Anyone engaged in consumerist big-box shopping this season (which ideally would be avoided, although particularly when dealing with Tinkerbell-obsessed four-year-olds it can be hard to find an acceptable Etsy substitute. Merry frigging Mithras) has probably walked into a toy store, looked at the pink section full of “girl stuff” and the blue section full of “boy stuff” and heaved a sigh.
You’ll be pleased to know that London toy store Hamleys has done away with the pink and blue in favor of a gender-stereotype-free layout grouped by type of toy. Shoppers will search for the perfect gift in “Soft Toys” and “Arts & Crafts.” Parents of Lego-obsessed daughters can go straight to the section designated for building toys, rather than wandering around pinkville digging through boxes of My Pink Dreamhouse to find something that will build an airplane. Parents of sons who like dress-up can go to the costumes section to pick up a doctor costume or a nurse costume or a princess costume or whatever else he’s into. And no one looking for a telescope will have to wonder if astronomy is a “boy thing” or a “girl thing.”
“We are in the process of detailed planning for a complete refit of our store on Regent Street. As part of this planning, it was made clear to us from consultants’ and customer surveys that our store directional signage was confusing. As a result we commenced changing all our signage in October of this year in order to improve customer flow.”
If that’s really the case, it’s is actually more encouraging to me than any kind of conscious pink/blue integration effort–it’s a response to parents who don’t particularly care about “boy toys” or “girl toys” but just want to know where the damned colo(u)ring books are already.
My parents have never been rabid materialists, but during the early-’80s Cabbage Patch Kids shopstravaganza my dear mom did make the requisite 5:00-a.m. visit to the loading dock at K-mart to wrestle with other moms before the dolls were gone. That year, my older brother got a Cabbage Patch astronaut named Jeffy and I got a little yellow-haired girl named Stephanie. She was quickly abandoned face-down under the tree in favor of something else I found more interesting. My brother was devastated that I should treat poor Stephanie with such heartless disregard and immediately picked her up and set her to playing with his astronaut. Your move, Toys R Us.
On a vaguely related note: Is it just a southeastern U.S. thing, or do kids in other areas refer to action figures as “dudes”? I’m always entertained listening to kids play as one kid’s “dudes” face off against another kid’s “dudes.” I’ve always thought that if I owned a toy store, the action-figures section would just be labeled “Dudes.” Of course, ideally the doll world will diversify such that instead of fashion dolls for girls and action figures for boys, we’ll see the “dudes” joined by a significant number of action-packed… “dudettes”? Just call them all “actioneers”? Dunno. Makes the naming of the section a little less punchy. But it’s a hit I’m willing to take in the name of feminism.