Hasbro announced plans for a new line of Nerf girl toys that they will be launching in the Fall. Unsurprisingly, they are pink. Surprisingly – I’m okay with that.
There is definitely something to be said for gender neutral toys. Play is play, and children shouldn’t be forced into stereotypical roles. That being said, when I was a little girl I wanted Barbies and dolls and I loved the color pink. I also liked red, and black and green. If I was into “warrior play” like little girls today may be thanks to movies like The Hunger Games – given the choice between a traditional blue and yellow nerf product and this pretty pink and purple one – I can confidently assert that I would have chosen the pink and purple one.
“I think if anything, we went into this without any stereotypes and instead talked to young girls, found out what they wanted, and then designed a line of products that addressed that opportunity,” he told EW in an interview, saying that Hasbro did research for over three years while creating the line.
Thanks to all that research, Rebelle differs from other Nerf lines in several key ways. The Heartbreaker bow comes with collectable darts bearing different colors and designs; there’s a Rebelle app that allows girls to play collaboratively and encourages teamwork; the bow’s size and ergonomics have been tweaked so that girls as young as 6 can activate it easily.
They lose me with “The Heartbreaker” title because that is pretty stupid. You would never see a boy’s toy with a title that referenced “love” in any way. But I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with making toys like these available. Some girls may like them. Some boys may, too.
I think all of the controversy would disappear if companies just made toys pink, purple, blue or whatever without the need to label them as “for girls” or “for boys.” Manufacture the toy and let the child decide what he/she wants. Then it’s up to parents to be open enough to let their children stray from stereotypes and choose whatever strikes their fancy.