Finally, a new toy store

imaginariumI thought that there were only two types of toy stores in the Netherlands: the one of Blokker (Bart Smit, Intertoys) and the similar Toys2Play, which are well-known for their profuse collection of vulgar plastic toys in similar packages, and besides these stores, a couple of beautiful stores which sell wooden, educative and durable toys and children’s books. But now there is a third player in our country: Imaginarium! The original Spanish chain, which exists for 20 years already, has opened its first establishment in Amstelveen and many will follow. This store wants to differentiate with toys that emphasize education and development and focuses on children from 0 till 9 years old. It mainly sells its own brands. imaginarium2I was in Düsseldorf recently and accidentally I came across an Imaginarium store. Actually you cannot miss it: the windows are so beautiful and inviting for parents and children that you have to stop and take a look…and then the entrances: a big one for the adults and a small one for the children. In the shop there are a lot of original toys for the smallest, like a crawling tunnel, a baby fitness place where the baby can practice its first steps on a mat. But I also found maternity baskets, bed textile and a first set of tableware. I think it is a relief in the world of toys!

Say no to pink girl’s toys from Lego

lego friends babystufLego doesn’t mean harm, but the new Lego Friends products for girls have had a feisty negative reference from the American feministic movement Spark. Sexist and stereotyped is how Spark described these toys. There was even a petition signed by 55.000 people in the United States against these products. There is especially a lot of resistance towards the pink and purple shades and the stereotype settings, like a little kitchen, a beach chair with parasol, a beauty spa and a perfume laboratory. The curving on the Lego dolls, including the breasts, are especially not appreciated. Girls comment by email and social media, stating they also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, want to be creative and love the stories about bad and evil. We have been told a four-year study was conducted on the matter…

Lego seems to be trapped in a classical marketing mistake: put some pink in the mix and it will appeal to all girls and women. According to Marianne van Leeuwen  (author of the book: ‘Mag het iets minder roze’) taught me this spring already that feminizing an existing product is doomed to be a failure most of the time. Of course girls play in a different way, but the researchers of such a big label should have taken into consideration the social desires. And people start to get sick of that pink image related to girls and women. There is also another action group in England, just like Spark: Pinkstinks. Their demonstration has resulted that the big toys chain Hamleys stopped differentiating their segments into boys and girls. It would be nice if also Dutch stores like Bart Smit and Intertoys start questioning the lay-out of their stores: no longer separated by gender, but by types of toys!