These are Squinkies: colorful, adorably-designed, highly collectible mini-figures. They are awesome all-around, and hugely popular with children.
Sorry, I should have said “They are hugely popular with boys and girls.”
Y’see, Squinkies is one of those toys designed by people who think gender role enforcement is a cardinal rule in toy design and marketing. And they’re hardcore about it, like H. P. Lovecraft was hardcore about not mixing races. You can’t even view all of their products on the same site: you have to go to one site for boys’ Squinkies, and another, completely different site for girls’ Squinkies. Typing Squinkies.com takes you straight to one or the other; before this, when you went to that url, the first thing that greeted you was a pair of doors that said “BOYS ONLY” and “GIRLS ONLY”.
I’m no spittin’, yowlin’ Social Justice Warrior. I’m really not. I’m a rational person in every respect. But is all this really necessary? Do they really think there’s no such thing as a boy who likes Disney, or a girl who likes superheroes? Even Popples didn’t do this back in the 80’s: Popples came in all colors, and you could pick the one you liked most and the company wouldn’t judge you. I had the pink one, back when I hadn’t been to public school yet and thus hadn’t learned I wasn’t allowed to like pink.
It’s my major gripe with the Squinkies brand, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense that a toy company would try so hard to make people insecure about their gender identity at such a young age in 2016. And it doesn’t make sense to me as a business move, either. Polly Pocket would be bigger than ever if they had marketed it to everybody from the beginning, instead of strictly for girls, and then briefly having a “boys, too” stint with Mighty Max. Polly and Max could easily have been a duo who did all sorts of cool stuff together: exploring cool houses, having fantasy adventures, going insane in realms of horror, and cosplaying whatever licenses Bluebird could get their hands on at the time. Like a new Barbie and Ken who didn’t make boys feel gay for playing with them.
Swedish toys don’t have this problem. They show boys and girls playing with all their stuff, from kitchen sets to nerf guns. Hell, Easy Bake Oven’s creators finally wised up in 2012. Marketing campaigns like Squinkies should already be a thing of the past.
Then again, I’m not a marketing person. Maybe prejudice really is the ultimate sales tool. Or is it? I got these for mom’s prize box in her first grade classroom, and she does exactly what I would do: throws them all into the box together regardless of whether they’re aimed at boys or girls. And y’know what? The kids don’t always pick the ones they’re expected to, despite the website’s propaganda-like insistence. Squinkies creators should pay more attention to the kids and less to their marketing stooges.
EDIT: It was awful nice of the Star Wars marketing idiots to prove me right on the business front.
“An action figure of the lead chick? Don’t make me laugh. Boys like Star Wars, and boys play with action figures, and boys don’t like playing with girl characters. Right?”
*movie comes out, lead chick is the most featured and most popular character*