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?
“So what are their faces made out of?”
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.”
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.
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: