Mattel made headlines recently when it took a long standing toy and subsequent character “Thomas the Train” and decided to inject life into the brand that was first brought to the forefront in 1946.
Mattel has owned the rights to Thomas the Train since 2012, and in the last four years has worked to make it more relevant, not so much because of the cartoon or character itself but just the lack of diversity it has relative to the turn toys have taken recently as far as implementing less of tunnel vision with how they’re marketed.
Take Barbie for instance, as the long standing and highly influential and marketable brand that is nothing short of iconic, and have started to market to not only girls but boys as well.
Thomas the Train is on track to do the same thing as the brand and cartoon (and subsequent toys) are starting to introduce characters from other countries and taking a modern approach to a toy that has been around forever but was in desperate need of an upgrade.
Mattel also made it a point to differentiate the characters both in speech and appearance to give a better understanding to its young audience about that very topic of diversity.
The move by Mattel isn’t surprising and deserves to be considered as a headline if you think about toys and games in general and the topic of marketing specifically. For far too long, toys have been a boys toy and girls toy business for the most part (even those some toys are universally made for both), and while that hardly is tragic, you can’t believe that a girl in this day and age can’t have an action figure or a boy can’t play with dolls.
While some have laughed off or panned the idea of that sort of marketing between boys and girls toys, the idea is hardly far fetched. Target is one of the companies overall that has stopped with the “boy” and “girl” labels and now just call them kids toys.
That is a step take first and others undoubtedly will follow suit.
This isn’t about being politically correct but rather the evolution of toys and not limiting them in the vein of who they should be marketed to or dictating to parents that they can’t have a toy that is traditionally for a boy or girl and not letting them intermingle so to speak with the other.
That notion is hardly a stretch. Instead, it should and is on its way to being the norm.