American Girl has partnered with pediatrician and author, Dr. Cara Natterson, on a go-to guide for moms and daughters. The three-book set, The Care & Keeping of Us: A Sharing Collection for Girls and Their Moms, provides the tools to get conversations going on topics of concern for many growing girls, including body basics, hygiene, healthy habits, social media, and more.
At the recent American International Toy Fair, Alex Toys showed off new products in its popular line of art supplies and art sets, and introduced new craft kits intended specifically for the tween market.
The extension in Alex Toys’ art line is intended to encourage creativity in open-ended ways, including a diverse selection of new art materials such as oil and chalk pastels, metallic pencils, glitter paint, sidewalk stencils, and acrylic paints.
The Ultimate Easel Accessories set comes with art supplies including poster paint, lidded paint cups, natural bristle brushes, paper roll, chalk, board markers, and board eraser. Meanwhile, the Color A Canvas, Mark It Up Canvas, and Paint A Canvas kits let kids create beautiful works of art with markers and paints on pre-printed canvases. Designs of varying complexity suit artists ranging from younger to older kids.
For its tween lines, Alex Toys is incorporating popular fashion design elements in its DIY kits. Along with extending its jewelry line with Spike Jewelry, Boho Bands, and Chain Bracelets, the company is also expanding its line of Alex Tech Couture accessory craft kits. New products include Duct Tape Tech for tablets and smart phone cases, Glam Rock Speakers, and Bling Headphones that give personality and texture to tech items through stickers, gems, and neon and patterned colors.
This year will also see the arrival of the Alex Spa collection for girls, and new party-sized spa and salon kits.
Toys “R” Us has introduced exclusive do-it-yourself fashion accessories and crafts designed by actress and musician Victoria Justice. The new line, Totally Me! by Victoria Justice is intended for tweens ages 8 and up.
The line features 16 items. Totally Me! by Victoria Justice customizable jewelry kits, craft kits, and the Victoria’s Closet Fashion Sketchbook kit are currently available online at toysrus.com/victoriajustice, and will appear in Toys “R” Us Stores nationwide in the coming weeks.
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?
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!