Tuesday, April 22, 2014

McDonald's Happy Set Toys (product information)

I occasionally read advice columns to see what sort of problems people feel they need third-party assistance with. Often, it's something along the lines of someone has been invited to a wedding that includes a shake-down for cash rather than allowing them to just buy a gift and do they have the Agony Auntie's permission to not pony up some dough. Of course, all of them say "there, there, you don't have to capitulate to this emotional blackmail for money."

At any rate, one of the more interesting letters was from a woman who ran a playgroup and had a nanny who was stopping a little boy from playing with the "girl's" toys like dolls, plastic ponies and unicorns, and, er... tampons, or whatever little girls play with these days. I wasn't a girly girl when I grew up so I'm not sure what they tend to pay attention to. At any rate, the playgroup's organizer wanted to tell the nanny to stop being so gender-biases and let the little boy play with whatever he wanted to fondle. When I saw these two starkly different sets of toys, I was thinking this is exactly the sort of thing that would get those two women fighting.

The gender lines for these sets is pretty clear. Boys are supposed to be drawn the Ultraman set on the left and girls to the Aikatsu goods on the right. The colors alone tell the story of what little boys and girls should choose, but the dainty, frilly accessories also indicate clearly that the Aikatsu junk is for the set which will one day be sashaying around an office trying to attract a suitable breadwinner for her family. After all, what is all that plastic jewelry for if not to draw attention to oneself?

The boys, apparently, are supposed to content themselves with superhero torsos on little plastic bases. I think they'd actually have more fun putting on the headbands and singing into the microphone. How can you role play superheros when they don't have a pelvis or legs?

These items became available on April 18 (duh, as you can see by the ad). If you'd like your kids to either embrace or reject gender lines, get out there and buy them some Happy Sets and collect suitable plastic crap.


Hirayuki said...

This comes up now and then in our house, since our young son prefers the "girl toy" far more often (but given a choice between Ultraman and Aikatsu, he'd probably do without). Several fast-food chains in the States have done away with gendered toys altogether, and it looks like McDonald's is starting to take baby steps in a more progressive direction, too. I seem to remember some "unmarked" Doraemon-type prize toys that Japanese boys and girls alike would enjoy, but they must be few and far between.

Sherry said...

Ok. But in Japan they don't force the kids to take a specific toy. They get to tell the cashier which one they want and as long as it's still in stock they get it. Maybe boys usually pick the boy stuff and girls pick the girl stuff, but they decide themselves.

Orchid64 said...

In the U.S., they don't force you to take any particular one either, but somehow I doubt there are large numbers of little boys wearing plastic pink jewelry and headbands - and even fewer whose parents would say it's okay to make such a choice.