COMMENTARY: Dolls: Inspiring Kids Through Play

For years, Mattel‘s Barbie has been held under very close scrutiny for her appearance. She is often criticized for her unrealistic body type and the kind of message that sends to girls. But, of course, Barbie’s good qualities should not be overlooked. She is a smart woman with quite an impressive resume. Another quality Barbie is famous for is her vast array of careers. Barbie can be anything that she wants to be—and so can the kids that play with her. I use Barbie as an example because she is probably the most popular and widely known doll on the market, but there are many other dolls out there that have positive messages for young girls attached to them—and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

zelfsMoose Toys has introduced the Zelfs, collectible dolls that live in a “fab-itat” in the secret garden of Zardenia. This dolls, a little reminiscent of Troll dolls, feature colorful, spiketacular hair that can be style in all sorts of different ways. Each Zelf has its own unique persona and a Zelf power that is represented by a Zelf mark. The Zelf currently on my desk, Angelala, has the Zelf power of kindness. Each Zelf also comes with matching charms and hair accessories (Angelala’s got a pretty fabulous harp). The new line includes small, medium, and large Zelfs, and the Venus Fly Trap Spin Salon Playset that twirls and swirls each Zelf’s hair with the push of a button.

The Zelfs come with a powerful message to “Love YourZelf,” and each Zelf’s power represents traits that young girls can learn to embrace in themselves, such as love, creativity, bravery, and positivity. The adorable Zelfs are not only collectible toys with great hair play, but also a message to kids about how to not only know what makes you unique, but to embrace it and share it with the world.

The Zeenie Dollz are a line of dolls with a different type of powerful message—focusing on the environment. Zeenie Dollz are powerful, stylish eco-warriers. Each of the six dolls in this series has a unique eco-power that protects the environment. Zeenia embodies Mother Earth, the protector of our planet. The other dolls include Evee, protector of the skies and defender against pollution; Kazumi, protector of  the polar regions and defender against global warming; Lina, protector of the rainforest and defender against deforestation; Sini, protector of farmland and defender of mistreated and abused animals; and Yana protector of the oceans and defender of marine conservation.

zeenie

The Zeenie Dollz provide a way to start teaching kids about protecting the environment in a way that’s more fun than sitting in a classroom lecture about recycling. The Zeenie Dollz aren’t hypocrites either—the 12-inch, ball-jointed dolls are made entirely of recyclable materials and non-toxic plastics.

hugglesMy Friend Huggles, from the Great Divide Corp., is a life-size doll that nourishes the development of character values in kids. Each doll teaches a specific character value, such as kindness, graciousness, or confidence, and has a satin ribbon on its back to explain how a child can embrace that value. My Friend Huggles dolls include Lily (kind), Rubi (grateful), Sofia (generous), Mia (honest), Bia (fair), Kira (cheerful), Myles (courage), and Mimi (confidence).

My Friend Huggles focuses on the emotional well-being of a child, building character, instilling confidence, and setting a positive example through friendship. Features of the My Friend Huggles dolls include optimistic eyes, hair play that stimulates creativity and imagination, a sweet smile, a special virtue, removable clothing for dress-up, crossed legs to teach etiquette and manners, the doll’s name, and a forever mark, where a child’s name can be written as a commitment of friendship. My Friend Huggles is more than just a cuddly plaything—the dolls teach valuable character lessons through play.

To see more inspring dolls, check out the dolls showcase, starting on page 28, in the July/August issue of The Toy Book.

For more commentary from Ali, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!