Playmobil Toys: Boys on Steroids, Girls on Xanax

Boys and girls are different, I get it.  That difference is biological and organic, indisputable some would say.  Since my own childhood, the gender difference between boys and girls has become a marketing bonanza.  BIG bucks, no whammies.  Exploitation City.  Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Adventure is for boys, the old homestead is for girls.  We all know the rules and not enough of us challenge them.

The toys that we guide our children to practically require steroids for boys to reach the testosterone levels required of the fantasies they are geared towards, and these poor girls require Xanax to cope with the drearily cheerful four walls of home, which appear to be all the adventure they can handle. Sigh.

We should do better.  If girls have broken through the T-ball and soccer ceilings of play, why are they relegated to hearth and home in toy imagination settings?  Lego got slammed for introducing Lego Friends last year, play sets specifically manufactured and marketed to girls involving lots of home scenes.  Yuck.

Four year old Mary Tyler Son was introduced to Playmobil last year by his grandparents.  They are great toys that require no batteries or on and off switches.  They are simple dolls and figures set in interesting settings — zoos, oceans, prehistoric caves.  I have become a fan.  My boy can sit with a single set, just he and his imagination, and have a great time all on his own. That is some serious mom porn right there — a few minutes alone while your child plays happily on his own without a screen.

Given my fan status, I was thrilled to find a huge wall of Playmobil offerings at an independent bookshop recently.  I got all excited knowing how excited Mary Tyler Son might be to see them.  While I was scoping them out, it hit me, like a ton of bricks.  Ugh.  The dreaded pink ghetto of toys.  There, off in the corner, were a small selection of pink Playmobil boxes.  Their shelving real estate was another clue that they were less than compared to the blue boxes featured more prominently.

What the hell, Playmobil?  Really?  You, too?  You’re German — I expect more from you.  Don’t pander to marketers.  Don’t believe that a girl really wants to play in a bathroom.  Don’t enforce whack gender stereotypes on our children.  Do better.  Use your imagination.  Help a mother out and eliminate the pink ghetto of toys.

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