Scranton-based BMC Toys carries a torch for classic play that resonates well beyond its Pennsylvania home.
Founded in 1991 by the late Bill McMaster — a former buyer and director of purchasing at Toys “R” Us — the company became famous for it’s Plastic Army Men. Made in the U.S. using vintage toy molds from companies including the Louis Marx Co., Payton, and MPC, the little green army men are sold by the bagful, just as they’ve been for decades. In recent years, one question asked of BMC Toys and its parent company, VictoryBuy Inc., has come up with increasing frequency: “Do you have any female toy soldiers?” Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the answer will soon be, “yes!”
A wave of national media coverage followed the story of a letter from a little girl that reached BMC Toys President Jeff Imel. It was a request that he’d heard many times before, particularly from women who’d served in the Armed Forces. The interest led to a Kickstarter campaign that surpassed its initial goal in under 12 hours — quickly unlocking stretch goals that will put sets of Plastic Army Women into production with at least 12 different poses created by Canadian sculptor James Schaik. Additional stretch goals will unlock variant color schemes.
In an update posted to the BMC Toys blog back in August, Imel noted that the company was working on creating figures that fit a “What if?” scenario in which women served in combat roles during World War II and the Cold War era. This approach would allow the new figures to fit with the existing, classic-based figures that the company already sells, and as Imel recently noted, “from a practical standpoint, it would be extremely difficult to identify the gender of small-scale soldiers in modern combat gear.”
The Kickstarter campaign is open through Dec. 17. BMC Toys expects to have its first shipments of Plastic Army Women ready for battle next year.