Thanks to a 6-year-old American, military figures will include women in their ranks

Prototype of a female soldier presented by BMC Toys.
Prototype of a female soldier presented by BMC Toys. BMC Toys

VSIs well known, the "Dolls it's for girls, cars for boys". Finally, in theory. Because the gendered toys are worried to be made, and not only in France, where has just been signed a charter to promote "A mixed representation of toys". In the United States, Vivian Lord, 6, wrote a letter full of spelling mistakes that had the merit of setting foot in the dish. This little girl who lives in Little Rock, capital of Arkansas, took her pen to denounce what she perceived as an injustice: the absence of female soldier figurines.

It was during the summer that Vivian Lord made this discovery. While vacationing with her family in Alabama, she won a few plastic figures in a video game room. "She was hypnotized (by his figurines), that she was lining up to play », told his mother, Brittany Lord, in theArkansas Democrat Gazette. Then Vivian asked: "Why are there no girls' toy figures? " His mother admitted that she never asked the question.

16% of the US Army

Yet women represent 16% of the US military: they are or have been fighter pilots, like Martha McSally or Amy McGrath; one of them runs the 40e infantry division of the National Guard; another a section of infantry in the Marines; the New York Times devoted an article to "Forty women who tell their life in the army"

Vivian Lord has therefore decided to touch two words to American manufacturers of military figurines. Some research has allowed her to identify several – including BMC Toys in Pennsylvania – to whom she wrote a letter:

"Why do not you make little girl soldiers? My friend's mother is also in the army, so why do not you do it too? I saw the (Soldiers) roses, but they are not girls, and the people of the army do not wear roses. Some girls do not even like pink. So please, could you make sure that(they) look like women? I would play with them every day and my friends too. Thank you. "

To Jeff Imel, the president of BMC Toys, this letter reminded another: in 2018, JoAnn Ortloff, an officer of the US Navy, had already written to him to ask why there were no soldier figures. "I grew up playing with my brother's plastic soldiersshe wrote. My 3 granddaughters are young. I want them to play with soldiers plastic, but there is none. " Mme Ortloff is also a member of the Military Women's Advisory Committee within the Department of Defense.

In fact, since the plastic military figurines exist, they have not really changed, says the New York Times. Invented in the late 1930s, these figurines ranging in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters were first produced in "American Army" color and molded into a variety of poses meant to reflect reality. The demand for these "little green men" exploded in the 1950s thanks to the boom in plastic manufacturing and the detriment of lead soldiers, made less attractive by the fear of intoxication.

Soon, these figurines took on color: to the American soldiers in olive green plastic were added the German soldiers, molded in gray, then Japanese in yellow, English in beige, etc. They traveled in time and space, representing the Romans, the Napoleonic wars, the cowboys and the Indians, the astronauts. In 2011, Time Magazine got them into his top 100 most popular toys since the beginning of the XXe century. They also appear in three of the movies in the sequel Toy Story.

Figurines deliverable in 2020

Jeff Imel did his homework. He discovered that in the history of plastic military figurines, there were some female examples: Japanese, high-heeled, and military nurses. He warned Mme Ortloff that he would explore the idea, but that preparing new mussels was expensive. Vivian Lord's letter, the numerous reports of local and national media on the request of this little girl and the avalanche of letters that followed, however, accelerated the movement.

Mail received by BMC to encourage her to produce miniatures of female soldiers.
Mail received by BMC to encourage her to produce miniatures of female soldiers. BMC Toys

The boss of BMC Toys understood that it was necessary to react: "Most of the plastic figurines were made in the 1950s and 1960s and were inspired by American soldiers of the Second World War and the Cold War, times when women were not allowed to fight, does he admit to World. Today's plastic figurines are made with these old molds, or copies (or copies of copies) of older figures. "

So he changed his mind, put his teams to work, presented sketches at a toy show in September in Chicago. The first prototypes are a standing soldier, holding a handgun and a pair of binoculars; another standing with a rifle; another on his knees, shooting; another elongated, shooting at the rifle; and a fifth on his knees, shooting with a bazooka. The CEO of BMC will launch a crowdfunding campaign before starting production, for Christmas deliverable figures in 2020. "It takes a year to develop a series"says Imel.

The video game that has dethroned the little soldiers has been quicker to put female characters in the spotlight, by Lara Croft (tomb Raider) in Cortana (Halo) through Ellie (The Last of Us). Even the franchises of the first person shooter like Battlefield and Call of Duty have bowed, provoking the ire of those who claim that during the Second World War women were confined to supporting roles. Oskar Gabrielson, general manager of DICE, the studio that develops Battlefield do not care "The female characters are here to stay. "


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