Last year on the Tor Books blog I wrote a piece about how frustrated I was that there were so few decent girl's figures for my daughter to play with. I even challenged a toy buyer I knew from one of the major chains as to why this was the case - she seemed not to have really given it much thought but suspected it may well be because the toy makers thought they wouldn't sell. I simply couldn't believe that there weren't a bunch of parents like me who refused to buy the generic and seriously scrawny fashonista dolls available in the general high street.
I did find, after recommendations, the fabulous Lottie dolls. With accessories of all the things my daughter loves doing, a scooter, a bodyboard, it's not all just about fashion and horses. Realistic dolls for real girls.
I also found a bunch of my old toys in the attic from twenty years or so ago. Lego (generic, no pink), a group of Jem dolls (remember Jem and the Holograms?), and my Golden Girl dolls (Guardians of the Gemstones rather than the 80s sitcom!).
I gave them all to my daughter who loved them. And I thought how sad it was that the 80s seemed to be more progressive in terms of children's equality in toys than we are now in a decade where we're supposed to be so much more enlightened.
So you can imagine my delight when I saw this announcement by DC Comics about their partnership with Mattel to produce a line of Superheroine figures. I hedged my enthusiasm realising of course that Mattel were also behind Barbie and Monster High (which being a fan of genre I'd also had such high hopes for). I had visions of emaciated teenagers in skimpy outfits. More interested in the latest fashion-trends rather than saving the world. I'm thrilled to see how wrong I was when I saw the announcement on Twitter a few days ago revealing the new-look dolls.
Designed by women with lots of input from girls they look healthier and far more down-to-earth than I had hoped for. No high heels, no skimpy outfits but instead practical clothing and low make-up - they feel a much better fit to what I want my daughter to be growing up with than what's currently on offer. With the addition of a supporting website and a forthcoming cartoon series (which I truly hope will be more along the lines of traditional superhero cartoons rather than concentrating too much on the traumas of high school) - this is actually a package I can get behind. What's so sad is that's it's taken so long to get here!
I really hope this is the start of things to come. Abolish the pink aisles, open it up - if boys want to play with baby dolls - hurrah. And if girls want cars and dumper trucks - they should have access to them. The funny thing was when I was a kid there were just toys - and you picked out what you thought looked cool. There weren't really toys for girls and toys for boys. I wonder when this happened and why. There should never have been gender divides on the toy store floor (or anywhere else for that matter). I hope when my daughter is my age they're a relic of the past. Sadly, I think that's unlikely to be the case.