China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Not a Barbie Girl!

Barbie just celebrated her 55th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, made a splash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Wearing a skimpy, and quite-controversial, neutral-toned swimsuit, Barbie caused quite a stir. Many argue that it may be time for Barbie to finally step down as the queen of the children’s doll world. Nickolay Lamm, creator of the new Lammily doll, would certainly agree that there is a new girl in town: the “average is beautiful”-promoting Lammily doll.

Lamm claims that Lammily is the world’s first normal-sized doll. Last year, Lamm designed images of what he dubbed, “normal Barbie,” in an attempt to make the doll reflect the proportions of real female bodies. He used the measurements of the average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and molded them into a 3-D model of Barbie.

lammilyBarbie’s unrealistic proportions have long been criticized by feminist campaigns. Although her waist was expanded and her bust made smaller in 1998, her figure remains significantly out of proportion and unrealistic for the average teenager. Studies show that if transformed into a real woman, Barbie’s 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head. She would be required to walk on her hands and feet, as her 6-inch ankles and vast, missing areas of body would not be able to hold her upright. Studies also show that body image issues in young girls may be related, in part, to Barbie and dolls of the like, and that more than 50 percent of girls ages 9 to 10 claim to be, “on a diet.” This is deeply unsettling, and it seems that while no one thing can be blamed for this warped sense of body image in young girls, Barbie’s unrealistic figure can’t be helping.

Lammily represents something new. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Candy Land Makeover Causing Controversy Across the Board Games

Great attention is paid to that fine line between self-expression and growing up far too fast when it comes to children, tweens, and teenagers. It seems as though self-esteem issues and body-image obsessions are stemming from less-obvious outlets though, namely Candy Land, a board game we all know and love. A wasp-waisted, more-suggestive Queen Frostine has replaced the original Princess, Grandma Nutt found a plastic surgeon, and Mr. Mint’s biceps have tripled in size. The irony lies in the doubled portions of ice cream and candy; the board is now covered in sweets, while the peanuts and plums have been removed from the 1980s version. So, the real question is: How is Queen Frostine maintaining that figure?

540136_10200923579191139_1857708566_n Candyland-1980s

Left: Candy Land as it appears in stores today. Right: Candy Land as it appeared during my generation: the 80s and 90s. 

Related topics have been discussed for decades, maybe centuries: too-revealing clothing, unfortunate celebrity role models, and the struggle with self-esteem. Writers like Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate my Daughter, and Rachel Marie Stone, author of Eat With Joy, tackle issues regarding Princess-culture and GI-Joe repercussions, while many argue that the rhetoric is overly sensitive and dramatized. Are toys and games taken at face value, or are they sending messages that are affecting the esteem of youngsters? Stone points out that research has proven that from a young age, boys and girls struggle with self-image due to the damage left by media and societal expectations.

Orenstein states, “When our kids play with toys that we played with, we assume that they are the same toys. So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s not the same at all. It just has the same name. And the images our kids are exposed to from the youngest ages are so distorted.”

Candy Land is not the only nostalgic toy taking heat for putting child-like figures on a diet. Lately, Barbie, Rainbow-Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Dora, My Little Ponies, and even Care Bears have taken on drastic transformations. In defense of toymakers everywhere, it may be argued that they are simply following the trends of toy sale demographics. This is a sticky subject, and it’s difficult to decipher where the problem lies. Are we being too sensitive, or are we glorifying unrealistic expectations for children?

For more commentary from Kara, 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!