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The Conflict Between Ken And Action Man

May 25, 2008
Did you know that the Barbie dolls launched way back in 1959? Since then they have sold over three billion dolls to date. That's a lot of Barbie in the world - one between two for every single man, woman and child living on planet Earth at this moment. Every single person in the UK could have fifty of them if they wanted. In fact, if we took every Barbie doll that had rolled out of the factory since their inception, they would stretch right around the globe not once, not twice, but a full three and a half times. They seem to be popular.

Quite why this particular doll should have proved so popular is hard to say - perhaps it's the absurdly idealistic glamour, the accessories, or simply the fact that you aren't deemed to be a proper girl if you didn't at least have one Barbie doll during your formative years.

Interestingly, the Ken dolls, Barbie's partner, have proved just as popular, and yet still only with girls. Boys are still keen on the Action Man figurines, but Ken seems to have been left on the shelf as far as boys are concerned. Is this an image problem that Ken seems to have?

What exactly is it that makes Action Man a popular boys' toy, and Ken a definite no go area. Giving a boy a Ken doll would not be received with grateful thanks. Maybe it's the fact that Ken doesn't come with a range of gadgets designed to obliterate the enemy. Instead, he comes with a smart sports jacket. Possibly it is because Ken doesn't come with an all terrain land vehicle with side cannons and laser rifles. He comes with a neat little sports car with a roll down top.

Or could it be something far more deep seated and dark? Action Man comes with a range of related figurines - all male, and built with muscles so big one wonders how they ever manage to bend their arm to scratch their head with all that flesh in the way. Ken, on the other hand, comes with Barbie. An allegedly cute girl with an impossible figure, a range of accessories and posable arms and legs. Someone worked out a while back that if Barbie was real, she'd actually have a job walking and would probably need a wheel chair. So, this image problem we have with Ken, could it simply be that, dare I suggest it, he has a girlfriend?

What right-minded boy would spare a second glance to someone who has time for a girl? There's a world out there to save. A world of muscle and blood, spaceships and evil warlords with guns that fire sponge darts at least three feet. To own a Ken is to accept that girls are almost equal to boys, and what young boy would ever wish to be associated with such a concept?

Gender stereotyping? Nothing changes that much, does it? Of course, the question about where these gender concepts and assumptions come from is another matter. Possibly they are encouraged by family, or by their friends. Books, television and even the style of toys advertised, and the way they are advertised, can all play a part. At least we know one thing. All boys will eventually learn a hard lesson. Defeating an evil warlord, conquering the empire and saving the planet is easy. Understanding girls? Now the challenge begins!
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, dolls, and video games. You will find the best marketplace for kids toys, dolls, and used video games at these sites for kids toys, Barbie, Action Man, dolls, and used video games.
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