Toymate is a leading toy company with stores throughout Australia. I personally visited their store on the NSW Central Coast earlier this week with the intention of reviewing the inclusion of their toy brands. Their ranges were extensive and were inclusive of toy categories such as action figures and heroes, dolls, craft, puzzles and lego to name a few.
Action Figures and Heroes
They had a variety of collectables within this toy category showcasing brands such as Marvel, Transformers, Power Rangers and WWE. They also had a range of black presenting characters available on the shelves. However, upon researching the ranges more extensively there are definitely more culturally diverse action figures which they could be stocking and including in store but currently are not. This being said this is the only toy shop to date that at least had some options available which was great to see.
To say their doll range was extensive would be an understatement. They had many lead brands represented in store such as L.O.L, Disney, Baby Alive, Barbie and Baby Born. I would say about half of these brands had black presenting dolls available but few used culturally diverse children in their packaging and marketing materials.
This visit did leave me reflecting on something specific which is the lack of black presenting dolls in hairdressing or hairstyling themed products. Hair comes in all different colours and textures and the way in which its cared for and styled is equally diverse. I did see one Barbie hair dressing product that by the box had me assuming that there was more diversity available in this range however that diversity was not represented in store.
I also was unable find any males doll babies in store.
I’ve been having some discussions of late with educators about the inclusiveness within the Lego range. What I have seen in mainstream shops to date had led me to the assumption that it wasn’t an inclusive brand however I now think and feel very differently.
One educator told me that she believed the reason the traditional figurines have always been yellow is so that children can imagine them to be anyone and anything as they are not physically reflective of any one race or cultural group. This prompted me to do a bit of research in which I discovered that Lego does in fact have a really strong and great ethos around diversity and inclusion. You can read more about their holistic approach to inclusion here: Diversity and inclusion - About us - LEGO.com US
In one section they speak specifically about children and say “Regardless of race, gender, language or religion, children of all ages love to play, and LEGO commercials should reflect that. That’s why we work to ensure that our creative content reflects society and the children who play with LEGO bricks.”
Additionally their Chief Marketing Officer Julia Goldin said “The children who will be the leaders and the problem solvers of tomorrow will be as diverse as the ideas, thoughts and the skills they possess. We will do all we can to empower every child to reach their potential and create experiences that allow diverse people to thrive and impact our culture positively."
Whilst my research has now shown me that this brand is worthy of our support additionally what it showed is that toy companies don’t see the inclusive ranges to be as desirable and therefore do not stock them extensively.
This was definitely the case with Toymate. For example there is a Lego “friends” range that encompasses several culturally diverse characters. In the bigger packs that they had in store there was a good range of the characters available but in the individual smaller packs where there was only one character included the white presenting characters dominated.