Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Lisa Belkin blogs here about the Barbie controversy; she includes a very thoughtful essay from Peggy Orenstein, frequent New York Times contributor and author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," which details the princess/Barbie/gender-specific marketing debate. Like Orenstein, I'm wary of cheesy, sexist products in theory and all for moderation in practice: I wouldn't buy Barbies myself, but I didn't object when a well-meaning friend gave Tessa a few of them. (Of course, her lack of interest in the dolls makes it a total non-issue.) In the comments section of Belkin's blog post, one reader suggests Playmobil toys as a girl-friendly but non-yucky princess alternative. All I know is that Playmobil is well loved in our house. Before Charlie discovered the cross-branded world of Legos, he spent hours setting up Playmobil worlds of pirates, police, and Romans. (He's since moved on to all things Lego and Star Wars. That's a whole other story. Resistance is futile.) And now Tessa is equally involved with what she calls "magical land" or "royal party" or "animal party," depending on which Playmobil sets she takes out. It looks good on our coffee table:

Wouldn't you like a tiny rabbit hutch and a pink-maned unicorn in your living room?
Playmobil is open-ended and creative, and the variety is amazing. You can get sets of animals, a hospital, a grocery store, dinosaurs, bank robbers, and—for the girlishly inclined—fairies and, yes, princesses. One category is missing, however: Charlie's been hoping for Playmobil samurai and ninja for years now.

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