A toymaker who responded last year to a stern letter of complaint from a young Arkansas girl has released imagery of all-new, female variations of the classic plastic green Army figurines that have occupied toy stores since the 1930s.
Jeff Imel of BMC Toys published an update this week on the toy company’s website, corresponding with the start of Women’s History Month, which included in-process sculptures of a military working dog and handler, a nurse, and Rosie the Riveter perched atop a “We Can Do It!” pedestal.
The new toys, the product of 6-year-old Vivian Lord’s request for green Army women, come in sets of 36 and are expected to be released this October. Eighty-six-piece bucket sets are also available for pre-order.
Lord’s campaign for green equality was first spurred after she noticed the only figurines targeting a girl audience were pink-colored male figurines.
“Why do you not make girl army men?" she wrote.
“Some girls don’t like pink, so please can you make army girls that look like women?"
BMC Toys was one of three companies to receive letters from the flummoxed child but the only to respond.
Imel notified the disgruntled customer that he had been kicking around the idea of manufacturing green women figurines for years. With Lord’s nudge, he subsequently launched a fundraiser in the hopes of acquiring a sum equivalent to “the cost of a modest new car,” he told WNEP News last September.
It didn’t take long for Imel to exceed his funding goal.
“We’re currently at an insane $54,289,” Imel said during a December 2019 Facebook live stream. The toy-maker added that support has come even from senior citizen women who mentioned wanting similar toys during their childhood.
“It has meant a lot to military women who have told me they just want a little bit of recognition,” Imel said during the live stream.
Besides the above prototypes, BMC Toys’ Plastic Army Women set will include figurines in classic poses such as standing, running and kneeling riflemen, prone sniper, grenadier, bazooka operator, radio operator, low crawling soldier, light machine gunner, wounded soldier, combat medic, and more.
“[Women have] served a long time in a lot of roles, and sometimes they feel invisible,” Imel said. “So, hopefully we can [add to] education about women in the military and how important they are. They’ve been, really, the main supporter base for the project. We wouldn’t have gotten the project done without the military women who have supported us.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.