I suspect my own childhood experience of playing with toy cars as well as Barbies may have been out of the ordinary in the 1980s – certainly my younger sister never showed much interest in joining me for a few laps on the Scalextric. However, it seems as if girls now aren’t all that fussed about traditional gendering of toys.
In a focus group carried out by toy manufacturer Martin Yaffe, where children were invited to put this year’s top Christmas toys through their paces, seven out of 10 girls chose to play with toys “designed for boys”.
The girls preferred Bob the Builder to Barbie and Bratz – and over half of the parents at the focus group were so impressed with their daughters’ infatuation with the Bob the Builder Snaptrax set with working car wash and dryer that they’re prepared to cough up for it.
Kristian Johnson, Marketing Manager at Martin Yaffe, said: “It seems that stereotypes applied to toys in the past such as dolls for girls and cars for boys no longer apply – opening up a whole new element of choice for parents when shopping for their daughters this Christmas!
“We wanted to hear directly from children exactly which toys will be at the top of their Christmas lists this year, and surprisingly found that the majority of girls preferred playing with the toys designed with boys in mind, from Bob the Builder to Fireman Sam.”
According to Michael Carrington, creative director of the BBC’s flagship children’s channel CBeebies, this isn’t surprising – girls are happy to watch programmes with male and female lead characters, so it follows that they’re happy to play with traditionally male- and female-gendered toys. It would be interesting to see if little boys are equally happy to play with Barbies and Bratz.