think he is supposed to be considered a sidekick, but I think to a lot of kids he seems more like a co-star. Backpack and Map, now those are some sidekicks. They help get the job done, but they don’t have as many lines or as much screen time as Dora. Boots is on the screen so much, his name should probably be in the title with Dora’s– “Dora and Boots the Explorers”. It doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it, but it’s more true to the show.

Despite Boots’s prominence in the show, there’s a ridiculous lack of Boots merchandise in most toy stores. When you get to the Dora section, there are usually plenty of Dora dolls in a wide-variety of sizes, but you are lucky to find even a 1-inch Boots action figure for the Magical Welcome Dollhouse. In fact, Dora’s Magical Welcome Dollhouse doesn’t even come with Boots. It only comes with Dora! What kind of madness is that?!

It’s really hard to find any Boots merchandise, which really gets to be a problem when your daughter thinks the show is actually titled “Boots Dora”. Boots appears on very few pieces of clothing. In fact, last year my daughter was so particular about her “Boots Dora” apparel that if someone got her a Dora shirt without Boots on it, she’d refuse to wear it.

When my daughter was wearing pull-ups, the industry’s apparent lack of concern over the appearance of Boots caused some major issues at our house. Boots was on the back of about half of the Pampers Easy-Ups. If Boots wasn’t on the back of her diaper, my daughter REFUSED to put it on. She refused to wear other brands as well. She is very picky about what she puts on her butt, apparently. So I ended up drawing Boots Monkey on the back of hundreds of Easy-Ups. Whenever we’d buy a new case of Easy-Ups, I knew I had a major art project ahead of me. I literally spent hours making sure there was always a Boots on her butt.

I got so irrate over this that I actually wrote an angry email to Pampers begging them to get more consistent about whether Boots is on the back of the Easy-Up or not. There was no good reason for him not to be on every single diaper! I got back an email that I would have to get my “idea” copyrighted for them to consider a “design change”. I was livid. It wasn’t a design change! I wasn’t looking for money! It was a simple request to just put the damn monkey on the back of every diaper so I could stop drawing! Surely my kid isn’t the only one who wants to see him there?

Apparently she wasn’t because Boots now seems to be on the back of each diaper. Go figure. No copyright or anything. (Maybe I should have gotten that copyright? Money? But I wanted the same design, just on every diaper instead of just half of them?)

I don’t think I’m insane to want to see more Boots products in the stores. I think most kids would love to have a 12-inch Boots Monkey to play with their 12-inch Dora. What fun is a Dora doll without a Boots Monkey?

It makes me wonder if the toy and clothing industry representatives who design and distribute Dora merchandise have ever actually watched the show. I think watching the show is an important part of doing your job as a person who designs and sells Dora products. If they actually watched the show, we’d have access to far more Boots products as well as plenty of things for Boots and Dora’s multitude of sidekicks. We would love to see more Benny the Bull products in this house!

So, toy/clothing/diaper industry people, if you are listening, just remember, Boots is not a sidekick. He’s a very important main character for most of the “Boots Dora” viewing audience. Give us more Boots stuff!

And you had better leave Boots on the back of every diaper or I have a Sharpie pen with your name on it. I’m out of the diaper drawing business! (Please start putting him on underwear too.)

Tell me I’m not alone in this outrage that is the lack of Boots Monkey merchandise! Maybe we should start a petition? Just kidding. Sort of.

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