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Toy Catalog Goes "Gender Neutral" - Looks "Normal" To Me!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Everyone's talking today about the new holiday catalog from Top Toy, Sweden's largest toy store chain. After drawing criticism with its last catalog depicting boys and girls in stereotypical roles - ie princesses & superheroes - Top Toy did its best to make amends with this new edition.

Buzz words make me wary, so I didn't know what to expect when I saw all the headlines blaring "gender neutral" and even "gender-swapped" in reference to a toy catalog.  I was starting to fear some bizarre land of beige jumpsuits and bob haircuts ala the J'naii from Star Trek.


(I know you all obviously remember the J'naii, but just in case...)

But then I saw the catalog for myself, and you know what? It doesn't need buzz words. It's just semantics, of course, but I'd have described it as more "all-inclusive" than anything. And gender-swapped isn't quite accurate, since all of the toys show both boys and girls playing with them, and often together.


I don't usually like to post something that most other geek and news blogs have already covered, but since many of those sites are only including the one photo of a girl holding a Nerf gun, I thought it might be valuable to show you guys the more complete picture:

 See? Girls *and* boys. As it should be!



Needless to say, I love this catalog. I just wish it had come about as a result of society's changing expectations, and not because a watch dog agency forced the toy company into it. 

As with everything relating to gender and stereotypical interests, I think we should focus more on the positive - celebrating diversity and positive role models - than the negative. If we all live our lives in such a way that a girl playing Star Wars or a boy playing House is no big deal, then eventually it won't be a big deal. 

So if we all celebrate this toy catalog, and congratulate Top Toys, and tell them how much these photos represent real kids out there who often feel bad for liking "girl" or "boy" things, then maybe other companies will follow suit.

And maybe - just maybe - in another few years all toy manufacturers will catch on to what we geeks already know: that toys are toys, no matter your gender or age, and there are no rules when playing dragons and castles:



:)


Go see the rest of the Top Toys catalog for yourself here, found via The MarySue commenter The I.

Posted by Jen at 6:23 PM Labels:

58 comments:

  1. I was saddled with, erm, lucky enough to have boys. So every year we choose a girl or two off the Salvation army tree so I can buy sparkly ruffly things. This year, aside from clothes, I got her a very cool chemistry set, everything is included, EVERYTHING! It makes multi-colored "lava", and goop... VERY gender neutral, (Her mom specified engineering type toys, but I thought this was too cool to pass up!) And I got her a build your own silly straw set. It's different sized straws and connectors. I myself grew up with cowboys and Indians, mud fights, barbies, and doll houses. I don't see why so many toys need to be gender specific, like pink leggos. SHHESH!

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  2. I have 2 sons who are getting a play kitchen for Christmas this year. They also have toy shopping carts brooms, and aprons mixed in with all their cars and dump trucks!

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  3. Oh my gosh - I think that's the first time in years that I've seen a girl in a catalog that wasn't wearing pink or (occasionally) purple. Thanks for posting this Jen - I hadn't seen it before - but after looking around the web you were right most of the examples focus on the "gender-swapped" photos. I agree that this looks more like normal than anything else. How nice to finally see in the media that pink princess isn't the only thing a girl is allowed to want - or that some boys might enjoy something other than guns and cars. Even if the company was shamed into it - it's a start.

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  4. As a little girl, growing up in the 80s, I used to play with hot wheels, Star Wars toys, G. I. Joes, He-Man toys, etc. Many of my friends played with the same toys as I did and we never thought anything of it. I don't remember it being as big a deal as it is now.

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  5. As a thirty-nine year old male, I wish my kitchen was as cool as that one.

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  6. It is so nice to to see pink everywhere in a toy catalog. My son (who loves his play kitchen) flips right past the the pink pages with a "Yuck girl's stuff" I pointed out that half the toys in that section were things he either a) owned, or b) liked to play with. He wanted to know why Toys R Us would try to trick him.

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  7. That little boy holding a baby doll may be the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

    Also, I was half-hoping to see a boy playing with a My Little Pony toy. Little bronies FTW!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, Pinkie! I thought it was just your clone that could grow fingers. Pretty awesome.

      Anyway, totally agree about the boy and his baby doll. I think it's cuter than a lot of the girls I see with them.

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  8. As a mum of 3 boys (now outgrowing toys altogether *boo hoo*) I can't tell you how many baby dolls, shopping trolleys, dress-up skirts and hats, play 'house' things and pretend makeup items have passed through our house over years, as well as the cars and guns and Lego and science kits. Boys have, and always will, play happily with what's there, as will girls. As long as you provide a balanced, inclusive environment you'll end up with balanced, inclusive kids. Toy stores take note!

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  9. When I was growing up my Dad used to take my brother and I to McDonalds when my Mom was traveling for work (the horror!) they used to have "boy" Happy Meal toys and "girl" Happy Meal Toys. He used to tell them that he had 2 boys because I wanted the Hot Wheels car more than the Barbie toy. I'm glad he never made it seem like I was the weird one.

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  10. This is awesome! I think it's great to show boys and girls playing together, as well as showing them playing with the same toys, if that makes sense. Girls don't only have other girls as friends, and vice-versa.

    I also agree that hopefully someday none of this kind of thing will be a big deal, because... it's not a big deal at all. So lots of points for the companies that do this kind of thing, and I hope they realize that it's the right thing to do.

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  11. I grew up playing with Legos, Tinkertoys, Barbie, Etch a Sketch and View Master. When we played at the neighbors houses we played with toy soldiers, GI Joe and Star Wars, and they played with our toys at our houses. No big deal.

    I'm currently pregnant and know that if I have a girl, she will get Legos as a gift, and not the pink ones. Nothing wrong with liking pink, but you can't grow up to be Elle Woods, so a knowledge of the whole rainbow is a good thing!

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  12. I'm a 37 year old man from the South. When I was maybe 5 or 6, I wanted a baby doll. My parents bought me one for Christmas one year. She sucked her thumb and I loved her to death. I look back on it and am impressed that my parents had the wisdom to allow me to have that doll without making a big deal out of it. I think that I realized at the time that it was unusual for a boy to play with dolls, but I didn't weird for doing so. BTW, I also loved action figures, legos, and matchbox cars.

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  13. This is great! When I was younger I was always jealous of my boy cousin's (I had 5) toys. They had cool Legos, Nerf guns, and Bionical toys. One time I asked my mom "Can I have Legos to play with like my boy cousins?" She gave me a perplexed look and replied, "No, those are for boys. But you can play with them when you go to their house."

    Being the tom-boy I always was (and still am), I was very confused as to why I couldn't have these types of toys. I played in my sandbox with my dinosaurs, building and landscaping it for them to live in (and sometimes destroy). I made mud pies and romped in the backyard with my dogs and I hated pink (and still do). Sure I played with Barbies and baby dolls, but I thoroughly enjoyed my dinosaurs well into my pre-teen years (and a little after).

    If someday we have a girl, and she wants to play with dolls, and pretty pink things, I won't discourage her choices. But if she asks for Legos for christmas, I'll probably be just as excited as she is when she opens them Christmas morning. More power to ya! ;-)

    Same goes for if we have a boy. My boy cousin's LOVED our dress-up things, baby dolls, play kitchen things, and our other "girly" toys just as much as we liked their "boyish" ones. Gender specific toys are becoming a thing of the past - and I'm very glad to see it that way!

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  14. Living in Denmark (and thus having Sweden next door) this is quite close to home for me. Especially since we have a Danish toy-store chain, with shops in Sweden, and they decided to make two different catalogues - a gender neutral for Sweden and a regular one for Denmark. They are completely identical, except some of the models are of the opposite gender in the Swedish one. Why they did not just make the gender neutral one, I don't know, but their head of marketing has promised that within the next couple of years the catalogues will be identical. Yay.

    I'm SO glad this is finally being discussed, as I have hated on gender stereotypical toys and toy-advertisement for years. We are expecting our first child (any minute now!) and all through my pregnancy the number one question has been "Is it a boy or a girl" (which we have chosen not to know, btw) - and the main reason for the question has been so they would know if they should knit/buy/sew things in pink or blue! And the worst part is that a lot of people seem almost horrified when we explain that we have no intention of putting our newborn, not gender-consious baby in a gender-stereotypical box.

    Sorry for the rant. I've just spent a too-large part of my life being told off by my classmates for playing "boys' games" and a too-large part thinking that liking legos, chemistry sets and computers meant that I had to hate princesses and barbies.

    PS. Oh, and why do we have to fill in one of those annoying recaptcha's?

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  15. I have a very girly little girl (oh, the horror! *g*) so for years we had a house full of Barbie and pink - her choice. But she has hit 10, discovered she loves turquoise, Converse, dressed as a steampunk for Halloween and wants a blue stunt scooter for Christmas. Going to show that it's all about giving kids the freedom to choose what they like - they will find their own way in the end. And, obviously, having toys not branded as "girl" or "boy" helps give them that freedom. About time, too.

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  16. I was delighted to see these news, but then discovered that Top Toys have changed their catalogue for the other nordic countries where complaints haven't been as many. See som examples from the Swedish vs. Norwegian version on my blog. :-(

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  17. In a related category (maybe?), I know I cheer when commercials for household cleaning products show men doing domestic chores. Come to think of it, I also cheer when they show men cooking at home. Pay attention, ad agencies!

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  18. Can we get that agency focused on walmart? They swapped their toy signs at some stores to read "boys" and "girls" instead of listing brands only. Saddening.

    On the plus side, my two year old niece wants a nerf gun just like her brothers'. That makes me giggle like crazy.

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  19. I hate that they were forced into it but I love the catalog! I agree, very realistic. My girls get excited about EVERY toy commercial they see, even the "boy" ones. In fact my 5 year old girl gets really excited about the Home Depot toy workshop. Every time she says, "Look Mom! It 'really' drills!" If I could afford it she would have that under the tree this year in a hot minute!

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  20. As a mother of 3 girls and 2 boys, I can tell you they do play differently, but if you hadn't pointed out the "gender swapping" in the photos, I don't know that I would have noticed it. My girls play with nerf guns and legos, my boys have picked up a baby doll now and again, and we have had more than our share of Barbies and Transformers playing together! I think it is less important what the kids play with, than the significance we, as adults, assign to it.

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  21. My son asked for a doll house last year. My husband pointed out that he already had a Batman Cave but Gage said " No daddy Batman can't cook in his cave, where does he sleep?! It's not like a house!"

    As a girl I played with he-man out the wazoo. Of course my little ponies also fit into Castle Grayskull.

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  22. I have a 2 year old son and am pregnant (hopefully!) with my second child. If #2 is a girl I'll not get her the pink version of anything unless she specifically indicates that's the one she wants. Of course I just don't like to color pink.

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  23. I'm not so sure it would've happened if just the agency forced them (an agency who would only intervene after the public has reported a company). No, it's the parents that are discussing this and made this happen. Gender and children is just such a big and hot topic here nowadays, especially among the middle class (almost taking it too far!). There's been a debate about the gender stereotypical toy catalogs for years now.

    I grew up in the 80's -- a time when a swedish girl could play with water pistols (I had a black one), slimy spiders, toy cars and tractors (I'm a country girl) etc. Things weren't equal and gender neutral, but they weren't as bad and as divided as it became in the 90's. Not attending daycare probably made this even easier for me as it was normal to pick what I liked and play with the boy next door. In groups of children, it's easier for girl and boy cliques to form and for children to reinforce ideas about what's gender appropriate.

    Anyway, over the years something happened. Many blamed foreign newcomers on the swedish market, such as american ToysRUs, but later also Lego and many more, for making the toy catalogs and shops more gendered, embuing them with old values instead of the modern swedish values. In the 00's more and more parents, especially mums, had had enough. There were stories of girls who wouldn't even look at the boy section in the catalogs eventhough it contained toys they liked because "those pages are just for boys, not for me". Girl pages had gotten more and more girly, focusing on everything pink, cute and doll-related; boy pages more and more focused on action, cars and anything tough. And some dads wouldn't let their boys push prams and play with dolls in daycare -- little boys often love "dockis", the doll room in daycare centres and preschools -- as it'd make them gay. (All these men scared of boys being effeminized when talking equality... and of girls turning into man-hating lesbians) *sigh* So growing up with cars and dolls and plushies and guns I hated the new times. Haven't actually read the catalog as we didn't get it in the mail, but love the idea. Girls and boys can play together. And toys are toys, not girl toys and boy toys.

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  24. I live preschoolers currently. I have two little girls of my own and I teach 3-5 year olds, play with 3-5 olds and watch them play on their own. There is something about the gender stereotyping. There is total truth to it. If you give them lego, the girls build houses and the boys build guns. If you give them doll, the girls play mommy, and the boys play superhero. They do play with what ever is there, but they play with it differently.

    I was a tomboy who much preferred guns, mud and g.i. joe to girly things, but I do find pink is used to market to girls because it works.

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  25. This is bringing back memories of using my brother's Legos to build stables for my My Little Ponys. And we shared the Nintendo games....when we could get it away from my dad.

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  26. Does anyone else out there kinda want the dragon castle? Because I do!

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  27. I was a little girl in the 1960's and my fathers rule for ALL toys for us three girls was: is it FUN? so we had Suzy Homemaker ovens, hot wheels, trains, barbie and midge, trains and baby dolls. if Daddy didn't think it was fun, he would not buy it no matter how we begged. BUT we had not problems getting non traditional "girl" toys. and personally, I think G.I Joe had MUCH cooler stuff than Barbie, and he was happy to share his grenades with her and Midge.

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  28. As kids my brother and I would play with our Hot Wheel City. The cars would be people (or occasionally my earrings would ride around in the cars being the people) and they would live in the various garages of the City.

    And no one thought it was weird that I would play with cars or that he would play a version of house.

    Nowadays when my nephew comes over he likes to drive his cars around my daughter's dollhouse while she's off shooting her brothers with Nerf guns and borrowing Mommy's Nerf mace to beat them up.

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  29. Marissa - Teachable moment time!! :) Your story also makes me think it's pretty dumb of toy companies to market stuff ONLY to boys or girls, when they could get twice the customer base for a given toy if they market it to both sexes. One reason I'm glad I have a boy and a girl is that they'll get both "kinds" of toys for birthday gifts, etc, and then they can both play with them.

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  30. Back when my wife was pregnant with JSL, we decided to buy NHL a baby boy doll to play with (and practice being a big brother with). It was a long, hard search, but we finally found one boy doll.

    Fast forward a few years and JSL wanted a baby like his brother has. So we searched and searched and searched... and couldn't find a single baby boy doll. (I challenge you to find a baby boy doll. Go ahead. Try it.)

    Do retailers think only girls want to play with dolls and then only with girl dolls? Are there no girls who want their very own "baby brother" to play with? Are boys banned from any aisle with pink in it? (Luckily, JSL decided not to be fussy and said he liked one of the girl dolls.)

    Meanwhile, I recently hosted a Batman party and gave one of the girls who attended a Batman action figure. I saw no reason why a girl shouldn't play with Batman while a boy plays with a doll. (She loved the action figure.)

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  31. McDonalds still has "boy" happy meal toys and "girl" happy meal toys. If I'm going through the drive through, I'll say I have a boy, and it's usually no problem. If we're in the restaurant, and the cashier sees my daughter, they usually give us the "girl" toy, regardless of what we asked for. It drives my daughter crazy. I've taught her to politely go back and ask to trade the doll for a truck. I really wish we lived in a society where catalogues like this were the norm, and not the exception.

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  32. When I was still in gradeschool, I had one teacher who would give us a choice(small) in what we were allowed to color from coloring books(she'd photocopy the pages). Boys were automatically given the vehicles to color, and girls(unless they requested to color the cool motorcycle) were given saccharine baby animals with happy flowers. It always disturbed her that half the girls,including me, refused the baby animals.

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  33. When I was pregnant with #1, we decided not to find out boy/girl until she was born. Therefore, anyone who wanted to buy us clothes ahead of time had to get the green/yellow ones. Once you get out of newborn, though, it's difficult to find cute, neutral clothes. I'm not big on the pink, frilly stuff, but it is so hard to find clothes that aren't "look, I'm a girl - I wear pink sparkly stuff" or "look, I'm a boy - I wear sports themed and skull stuff". But I think I've lost the battle for now. My 3 year old is asking if Santa can bring her some pretty flower headbands for her hair (that is cut short). I blame the girls at her daycare that are perpetually dressed in 7 layers of shiny leggings, tutus, puppy shirts and pigtails.

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  34. This is great. I'm from the UK, and this year I've been pretty seriously wound up by Christmas gift catalogues (and in some cases, stores!) where the gifts are divided into 'for men' and 'for women', and I find myself significantly more interested in the men's gifts than those 'for' my own gender. I've been very impressed by some examples though - John Lewis's catalogue is amazing, and the pages are titled 'for gadget lovers', 'for fashion fans' etc and are gender-irrelevant.

    How sad though, that this is the exceptional case which we celebrate, and not the norm…

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  35. I love this and wish all toy ads would be this way. When my son was young he liked to play princess and wore Hello Kitty Mary Janes for a year. I didn't think anything of it and now in proper tween fashion he is horrified that I have pictures haha. Kids should just be allowed to be kids and explore and learn :)

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  36. In 1970 Santa asked my daughter (then 3 years old) what she wanted for Christmas. She told him a kitten, perfume, and a football.
    The kitten wasn't going to happen thanks to the anti indoor pet rule, but she did get the perfume and a football.

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  37. This is very important, and something we deal with in our house every flipping day. I have 2 boys, Caden (4) and Brady (3) Caden loves "girly" things. He loves playing house, helping vacuum, baking, playing dress up, and My Little Pony. His little brother likes Star Wars, TMNT, and Transformers... they couldn't be any more different. The problems start whenever we go out, Caden has a Rapunzel doll that he loves and when we go shopping she comes with us. If he decided to wear a Cars or Star Wars outfit that day we get looks and comments about letting our boy play with dolls, but if he's wearing Hello Kitty people assume he's a girl and make comments about his Mohawk. He loves coming with me to get his nails done and he loves looking "pretty" I don't see anything wrong with that but I worry every day about what's going to happen when he starts school next year. He's coming on a cruise with us next year and I'm worried the other kids in camp will make fun of him. He's learned how to read and he doesn't understand why all the toys he likes are under the "girls" sign. There's so much pressure to take away his dresses, dolls, & ponies and it's just not fair for him. He's a good boy whether he wants princesses or not.

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  38. Re: boy dolls, Manhattan Toy finally came out with a male doll to go along with their popular Baby Stella Peach. Neither Stella or the unimaginatively named
    Doll Boy are anatomically correct, so what seems to distinguish them are eyelashes on Stella and gender-stereotypical clothes. I hope soon "Doll Boy" will get a better name as well as an older version (like Stella's) in brunette or with "beige" skin.

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  39. Who remembers this one from Free to Be You and Me?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lshobg1Wt2M

    William Wants a Doll.

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  40. I do have to say, as someone who works in a toy store, it is VERY hard to get away from gender stereotypes in toys. Not only does most toy packaging scream one gender or the other (especially all the pinkified girl stuff), but a lot of customers just expect you to have it organized that way. And there are always customers who freak out if you try and show them something for their boy that looks too girly.

    That being said I always love it when we get in gender-neutral stuff, or when we get in a parent who is looking for science sets for their girls and pink lunchboxes for their little boys. I think people make too much of a fuss about this kind of thing. Kids will have fun with most any toy, so long as we let them be.

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  41. American girl has twin baby dolls, you can get the baby boy separate too. Maybevthey will come out with joy dolls too. I tried very hard to buy things that were gender neutral. But it is hard. Why does a kitchen set have to be pink? I bought one in bright colors. Primary colors. My kids are all grown, I am going to he a grandma someday, I will FIND gender nuetral colors, I will.

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  42. I think American Girl catalog has the baby boy dolls. I always tried to buy the primary color version on any of the big toys. Our little kitchen was primary colors. I remember the Fisher Price Zoo, that was a wonderful gender neutral toy. Kids are all grown up. I have 4 kids, two boys, two girls. one is a chemical Engineer, one is s scientific researcher, one works in a factory and one is a nurse. Guess who is who? LOL

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  43. As someone who was born in a female body and is trans*, it's great to see toys being marketed as gender neutral. People so often forget that not every child's gender matches the body they're born in or even that not all children fall in the gender binary at all, so it's hard to watch kids' toys get assigned just along the gender binary so frequently.

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  44. Growing up, my parents tried to give us "opposite sex" toys once in awhile; I once got a Tonka truck, and my brother had a Ken doll with the Ferrari to play Barbies with me. But I never cared much about that truck and my little brother only played Barbies with me when I made him because he was desperate top play with someone. So I really think one should go with what their kid loves without trying to force the "opposite sex" toys on them just to be politically correct. My two cents.

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  45. My son loves making new creations in the kitchen, but was afraid to ask for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas last year because "it's a girl toy"...

    Well, he got that Easy Bake Oven - we covered the box with pictures of famous male chefs... Duff, Alton Brown, Gordon Ramsey, etc. I'm so glad we did - my boy makes mean brownie ball treats on pretzel sticks, lemme tell you.

    The toy stores that break out into "boy" and "girl" toy sections could double their target audiences if they would just think outside the box!

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  46. I do so wish other toy catalogs would do this (and apparently this one in all countries!), as well as Walmart getting rid of their "Boy" and "Girl" signs, and Happy Meals get rid of their boy and girl selections. I am a parent of two boys, so maybe I am just biased, but I really think it is even more difficult for a boy to play with "girl" toys than it is for a girl to play with "boy" toys. A little girl playing with a Nerf gun or dressed as Batman is endearing and supported; a little boy playing with Barbies and wearing a tu-tu is often seen as weird (by many people, obviously not everyone!).

    Also, I really, really want that castle!

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  47. Good for them! I'm lucky enough to have a little 4 year old girl who dresses up like Cinderella and plays in the dirt with her toy dinosaurs. She will adamantly tell you that RED, not pink, is her favorite color and that my brother is the best uncle in the world because he "sword fights" her with the toy lightsabers he bought for my niece. I say let kids play with what THEY want to play with instead of picking from the "pink aisle" or the "blue aisle."

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  48. I love seeing ads that look like this!!! My oldest is 3 and last year at Christmas my Mother in Law called me so excited because they found a neutral colored toy kitchen for him. Now many days I find him wearing one of his many super hero costumes pretending to bake a cake. Then he'll walk over to his toy work bench and grab a wrench and exclaim that the oven is broken and needs to be fixed. His two favorite shows are Super Hero Squad and My Little Ponies and I love that my big strong burly husband watches MLP with him on a regular basis. He likes for me to paint one of his nails when I paint mine but he often asks for my "hulk gween" instead of what color I'm using at the time. We are thinking about buying him an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas this year since he loves the app on our iPad. I just hope my 3 month old turns out to be as well rounded as my oldest! Thanks for sharing these, it truly made my day!

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  49. Well, foo-- Anonymous above beat me to the point I was gonna make (SO glad I scrolled through first!); why are we STILL dealing with this as a society nearly 40 years after "Free To Be You And Me" did the marvelous segment, "William's Doll"?? Toys are toys, no matter the gender of the child, and parents, you are CONSUMERS; why are you letting companies still get away with this crapola by giving them your money along with your acceptance?

    What I find equally distressing is that 40 years later, mothers my age and younger are still pumping their daughters full of pretty pink princesses, instead of toys and activities that encourage intelligence and a career?! Back in my day, there was a HUGE push to have Barbie be everything else besides being a "fashion model", from pilot to doctor to astronaut. Now it's just princess crap, not even a working woman like a model, but a princess to be given things and adored, nothing more; no wonder so many little girls I encounter nowadays are spoiled little screamers, entirely in PINK.

    Cheers, and stay strong, nerdsisters!

    Storm

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  50. An argument can be made that it is society's changing norms that forced the toy company's hand. Watch dog groups like that didn't EXIST in our parents' day after all.

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  51. I have two little girls that love legos and duplos. My oldest is very girly and LOVES the new friend legos but she also loves her Toy Story legos. My youngest loves My Little Pony but Buzz Lightyear has been her favorite since she was one. I also teach preschool and my little boys all love to play with the dolls and kitchen stuff just as much as the tools and cars. When I was growing up my brother played barbies with me and I played He-Man or GI Joes with him. Toys are toys, that's how it should be.

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  52. So I heard about this catalogue weeks ago (since I'm Swedish), but I've never heard the name "Top Toy" before the rest of the world became aware of it. I actually had to research it to find out that's a company that owns BR and Toys'R'Us, meaning that the TWO biggest toy chains in Sweden have gender neutral catalogues. Even more awesome, I think. ^^

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  53. "There are no rules when playing dragons and castles." This is my new life motto.

    I agree that it would have been lovely if the company had done it on it's own, but I'm pretty happy that it's been done at all.

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  54. Has anyone else heard about the pre-school teacher who took away all the toys in his classroom and replaced them with cardboard boxes? He wanted to foster imagination with the kids. The kids don't miss the toys.
    Just goes to show you that often the box is more fun than the toy.

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  55. I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment without such a stark contrast in "girl" toys and "boy" toys, so anytime someone brings this stuff up I am flummoxed. My older sister, brother, and myself used to all play together. Sometimes it was outdoors with sports equipment, other times it was inside. We'd throw pillows on the floor for tables and play restaurant, raid my nana's extensive shoe collection for shoe store, bring in dolls to the doctor and stuffed animals to the vet, take turns playing teacher, set up folding chairs to play road trip, and gather the Barbies, GI Joe's, TMNT action figures for one massive playtime. So I don't worry that much about children getting stuck in gender-role playtime that much. The thing that keeps me up at night is the lack of imaginative play.

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  56. This post and everyone's stories reminded me of a Maximumble comic so I thought I'd share.

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  57. I love this! My co-worker's twin grandsons are 3 and do some modeling. One of them was in the KMart Christmas ad playing with a toy kitchen. I thought that was great and commented on it, only for her to tell me that her boys really do like playing with their toy kitchen.

    And my 2 year old niece asked for a truck for Christmas.

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