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Monday, November 26, 2007

Bob vs. Barbie


by Tracee Sioux

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 over the girls’ alternatives.

Around 70% of girls under six admit that boys’ toys are what they really want, according to a press release put out by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder toys.

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.

The girls were given their choice between Bratz and Barbies and Bob and other toys marketed to boys. The study was done in the United Kingdom, but it stands to reason that American girls might feel similarly.

The top five picks were:
No.1 – Bob the Builder Snaptrax Garage & Car Wash set (picture of electronic sounds vehicle wash) – Girls loved working the working carwash and dryer.

No.2 – Oddbodz – The girls enjoyed playing with the colourful characters and vehicles that could be dismantled to create crazy new ones.
No 3 – Remote Control Scrambler – Girls particularly enjoyed mastering this easy to operate Scrambler, from hit pre-school TV show Bob the Builder.
No.4 – Bob the Builder Tool Bench – This was a surprising favourite with the girls who enjoyed emulating their hero Bob.
No.5 – Fireman Sam Remote Control Jupiter – This toy held its own, proving that kids still love traditional role models such as fire-fighters.

Read the whole press release. Keep in mind, this study was conducted by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder, so the boy toys were all made by Martin Yaffe.

I think we should test the theory though. Giving traditionally male toys to our daughters certainly can't hurt them.

5 comments:

Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter said...

This would not surprise me one bit. It's funny, because all of the other most-wanted-toys research that has been coming out has put Barbie, Bratz, and Hannah Montana as girls #1 picks.

Tracee said...

I would be interested in seeing that research.

My hypothesis is this: what girls ASK for and what they PLAY with given the two toys side by side may be different.

Girls (like everyone else) buy into marketing and they see a lot of marketing for Bratz, Barbi and the Hannah machine. They know that's what their "supposed" to ask for because they are girls.

However, if they have a Barbi House and Bob's Tool bench - I betcha they put them together and play with them both.

That said, Ainsley asked for video games last year and rarely plays with them.

JayMonster said...

I have a number of problems with this.

First, they don't say what toys they put them up against. Give the child the choice of a toy that "does something" vs. one that doesn't, and any child will pick the interactive ones.

This goes the other way as well. Give a boy a choice between a GI Joe doll (just the doll) and a Barbie "playset" with interactive parts and the boys will probably pick the playset.

For the record, I do believe in knocking down gender roles. However, a lot of it still depends on the child (nature vs. nurture). When my daughter asked for a "Home Depot" set for Christmas a couple of years back, "Santa" was happy to oblige. However by New Years it was "done" never to see the light of day again (despite numerous attempts to rekindle her interest). Whereas the Polly Pockets which my sister (unfortunately) purchased her, and we actively discourage her playing with, continue to get a workout on a regular basis.

I also would be wary of any research published by the beneficiary (in this case maker of Bob the Builder). But I am cynical like that.

Simply put, give a choice and let them decide. I think lately people have been trying too hard to swing things the other way, which still keeps it out of balance.

Tracee said...

I agree Jaymonster. There are some obvious problems with the study. They only used 10 girls. They could have handed them an electronic cool car wash and one naked Barbi doll to choose from. It's a study done by the manufacturer for a Christmas news release.

This is definately NOT accurate science.

However, I think it does speak to a positive shift. The manufacturer of Bob the Builder wants the girl Christmas market. If you've ever went to the store trying to find a neutral toy for your daughter, you know it's hard to find one that isn't a gender stereotype.

I think it's great that Bob is going to court the girl market. And I think press releases like this will encourage parents, who might otherwise not think to give boy toys, to try giving a less stereotypical toy to the girls on their list.

Whether the girl plays with them or not. Funny how hard that is to control isn't it?

Jule said...

When I was a kid I had zero interest in dolls and I never had a Barbie. My younger brother and I played with Star Wars toys and LEGOs. My Mom says she was totally disappointed that we never got to do the dollhouse thing together, but kudos to her for letting me play my own way.

Now that I have a daughter, I'll be interested to see what toys she gravitates to. My in-laws will load her down with girlie stuff, I'm sure, but I'd be perfectly happy to get her a Bob the Builder.

Provided it wasn't made in China, that is.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bob vs. Barbie


by Tracee Sioux

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 over the girls’ alternatives.

Around 70% of girls under six admit that boys’ toys are what they really want, according to a press release put out by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder toys.

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.

The girls were given their choice between Bratz and Barbies and Bob and other toys marketed to boys. The study was done in the United Kingdom, but it stands to reason that American girls might feel similarly.

The top five picks were:
No.1 – Bob the Builder Snaptrax Garage & Car Wash set (picture of electronic sounds vehicle wash) – Girls loved working the working carwash and dryer.

No.2 – Oddbodz – The girls enjoyed playing with the colourful characters and vehicles that could be dismantled to create crazy new ones.
No 3 – Remote Control Scrambler – Girls particularly enjoyed mastering this easy to operate Scrambler, from hit pre-school TV show Bob the Builder.
No.4 – Bob the Builder Tool Bench – This was a surprising favourite with the girls who enjoyed emulating their hero Bob.
No.5 – Fireman Sam Remote Control Jupiter – This toy held its own, proving that kids still love traditional role models such as fire-fighters.

Read the whole press release. Keep in mind, this study was conducted by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder, so the boy toys were all made by Martin Yaffe.

I think we should test the theory though. Giving traditionally male toys to our daughters certainly can't hurt them.

5 comments:

Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter said...

This would not surprise me one bit. It's funny, because all of the other most-wanted-toys research that has been coming out has put Barbie, Bratz, and Hannah Montana as girls #1 picks.

Tracee said...

I would be interested in seeing that research.

My hypothesis is this: what girls ASK for and what they PLAY with given the two toys side by side may be different.

Girls (like everyone else) buy into marketing and they see a lot of marketing for Bratz, Barbi and the Hannah machine. They know that's what their "supposed" to ask for because they are girls.

However, if they have a Barbi House and Bob's Tool bench - I betcha they put them together and play with them both.

That said, Ainsley asked for video games last year and rarely plays with them.

JayMonster said...

I have a number of problems with this.

First, they don't say what toys they put them up against. Give the child the choice of a toy that "does something" vs. one that doesn't, and any child will pick the interactive ones.

This goes the other way as well. Give a boy a choice between a GI Joe doll (just the doll) and a Barbie "playset" with interactive parts and the boys will probably pick the playset.

For the record, I do believe in knocking down gender roles. However, a lot of it still depends on the child (nature vs. nurture). When my daughter asked for a "Home Depot" set for Christmas a couple of years back, "Santa" was happy to oblige. However by New Years it was "done" never to see the light of day again (despite numerous attempts to rekindle her interest). Whereas the Polly Pockets which my sister (unfortunately) purchased her, and we actively discourage her playing with, continue to get a workout on a regular basis.

I also would be wary of any research published by the beneficiary (in this case maker of Bob the Builder). But I am cynical like that.

Simply put, give a choice and let them decide. I think lately people have been trying too hard to swing things the other way, which still keeps it out of balance.

Tracee said...

I agree Jaymonster. There are some obvious problems with the study. They only used 10 girls. They could have handed them an electronic cool car wash and one naked Barbi doll to choose from. It's a study done by the manufacturer for a Christmas news release.

This is definately NOT accurate science.

However, I think it does speak to a positive shift. The manufacturer of Bob the Builder wants the girl Christmas market. If you've ever went to the store trying to find a neutral toy for your daughter, you know it's hard to find one that isn't a gender stereotype.

I think it's great that Bob is going to court the girl market. And I think press releases like this will encourage parents, who might otherwise not think to give boy toys, to try giving a less stereotypical toy to the girls on their list.

Whether the girl plays with them or not. Funny how hard that is to control isn't it?

Jule said...

When I was a kid I had zero interest in dolls and I never had a Barbie. My younger brother and I played with Star Wars toys and LEGOs. My Mom says she was totally disappointed that we never got to do the dollhouse thing together, but kudos to her for letting me play my own way.

Now that I have a daughter, I'll be interested to see what toys she gravitates to. My in-laws will load her down with girlie stuff, I'm sure, but I'd be perfectly happy to get her a Bob the Builder.

Provided it wasn't made in China, that is.