Those tiny green toy soldier toys have been a childhood staple for decades, and now they're about to get a much needed makeover. Six year old Vivian Lord from Little Rock, Ark., noticed that her toys were all men, and that bothered her. While women make up a large percentage of those enlisted in the military, Vivian couldn't help but notice there weren't any female toy soldiers, so she decided to do something about it.
Vivian told NBC News that she decided to write a letter to Jeff Imel, the owner of BMC Toys, the company that manufactures the green army men. “There are girls in the Army, but they didn’t make any girl Army men,” Vivian said in a recent interview. “So I wondered why.” She wrote Imel a letter simply stating, "Why do you not make girl army men?" she wrote, adding, "I would play with them every day."
Imel said he was moved by Vivian's letter, and understood where the young girl was coming from having sisters of his own who were often disappointed when certain toys weren't available for them. Imel had actually been working on a line of female figurines when he received Vivian's letter. Thanks in part to Vivian's letter Imel is moving ahead with female army figurines in four different poses that will be available by Christmas of next year.
Green Army Women will be available by Christmas 2020 in four different poses, including a soldier holding a bazooka, ready to launch.— Life Kit (@NPRLifeKit) September 11, 2019
"The bazooka is always a favorite," says Jeff Imel, president of BMC Toys.https://t.co/n9qSnjOBKV
Imel told NPR that Vivian's letter meant a lot to him. "It was a heartfelt letter," Imel said. "And it reminded me of being a kid and always wanting that toy that you couldn't get in the gumball machine," he said. "So I really looked into it." He also said that he's been surprised by the feedback he's received since Vivian's letter went public. "What's been really surprising to me is how many women have contacted me since Vivian's story aired on national television to say they wish they had little Green Army Women when they were children back in the '60s," Imel said.
Imel also added that he's his company's only full time employee, and that while he often contemplated adding female figurines the budget always dictated whether or not it could happen. "I have to pay the sculptor. I have to pay the tooling. I have to make a down payment on production," he said. "If it's coming from China, it's on a boat for five weeks. By the time you figure out the cost of everything involved in making an original set of plastic toy figures in this size," he said. "It starts around the cost of a modest new car." Imel started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his new initiative.
Vivian was thrilled to hear that she'll be able to have female toy soldiers to play with next year. "It made me so happy," she said. "I might just get the boy army men out of the way and just play with the girls."