Category Archives: Toys

Easy Bake Oven

Standard

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and I was in a Wal-Mart in the metro area of a large city in the Southwest. I was in a hurry. I’d grabbed what I needed and was booking it to the check out counter to pay for my purchases and get the hell out of there.

On the outskirts of the toy department, I saw an endcap stacked with boxes of Easy Bake Ovens.

I always wanted one of those and never got one, I thought idly.

Then I saw a young boy pictured on the box.

That’s nice, I thought. Hasbro is showing that boys like to bake too. Inclusivity is a wonderful thing…

Then I thought, WAIT! WHAT? as I realized the boy was dominating the use of the Easy Bake Oven.

Ever hear about those studies of toy advertisements that show boys are depicted as being more active while girls are depicted as passive? Thought that kind of thing went out of fashion in the 70s or maybe the 80s at the latest? Uh, no. We’re living in the second decade of the 21st century, and I’m showing you a real world example of sexism aimed right at kids.

So yeah, the boy is taking the active role in the baking game while the girls look on in admiration and wonder. Wow! the girl in the middle seems to be thinking, He sure can slide in that cookie sheet! (Gag! I hadn’t even thought of the sexual undertones of having the boy slide something long and thin into a small opening until I started ranting here. How could that seem like a good idea to the Hasbro’s marketing people?)

The girl in the purple shirt seems to be adoring his baking prowess.

In an article called “Care Bears vs. Transformers: Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements” (http://www.sociology.org/care-bears-vs-transformers-gender-stereotypes-in-advertisements/), references a study by B.A. Browne published in the Journal of Advertising in 1998 [Browne, B.A. (1998), “Gender stereotypes in advertising on children’s television in the 1990s: a cross-national analysis”.  Journal of Advertising, 27 (1), 83-97.] The study

provides further evidence of the substantial gender stereotyping that is found in advertisements.  According to Browne,

Boys appeared in greater numbers, assumed more dominant roles, and were more active and aggressive than girls. (p. 12)  In commercials containing both boys and girls, boys were significantly more likely to demonstrate and/or explain the product even when the product used was not sex-typed.

So um, yeah, Hasbro, sociologists already know this kind of gender stereotyping is a problem. You too should know it’s a problem and YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT!

While I’m ranting, can I point out just how white that group of kids looks? I know we can’t determine everything there is to know about a person’s ethnic and cultural heritage by the tone of her or his skin (and maybe the girl in the purple shirt is Latinx), but some diversity in skin tone could have gone a long way here.

What can parents do to combat this sexism and racism? Contact Hasbro and call them out on it. Send them links to this blog if you like. More importantly, talk to your kids–your girls AND your boys about this kind of gender stereotyping and racism. Point it out and have a discussion when only white kids are pictured playing with a certain toy. Tell your girls they don’t have to look at a boy with adoration simply because he knows his way around the kitchen, and tell your boys not to expect a girl to think they’re the greatest things since sliced bread just because they can put cookies in an oven.

In my ideal world, all people will take turns baking for each other because baking is fun and a cupcake is a lovely gift.

I took the photo in this post.

 

Poo Dough

Standard

During the Christmas season (and its immediate aftermath), I was staying in a small Southwestern town, sleeping in my van. Some nights I would park on quiet residential streets, and some nights I would park at Wal-Mart. On the Wal-Mart nights, when I went inside to use the facilities, I often wandered around the store. It was dark by 6pm, which was much too early to go to sleep, so I had some time to kill in the aisles of the world’s largest retailer (https://nrf.com/2015/top100-table).

I’m often shocked by the Wal-Mart toy department. Not only is it still very much segregated by gender (toys in drab colors for boys over here, pink and garish toys for girls over there), but there’s an over-fascination with elimination.

Barbie Forever Barbie Doll with Tanner the Dog
Barbie has a dog that shits. Well, I guess Barbie’s shitting dog has been recalled. (You can read a really funny essay about that here: https://techliberation.com/2007/08/15/oh-sht-barbies-pooping-dog-is-a-killer/.) But I saw the shitting dog in Wal-Mart’s Barbie aisle when it was still on the market.

The Doggie Doo Game (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Doggie-Doo-Game/45336158) is also about dog poop. Made by the Goliath company, here’s the blurb about the toy on the aforementioned Wal-Mart page:

Feed and walk your little pup, if he makes a mess, you clean it up. When you squeeze his leash, he makes a gassy sound that gets louder and louder until…plop. The first to clean up after the dog three times wins.

How is this a game?

In addition to the defecating dogs, there is always an assortment of dolls the pee and poop, as well as dolly toilets.

Consider the Fisher-Price Ready for Potty Dora Doll (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Fisher-Price-Ready-for-Potty-Dora-Doll/21098742#about.)

This Fisher-Price Dora Doll, Ready for Potty is learning how to use the potty. This Fisher-Price baby doll knows when she’s gotta go and will ask to be put on the potty. Once this baby Dora Doll is done using the potty, she will sing and celebrate to show how proud she is. This doll will get children interested in toilet training.

Wow! How were generations of children potty trained without Dora there to show ’em how it’s done, then sing and celebrate?

Then there’s the classic Baby Alive (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Baby-Alive-Super-Snacks-Snackin-Sara-African-American/42208819). These days it’s all about the snacks.

Keep your little girl engaged for hours with this fun Baby Alive Doll from Hasbro. Sara gets hungry, thirsty and sleepy. She needs someone to use the shaping tools and make her all kinds of snacks. She will drink from her pretend juice box and then poop in her diaper when she is full.

If a baby doll with a dirty diaper isn’t quite enough, how about adding the BABY born Interactive Potty Experience (http://www.walmart.com/ip/BABY-born-Interactive-Potty-Experience/44999171)? (The weird capitalization  is right off the Wal-Mart website.)

Enchant the girl in your life with the BABY born Interactive Potty with Toilet Flush sound. She will enjoy training her doll to use the bathroom. All she has to is place the baby on the toilet and she will hear funny sounds when she presses the button. Lifelike sounds also include applause and giggling. The potty training baby will provide hours of entertainment for your little lady.

I could go on and on about defecating dolls, but I’ll stop after one more example, the Lalaloopsy (whatever that is) Babies Surprise Potty toy (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lalaloopsy-Babies-Surprise-Potty/44999157).

Make playtime more fun and interesting for your child with this Lalaloopsy Babies Surprise Potty toy. This model is specially designed to help your child better understand how the body works. This Lalaloopsy potty doll “magically” poops a surprise shape when she goes. All you need to do is feed her with the included “baby” food. When she’s ready, simply place her on the potty and she will poop it out. It’s a different shape every time.

If you view the video on the webpage cited, you can ask yourself, as I did, how what this doll does could possibly help a child understand how the body works. According the the (disturbingly upbeat and colorful) commercial, pooping happens after turning a dial in the belly button area. Also according the the commercial, poop is colorful and imprinted with button, flower, heart, and star shapes. If I were two years old, this doll would not help me understand how the body works. If I were two years old, this doll would confuse the fuck out of me!

I’d thought all of the aforementioned toys were a tad much, but then I saw the Poo Dough. Yes, Poo Dough. (It does not seem to be manufactured by Hasbro, the company that makes Play-Doh.)

IMG_4129

We as a society have sunk to a new low, when we think molding fake shit is a great way to play.

Here’s what the Wal-Mart website (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Prank-Star-Poo-Dough/39362290) has to say about the stuff:

Make and shape your own poo! Add the Poo Dough to the mold and make your own poo-shaped creations. It includes two canisters of brown Poo Dough (in different shades) and one canister of yellow (to create corn and peanut accessories). It looks like the real thing but smells much better!
Prank Star Poo Dough:

  • Make and shape your own poo
  • 2 canisters of brown dough
  • 1 canister of yellow dough
  • Plastic mold

If you’re wondering if that mold really works, you can go to YouTube and see how it’s done.

I took the photo in this post.

Prank Star Poo Dough

Holly Hobbie

Standard

I was at the Goodwill Clearance Center. I walked over to the table on wheels where toys were heaped in piles, and I saw her there. She was one of my oldest friends, but I hadn’t thought about her in years.

Holly Hobbie.

She looked the way I remembered her: beige “blond” braids, small features on a cloth face, blue bonnet with tiny yellow flowers, “patchwork” dress, bloomers which matched her bonnet, and black cloth shoes.

I scooped her right up and put her in my basket.

IMG_2434

I took this photo of the Holly Hobbie doll I found at the Goodwill Clearance Center.

Holly Hobbie wasn’t my first soft toy, but she was one of the earliest. I don’t remember receiving her, doubtless for some special occasion. I do remember my parents giving me Bicentennial Holly Hobbie for my 5th birthday in 1976, so the original Holly Hobbie came before that. I also had Holly’s friend Heather, but I can’t remember when she came along. (Heather was taller than Holly and Bicentennial Holly was shorter than regular Holly, so it was easy to pretend they were sisters.)

I did not take this photo of Holly Hobbie’s friend Heather.

I didn’t take this photo of Bicentennial Holly Hobbie either.

Through the years, I had other Holly Hobbie toys.

I had a much smaller, plastic Holly Hobbie doll with a picnic play set. She had weirdly synthetic combable hair.

I did not take this photo of the Holly Hobbie play set.

I named the dog Chocolate because it was the same color as a Hershey’s kiss. One time I had the set at my mawmaw’s house and was showing it to my aunt. She was holding the doggy, and I said, “That’s Chocolate.” She thought I meant it was made of actual chocolate and was kind of grossed out/embarrassed that she was touching what she thought was my candy.

My sister had the The Holly Hobbie General Store.

I did not take this photograph.

This was a Colorforms toy, and it was super cool because unlike most Colorforms at the time, it was 3-D! You slid the walls into slots on the floor, and the walls stood up. All the little girls stood on their bases and could be moved inside or outside. I really liked to set up all the little slick plastic “objects” in their proper places in the store, but once everything was set up, I lost interest. I guess I was a little too old for imaginative play, by the time my sis got this set.

I really liked the girl in the green bonnet because she had glasses just like me. I didn’t take this photo either.

When I was younger, I definitely had this Holly Hobbie Colorforms set. I managed to play with this set for hours at a time, even though the dress-up possibilities were limited. I guess I knew from reading the Little House on the Prairie books that those old time girls didn’t have a lot of wardrobe options.

Nope, I didn’t take this photo either. Why is this Holly Hobbie a redhead when my stuffed doll is clearly blond?

I had these Holly Hobbie sewing cards too.

This photo is not mine. Notice the difference in style between this Holly Hobbie and her friends and the way they were envisioned by Colorforms.

I spent countless hours lacing the bright yarn through those little holes. Is this how I learned to sew?

My lunchbox all through elementary school and into middle school looked like this one.

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ1GIixc9iLxYJrHf0Xzu9rvm6ZelZu0RbwstPjcH33kqH0MY8KFA

This was the other side of my lunchbox. I didn’t take either photo.

I think my family had this book too. I only remember the cover (I didn’t take the photo.)

The book I really remember about Holly Hobbie was given to me by a family friend one year for Christmas when I was probably 11. It was called The Adventures of Holly Hobbie and was written by Richard Dubelman.

This photo was not taken by me.

The story was absolutely fantastic! It is about a girl (probably in her early teens) whose archeologist dad is missing in Central or South America. Holly Hobbie, the girl’s ancestor, comes alive and steps out of a portrait. Although Holly Hobbie is the protagonist’s ancestor, when the portrait was painted she was about the same age as this particular descendant, so that’s the Holly Hobbie who comes to life.The two girls go on a quest to save the dad. I read this book multiple times and absolutely loved it. I read it in the mid 80s, when books with strong, brave girls as main characters were more difficult to find than they are today. I wish I could read this book again and see if I’d like it as much now as I did then.

With all of this Holly Hobbie in my life, my favorite was always the stuffed doll. I remember being really little and crying and wiping my tears onto my Holly Hobbie doll’s face. Holly Hobbie was my first best friend. That’s why I had to rescue her from the megabig thrift store, and that’s why I’m going to be a grown woman riding around with a Holly Hobbie doll in her van. I don’t care who thinks it’s weird.

This photo I did take.

This photo I did take.