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Collectible Kids
An Adult Guide to Children's Science Fiction Collectibles
Strange New Worlds  Issue 14 - June/July 1994

Girls Toys That
Might Not Make You Gag
by Adrienne Reynolds

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s quite shocking and may possibly generate mail, but here it is: boys and girls are different. Yes, that’s right, despite the best efforts of liberal-minded parents everywhere, girls still do "girl" things and boys still pretend a crust of bread is a semi-automatic weapon. If encouraged, boys and girls will play with each other and can even learn to recognize their gender without feeling morally superior to the other. (This will probably only last until puberty, after which survival of adolescence makes each side feel like the other couldn’t possibly have had it as bad: but that’s another column.)

But here’s where the real problem lies: toys. All children’s toys made today are either "Boy" toys or "Girl" toys. The industry does this on purpose and doesn’t design anything unisex aimed at children over the age of three.

Boys get the cool toys. They get laser cannons and spaceships and erector sets and action figures, radio-controlled vehicles, comics, trading cards, model kits, racing sets, Matchbox cars. Heck, it’s obvious that boys get all the fun stuff.

Dolls and Plush are marketed towards girls, so even potentially cool stuff like Barbie’s radio-controlled Lamburgini is designated a "fashion doll accessory." But GI Joe’s radio-controlled tank is listed as a "radio-controlled vehicle." By these odd standards, the industry considers the action figures of the two female Power Rangers to be "Male action figures." Polly Pockets Safari playset is a "Mini Doll," but Mighty Max, made in the same scale from the same concept, is a Mini-Figure Male Action Toy.

Boys get action figures — girls get dolls. Oh, they occasionally call them other things, but dolls are what girls get. Not a single exploding laser cannon in sight. Their playsets somewhere feature the word "fashion." And in the last decade some marketeer decided that little girls only see two colors: pink and purple. The toy industry shouldn’t be surprised that their stereotyped "Boys" toys outsell "Girls" toys: Star Trek, Exosquad, and Power Rangers sell because these toys are exciting, while "My Little Angel" and dolls that transform into jewelry are BORING! Plus, pink, purple, and fuchsia can provide only so much visual interest. I never thought I’d miss Smurfs, but at least they were blue.

How Does Barbie Afford It?

As a young girl, I wondered where Barbie got the money to live her lifestyle and invest in all her retail businesses. Mattel provides the answer with the Barbie Dream Bed. This pink canopy bed draped in lace features a rotating disco light that projects moon and star patterns as it rotates inside the canopy. Barbie is pictured lounging in a transparent white nightie. All those jokes about GI Joe on leave take on new meaning . . .

At this year’s toy fair, lines of "Boys" toys outnumbered "Girls" toys five to one. The "Girls" toys usually looked alike. By Christmas time, the little girl in your life may be asking for dolls and plush toys (after all, not every little girl wants to play with the seaQuest DSV sub.) So, for those looking for a "Girls" toy that won’t make you gag, I have sifted through the offerings and found toys that all contain pink, but are playable and marginally related to the "fantasy" genre.

The Best "Girl" Toy

Kenner’s Fairy Winkles are far and away the best "girl" toy on the market this year. All of their playsets are gimmicky and have hidden panels and compartments that develop both motor skills and sneakiness. They actually use a few colors besides pink and purple and look like everyday objects when they are put away.

Fairy Winkles look like Victorian flowerpots and figurines and jewelry boxes, but hidden inside are the Fairy Winkles (about 1" tall) and their tiny friends the Wee Winkles (about a 1/2", if that). Some of the hiding places are so devious that they have false empty compartments. When you open up the jewelry playhouse it can actually hold jewelry, but you have to know its secrets to get to where the Fairy Winkles hang out.

The Winkles have silk wings made of the same materials as silk flowers and the cherubic design of Fairy and Wee Winkles borrow heavily from Victorian Greeting cards. All of the detail is captured with excellent molding and painting. The only other Kenner line I like as much for ingenuity and construction is the Pet Shop Pets.

They playtested well with girls under nine. Most boys older than five wouldn’t go near the things. "That’s for girls," was the reason most frequently given. Average play time was about thirty minutes to an hour. More, if they have more than one set. Prices range from $4.99 to $26.00. Most are at the lower end of the price scale. These feature Fairy points to send away for Jewelry that hides the little Winkles.

Dragons from Galoob

Galoob’s whimsical and colorful Magic Kissing Dragons feature "extended hair play." Translation: they have manes that you can brush. These kissing dragons drink from flower petals full of scented water; when you squeeze them, they give you a little scented kiss. Dragon accessories include a car, a wishing well, and a castle. All are well designed, even if they are pink. The Wishing Well is the best playset; the children imagine all sorts of situations by making wishes, leading them into more unusual play. The Dragon’s kiss lights up the well and changes the colors on the magic butterfly and baby frog. Children play traditional house with the castle, but it’s still neat.

Boys responded a little better to the Magic Kissing Dragons than the Fairy Winkles. But for both boys and girls, you are dealing with a very low age range. Unless specifically requested by the kid, don’t purchase these for anyone older than seven. Prices range from $5.99 for the dragon and go up to the mid-twenty dollar range for accessories.

My Little Angels - Just Say No

In the Just Say No department: AMT / ERTL is taking its first stab at the girl’s market with My Little Angels. These toys bring a new meaning to the word "tacky." I do not know who thought it would be a good idea to have their eyes glow in the dark, but I’m certain that they will be featured in some future Stephen King novel. There are two kinds of angels: 1) the cherubs and 2) the "grown" angels who look like they are about eight years old and belong to a drug-using cult.

Each angel has a "dominion" that sets gender roles back about a hundred years. There’s a kitchen angel and a nursery angel and angels of designing, music, and love. Another angel assortment features angel careers including bride, cheerleader, teacher, ballerina, and doctor. The doctor, "Miss" Casey, doesn’t even have a stethoscope, just a band-aid theme to her tiara. There is a daybed that looks like it comes from the same house of ill-repute as Barbie’s.

My daughter has already seen the commercial and asked for these horrible little creatures. I have held firm and will remain so. It’s one thing to use lace and pink and purple, but it looks like ERTL took every stereotype of a "girl" toy and market research on the angel craze of last year and put their taste and brains on hold. In my book divine beings have better things to do than wear bottles on their heads like a tiara. I do not believe that in heaven cherubs would wet their color change diapers.

The scary thing is that in the fall there will be a cartoon featuring these simps. I have a feeling it’s going to make Strawberry Shortcake look progressive and avant garde.

So, there you have it. My house will be filled with Fairy Winkles and tolerant of Kissing Dragons, but I’ll have little demons that skate on ice in my bathtub before My Little Angels show a stardust-filled wing here.


All toys should be washed at least every six months to help prevent grubby hands from spreading too many grubby germs. Plush toys (stuffed animals and rag dolls) may be cleaned of dust and pollen allergens by running them in the dryer on fluff. This will also maintain their appearance and color. If you have allergies, run your toy animal through the dryer every other month. Don’t worry about the ASPCA: teddy bears love it. You can also throw in a dryer sheet to keep them aromatic. l

Collectible Kids Column:
About Educational Toys and Collectables that are Fun to Play With!

Articles written by Adrienne Reynolds:

bulletPassing on your Science Fiction ideals to your children
bulletChildren's Dollhouses - Playsets for Boys and Girls
bulletScience Fiction the Kids are Watching
bulletGirl Toys That Might Not Make You Gag
bulletPremiere column: An Adult's Guide to Children's Toys and Collectables

ABOUT COLLECTIBLE KIDS: The Collectible Kids column ran in Strange New Worlds in the early 1990s. It reviewed and recommended children's products that encourage imagination, creativity, a love of learning, a sense of history, and a belief in the future. Plus, any toys listed as "recommended-to-buy" should also be just plain fun to play with. Products were play-tested by actual children. Testing was performed with three different child groups: 1) Coed, ages four through eight, 2) Female, ages eight through fourteen, and 3) Male ages eight through fourteen. Depending upon the toy, a fourth group may be used: Coed, ages eight through fourteen. Following the play-testing, all toys were donated to charity.

ABOUT ADRIENNE REYNOLS: Adrienne Reynolds is the creator and editor-in-chief of "Gateways Past, Future . . . Sideways," a quarterly magazine of character-based stories with a sense of the unexpected. A writing instructor, Ms. Reynolds ran the Fantek Writer’s group.

1950s Spaceship Model Kits
Possession Obsession
Are You a Packrat?
Deep Space 9 Model Kit
Space Stations and Star Trek
Academia and SF Fandom
Sci-Fi Girl Toys
Science Fiction Book Reviews
Letters to the Publisher

More back-issues:
SNW Issue 14
SNW Issue 13
SNW Issue 12
SNW Issue 11
SNW Issue 10
SNW Issue 09
SNW Issue 08
SNW Issue 04



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