A piece in today’s Times:
A toy manufacturer is developing its first female model soldiers after an outcry initiated by a six-year-old girl.
Vivian Lord wrote to toy companies urging them to make “army girls that look like women” rather than simply producing pink versions of the traditional male plastic soldiers.
Soldiers do not wear pink, she said, but there are plenty of servicewomen who wear regular military clothing.
“Why do you not make girl army men, my friend’s mom is in the army too!!,” she wrote. “So why don’t you make them too!!!!! I would play with them every day and my friends would!”
Vivian, of Little Rock, Arkansas, came by her soldiers on a summer holiday trip and noticed that they were all men. “I wondered why,” she told The New York Times.
Her mother, Brittany Lord, suggested that Vivian complain to the toy companies and a copy of her letter reached Jeff Imel, the owner of BMC Toys in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which sells 80 toy soldier products.
He had been thinking about making female troops for years but had been put off by the cost. Although he was sympathetic to the idea, he sent a non-committal reply to Vivian.
Then news organisations got hold of her letter and called him.
“All hell broke loose with the media,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath since.”
He realised that he had made a “huge mistake” in not taking complaints about the lack of female soldiers seriously, and last month displayed his first prototype at a toy show in Chicago.
Soon customers will be able to order female toy soldiers in five positions: standing with handgun and binoculars; standing shooting a rifle; kneeling shooting a rifle; kneeling shooting a bazooka; and lying on the ground with a rifle. By next October he plans to have full packs of female soldiers for sale.
Vivian was all fired up when she heard the news. “When I grow up, I might give some to my kids, too,” she said.
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