Earlier today, I took my girls to McDonald's for a "sometimes treat" - a Happy Meal, but only because it's St. Patrick's Day and I promised them their once-a-year Shamrock Shakes if they'd been good. I was surprised when the guy asked me if I wanted "a boy toy or a girl toy," because I thought I'd read that McDonald's was ending that practice ages ago. With no sign on the board indicating what the choices were, I stopped him and asked what the options were. He specifically stated, "for the boys it's Hot Wheels, and the girls is Barbie." Ok, so the Mattel promotion is back, but I have two girls that love both of those things. I deferred to the back seat for an answer, and with no surprise, Adalyn said "Barbie," while her little sister Finley answered "Hot Wheels." You'd think by now all the gender discussion with toys would be a non-issue, but it's not - and while I've often spoken of letting my girls play with whatever they want regardless of what "aisle" it comes from, I've heard that for parents of boys (an experience I will never know), there's issues even more challenging. Bottom line: the b.s. double-standard that some adults still push - cool for girls to play with cars and action figures/not cool for boys to play dolls and kitchen. WRONG. Kids can, and should be able to play with whatever toy they desire, but still, one mom is making strides toward making dolls "inspired by boys but truly meant for any child" under the name WONDER CREW - and it's because she has to. While the initial hook is "dolls for boys" (a phrase that does lead the press release), these really are dolls for everyone...
It's interesting how much a week can change things. For me it's taken a generally positive opinion about a company that I've casually respected in recent months, turned it into a feeling of disappointment, and in the end, made me come to despise said company. I'm talking about toy maker GoldieBlox and their possibly orchestrated fiasco with The Beastie Boys over a viral commercial. When I first heard that they'd borrowed some Beastie Boys music without asking, and then preemptively filed a for a declaratory judgement against the living members of the group, like many, I blogged about it. The "facts" were few, the opinions were many, and all sides took their time with properly addressing anything. What we now know is that GoldieBlox seemed to have had every intention of using (whether it's "parody," "satire," "transformative," "fair use," "infringing" or whatever) the Beastie Boys' 1986 song "Girls" without any regard for the group's opinion on the matter. Their release today of a "Letter to the Beastie Boys" coupled with the removal of the offending video only solidifies that in my mind, despite their carefully-crafted, likely attorney-urged attempt at trying to save face. Whatever they spent on legal fees and the video itself, the publicity they've gained has been priceless. Everyone (myself included) is talking about GoldieBlox, and really, it's at the Beastie Boys' expense. Speaking as someone whose been "borrowed from" in the past without being asked first, that's not cool.
A little more than a month ago, I blogged about the 60th Anniversary of MATCHBOX, and the fantastic promotional campaign that Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT) put together to celebrate the occasion. One big element of the anniversary is the MATCHBOX Heroes Wanted promotion, a sweepstakes with weekly prizes that will be capped-off with a $60,000 College Scholarship to be awarded to one winner. As noted in my initial post, I entered my car-obsessed daughter, Adalyn in the contest... and now she's become one of the weekly winners - an official "MATCHBOX Hero-in-training!"
Times may change, but over the past sixty years, one constant has been the presence of MATCHBOX cars and toys, both on store shelves (and pegs), and in the homes of families everywhere. While the line has seen some ups-and-downs since it's launch in 1953, six decades of MATCHBOX memories have been created for parents and kids alike.
As countless conflicts continue to rage around the Globe, there's always a few that seem to get swept under the mental rug and forgotten about. We often think of the mess in the Middle East, with those "name-brand" clashes like the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the War in Afghanistan, etc., but often forget about those other places like Burma and the Congo until a new RAMBO movie comes out to remind us (thanks, Sly!). As blood continues to be shed elsewhere, here in the 'States rages a war that has been spoken about in the media for years, debated in blogs, and has recently flared up once more... those against "The Princess Industrial Complex" Vs. pretty much everyone else.
I have been working on this blog entry since November 25. Over the past few weeks, I've gone back and forth on it, updating, adding new information, and finally setting it free...
I really wish that we could all just let our kids be kids and play with whatever toy they'd like without having to think of things in greater social terms. While our daughters are welcome to explore whatever piques their interests, the simple fact is that there is no "right and wrong" when it comes to play. Last month, I wrote a piece for New York's Time to Play Magazine about my daughter's love of toy cars (read it here), touching on the issue of gender neutrality a bit, but also saying that it's ok to play with whatever she'd like. If she wants to race around with her Hot Wheels today, then dress up in full Princess garb tonight, it's cool.