A Pennsylvania toy company says it’s making plastic toy female soldiers thanks to requests from female veterans, toy fans, and a persuasive letter from a 6-year-old girl.
The new troops will be female versions of the classic “Plastic Army Men” that have fought countless battles over the decades in children’s bedrooms, classrooms, and back yards.
BMC Toys owner Jeff Imel makes hundreds of thousands of plastic troops each year at his Scranton factory. He says he’s been thinking about making female troops for years.
“To do a new set of figures like this, it’s about the cost of a modest new car, you know, so I checked the couch cushions, came up empty,” he told CNN affiliate WNEP.
A female retired Navy sailor convinced him that there might be a market for the toys. His sister artist Tina Imel researched and drew concept designs for the figures and he posted some sketches of possible designs last year on his company blog.
“Whether it’s a dinosaur, or Davy Crockett, or an Army man, maybe having a set of plastic Army women will help some kid somewhere be the hero of their own story at playtime. And I think that’s a good thing for everybody,” he told WNEP.
In August, he got a letter from 6-year-old Vivian Lord that showed he had the right idea.
Vivian’s mother, Brittany Lord of Little Rock, Arkansas, told CNN last month that her daughter wrote the letter after they couldn’t find any female soldiers.
“[Please] can you make army girls that look like women,” Vivian wrote. “I would play with them every day and my [friends] would to!”
Imel hired a sculptor to make his first prototype — a captain figure holding a handgun and binoculars. He’s also planning to include female versions of soldiers kneeling to fire a bazooka, standing and aiming a rifle and firing a rifle from a prone position on the ground. He says that assortment will be the most useful and fun for “Army play.”
He said the female plastic troops will be deployed next year in time for Christmas.
Imel told CNN that he hasn’t settled on a final retail price for the set, but he expects it to be under $15. He’s planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign in November, so he can take pre-orders and expand the number of different figures that will be in the set.
He’ll look into making female troops from other military branches once this project is finished.
“Thank you for doing this, It made me so happy,” Vivian told CNN affiliate KARK.
She said she’s excited to play with her own set of the toys.
“I might just get the boy Army men out of the way and just play with the girls.”