2.20.2008

8 Million New Toys I Want for My Kids...And One I Definitely Don't

I have managed to survive an entire day of Toy Fair. This is no small feat.

The website describes it as the largest international toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Considering that it actually takes up the entire Western Hemisphere, I'm not surprised.

Imagine aisles and aisles (and aisles and aisles) of toy manufacturers, few of which design their booths by the adage "less is more." At any given moment, you can be assaulted by exhibitors in 6-foot tall character suits, Lolita-like models styled to look like a doll they carry, overgrown frat boys-turned-marketers tearing down crowded aisles on the latest greatest scooters, and the smaller inventors reaching out to you -- literally, reaching out and grabbing you -- and pulling you into their booth for a demo. And that's saying nothing of the sensory assault in the electronics aisles, which I mostly avoided.

Lord I'm getting old.

But as the diligent shopping blog co-editor that I am, I persevered.

While it was great to find so many incredible new games and dolls and toys to feature (like Boomwackers, although I don't think they appreciated me pointing to their celeb press page and asking whether it was the Boomwhackers that killed Boomwhacker-lover Anna Nicole Smith) it was particularly cool to meet the people behind companies I already love. There's something so awesome about knowing who makes the stuff you buy for your kids.

One stand-out was the adorable little Asian grandma inventor of multicultural anatomically correct dolls, who just cashed out so she could go back to designing more and spending time with her five-year old twin grandchildren. She even created a down syndrome doll, God love her, just because someone wrote her and asked for one.

"It won't sell," she said. "But I don't care. I made it anyway."

But then there was this one company...

(Oh, there's always one, isn't there.)

I was instantly drawn in by the big sign that said EcoDolls. Eco Dolls! What could be bad about something called Eco Dolls?

Promising!

"So what are their faces made out of?"

"Vinyl PVC."

Um.

It was painful watching the guy squirm as I grilled him on what exactly made his dolls so "eco," or, as the website puts it, "the most environmentally friendly dolls on the market."

Environmentally friendly dolls made from vinyl PVC, packaged in huge boxes with plastic windows, shipped over from China, which uses like no fuel, really. China's close!

Apparently the answer has something to do with the fact that their clothes and bodies are made of cotton. "Well, we can't do everything," he told me. "So we just make small and positive changes where we can."

Which is...

cotton clothing.

"Organic cotton?"

"No."

I guess they're hoping that moms don't ask questions. That we're all just so stupid and eager to jump on the eco trend that we're happy to buy some vinyl pvc made-in-China dolls for our kids because the dolls are wearing like, tooooootally cute outfits with like, cute trees and stuff on them which will like sooooo encourage our kids to like care about like animals and oxygen and stuff.

(Oh, if only real environmental crusaders like Kristen or Izzy or Cristina were there.)

I suppose the books that come with the dolls about kids planting trees or strapping themselves to oil tankers with Greenpeace or whatever are decent enough, if not printed on recycled paper as they should be.

But what finally made me realize that the manufacturer was completely delusional was this blurb on their postcards:
The Dolls aren't over-glamorized. We designed each to look like a 10 or 11 year old girl with fun, fashionable clothing and age-appropriate hair and make-up.
Ladies, meet your average 10 year old:



Hold me.


49 Comments:

Blogger PunditMom said...

Yeah, PunditGirl looks like that every day when she goes to school. Oh, but she's only 8!

2/20/08, 9:46 AM  
Blogger AnotherMomCreation said...

Huh... I know a few 10 year olds, they look nothing like that.

Yeah, I'd be scared too.

Thanks for sharing this, I know to steer clear of them and pass the word.

2/20/08, 9:52 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I'm land-manatee sized and uncomfortable at 32 weeks pregnant but I think I'll just keep our daughter inside. This is just too much.

2/20/08, 9:59 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Do 10-year olds wear make-up?!?!

I mean, besides everything else wrong with this....

10 year olds? Make-up?

2/20/08, 10:19 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Danielle, exactly! To say nothing of the uberbrows that would look better on RuPaul than a 10 year old.

2/20/08, 10:24 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Make-up, supernaturally long legs, wavy sex hair, and pouty lips. Sure- one more great role model to give to impressionable young ladies.
fr-eco dolls.

2/20/08, 11:18 AM  
Blogger Mama Drama Jenny, the Bloggess said...

When did little girls start plucking out all their eyelashes and drawing them back in?

Fail.

2/20/08, 11:34 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

And here I was, focused on the clothes (which look very much like what 10-year-olds wear out here).

There was a time when there were fashions for little girls and fashions for teens and fashions for adults and they didn't mix. Now they just design one style and scale it down. And we buy. If we didn't, they would stop doing it.

2/20/08, 11:50 AM  
Blogger Tootsie said...

I wasn't aware that all ten-year olds look like college co-eds. Silly me.

2/20/08, 11:50 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I swear those dolls look older than me. No small feat, I should point out.

Do 10 year olds pluck their eyebrows into oblivion as well?

Shame on that company!

But that other doll company? The cutest little dolls ever. I want to buy them all.

2/20/08, 12:18 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

Um, there's such a thing as "age appropriate make-up" for ten-year-olds?

2/20/08, 12:40 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

I love those anatomically correct dolls! How great is that woman?!?!

As for the Eco Dolls... I can't even speak. Just shake my head.

Thanks for the report, Liz! I love you for going to the show (I would die first) and providing such great commentary.

2/20/08, 12:48 PM  
Blogger JMC said...

There's age appropriate makeup for a 10-11- year-old?

2/20/08, 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Damn, I wished my hair looked so fabulous when I was 10...actually I wish my hair looked so fabulous now

2/20/08, 1:18 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Okay I confess my 6 year old dresses like the pink and green outfit LOL.

But umm That's a doll to look like a ten year old? Which one?

The one raised on dairy chock full of BGH????

AAAACCCKKKK

Well at least they don't look like hookers. Exactly.

And good for you giving the EcoDoll guy the whatfor.

Now about that grandma...she sounds awesome.

2/20/08, 1:22 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

what about the star wars section???? how did it look?!?!!

2/20/08, 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Jerseygirl89 said...

The Eco part must be the fact that since those girls are growing at approximately twice the going rate (okay, maybe they only a 18, but still) they'll use up less resources?

Love the story about that Grandma. I must buy those dolls!

2/20/08, 2:11 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

I know! They're vegans.

2/20/08, 2:33 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Boomwhackers. Now I know what I'm getting Tacy for her birthday.

2/20/08, 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Mir said...

Well, other than the creepy ginormous foreheads, sure, that looks exactly like my daughter and her ilk.

I mean, after the aliens return them. (The aliens apparently took them to the Uggs store! Wow!)

2/20/08, 2:48 PM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

Well, I will say one thing: the average 10-year-old does have a more fashionable wardrobe than I have.

Other than that, most of them still do look like little kids around these parts. Most of them.

2/20/08, 3:26 PM  
Anonymous supertiff said...

i don't have kids...let alone 10 year old kids...but the term 'age-appropriate make-up,' in reference to a 10 year old, almost made me fall out of my chair.

and here i thought i was hip and trendy. my poor (someday in the future) kids...they'll be wearing overalls and pigtaiils til they're 17.

2/20/08, 3:42 PM  
Blogger b said...

1. I hope you are getting a foot/leg massage.
2. Eco Dolls? Well at least they teach these girls to wax that unibrow BEFORE they get their periods. Are they wearing Spanx too, or would that not be environmentally safe?

2/20/08, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

b,

I'm not sure whether I should laugh out loud at the Spanx reference...or coyly admit that I couldn't have powered through Toy Fair without them.

(But then, I'm not 10-11)

2/20/08, 4:08 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

WOWZA...that is an average 10 year old?!??!?!?!?! YEEKS!

2/20/08, 6:08 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

DUDE. The boy doll? With the peen? FREAKS ME OUT.

I'm doomed.

(no comment on the girls. brain can only handle so much gender anxiety)

2/20/08, 6:28 PM  
Blogger Liz@thisfullhouse.com said...

Sensory overload, indeed - just reading about spending your day in the never-ending toy aisle makes me sort of tired - but, then again, I'm trying to stay away from the toy stores, as much as possible, and we are partial to Fuggs (fake-Uggs) at my house.

2/20/08, 7:55 PM  
Blogger PeetsMom said...

Wow. That was shocking. Disturbing and shocking. EcoDolls. Please.

Thanks for writing that up. Will you write about a few good ones or are you saving it for a CoolMomPicks write up?!?!?

2/20/08, 8:02 PM  
Blogger Dana J. Tuszke said...

Yikes. That doll looks like a knock-off Barbie.

Thankfully, we moms have you to thank for going out and doing the hunting for us. I would have lost my mind had I been there listening to that guy speak about his Eco Dolls.

2/20/08, 9:39 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Those Eco Dolls might just be the ugliest toy I've seen in a long time.

And they're more proof that people are willing to slap the "eco" label on anything to try to get an extra buck nowadays. They probably charge more for these dolls for their "cotton" clothing. Sheesh. What a scam.

2/20/08, 11:46 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

The anatomically correct dolls are darn cute. Eco-dolls, not so much.

To think that about a hundred years ago, girls waited to be old enough to "let their skirts down and put their hair up." Age 16, I think? Now, the skirts just go up!

2/21/08, 1:21 AM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

Wow, you got to go to Toy Fair...

Eco-Dolls? Wouldn't a real one just a rock or a hand-me down? That would be a truly Eco friendly doll.

2/21/08, 2:14 AM  
Anonymous LOD said...

The brunette has a worse hairline than I do. The Mean Girls must be having a field day.

2/21/08, 12:16 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Thank you for continuing your crusade against the forces of Toy Evil, Liz.

2/21/08, 3:01 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

If 10 year old girls have 'age appropriate make-up' and look like this, I'm home schooling my boys and prohibiting them from dating until they're 25.

shudder

2/21/08, 4:19 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I'm jealous! I got a press pass offer to the toy fair- Yeah, as if I could go from NASHVILLE. I would have loved to have been there, though. I hope you got lots of um, "samples."

2/21/08, 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya gotta know some company or another was gonna jump on the "yeah, we're saving the world ecologically!" bandwagon. Verbally, anyway (or is that printally?)

Think we can send a letter bomb to that factory in China and blow it up so they can't make anymore?

2/23/08, 11:25 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Yikes, Anon. Little scared here.

2/23/08, 11:27 AM  
Blogger the new girl said...

geezuz.

2/23/08, 9:30 PM  
Blogger Upside Up said...

Actually, I think maybe that logo says "Ecc Dolls." As in "Ecccchhh."

2/24/08, 2:46 PM  
Blogger ~Kat~ said...

I too was at Toy Fair... and although the common theme seemed to be "green" there was not ONE recycling bin for all those super heavy, super glossy catalogs that reps were practically frisbeeing into my hands. That's green?

2/24/08, 3:42 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Kat, excellent point. You should make the suggestion to the TIA for next year.

Sorry I didn't know you were there; would have been nice to grab a beer in the fancy (ha) press area.

2/24/08, 4:41 PM  
Blogger ~Kat~ said...

I didn't know you would be there either! Hell... screw the fancy press box- we could have toasted a free beer (and watched Doug do some seriously some bad karioke) at the Melissa and Doug "sanctuary"

2/24/08, 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Cristina said...

God bless that Grandma. How sweet is she to make those dolls?

As far as the EcoDolls go, that is some serious greenwashing. Lordy.

2/27/08, 1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

checkout www.theearthfriends.com for the true eco dolls!

2/29/08, 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Chris Greenwood said...

Liz,

Wow.

Well, I want to tell you that your feedback is in line with what I heard from a lot of buyers and media at Toy Fair.

Certainly, my intention is not to greenwash. I'm committed to environmental sustainability in my own life and I'm committed to producing a fashion doll that lives up to its name.

Based on the feedback you gave at Toy Fair and that others have given, I wanted to let you know about some changes I'm looking to make:

* sourcing more organic options for the bodies and clothing.
* retooling the faces and heads so the dolls have even less make-up and are more distinct in appearance
* considering a corn-based product for the window of the packaging, which is recyclable as well as compostable.

You know, relative to other choices for fashion dolls on the market, I think we're making some good progress. We've partnered with an environmentally-award winning manufacturer that is in this for the long haul and working to make sure that we're doing right by the little girls who play with this product. And we're using partially-recycled plastics on the head and hands. Even if the changes are small; the significance is that we hope to have an impact on the industry as a whole so other manufacturers think about the sustainability of their products.

I'm committed to doing this right and I value your feedback. If you or your readers have changes or ideas that I should consider, you can email me at info@ecodolls.com

Thank you!

Chris Greenwood
Director, E-Innovative Ideas, LLC
Manufacturer of Eco Dolls

3/4/08, 3:48 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Chris.

I think (as you can see) what moms want is two things:
1. authenticity
2. age appropriateness

The children illustrated in the accompanying books are wonderful. If you could recreate them in some way, using things like pthalate-free vinyl (like petitcollin dolls use), organic clothing sourced from fair trade shops, and partner with a viable environmental organization then you're onto something.

Small changes are fine - but you've set the bar high for yourself with the name Eco Dolls.

Good luck to you.

3/5/08, 9:51 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Nice post

6/21/11, 12:02 AM  
Anonymous skylinesfl said...

Thanks for sharing. I love toy shows, but good catch on finding the one item you want nothing to do with.

4/28/14, 1:43 PM  

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