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Dolls are starting to look more like real kids and it’s amazing

What do you picture when you think of dolls? Pink clothes, fair skin, blue eyes and long hair are the usual features conjured up. But in a pretty standardised market, some innovative companies are creating dolls that are different in the best way possible.

As the mum of a 2-year-old boy, my house certainly has a corner crammed full of cars, trucks and superhero costumes. I haven’t swayed him; he just naturally gravitates towards those things. But my son has also shown an interest in figurines and dolls. He loves having a plastic person to put in his trike or to play with in the dirt in our backyard.

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For his upcoming birthday, I wanted to get him a buddy who was a bit closer to who he his. I wanted a boy doll that did the cool things he does, a toy he could relate to as a friend. Turns out, the shelves in my department stores haven’t been that forthcoming and there are actually many parents out there who want dolls that represent their child’s differences and help make them feel included.

Earlier this year, 3D-printed toy company, Makies, stepped up to the plate and offered the world’s first line of dolls with disabilities, including a doll with a facial birthmark, one that wears a cochlear implant (hearing aid) and another with a cane. Their whole collection of dolls is fully customisable, from different colour options in eyes, hair and skin to other additions such as glasses.

Makies: Toys like me

Image: Makies

Wonder Crew, who will soon be distributing their dolls “inspired” by the boy culture, are also challenging more stereotypical kids’ toys. The company is keen to highlight that their dolls are inspired by boys, but that they are for anyone to play with.

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Much like me, the Wonder Crew founder and psychotherapist, Laurel Wider, found that there was a clear gap in the doll market. She was frustrated by the messages boys were and, more importantly, weren’t receiving from the “blue aisle”.

Wonder crew doll

Image: Wonder Crew

The plastic boys come styled in pants and T-shirts and with accessories such as capes or hard hats. The chosen themes were based on research with parents, toy experts and psychologists, and there are more in the pipeline, such as a chef doll. This is a company I’m keen to see start shipping to Australia!

At the end of day, we all know that our kids will play with everything from the box the toy came in to toys that aren’t in their gender-specific-marketed aisle, so there really is no harm in letting a boy play with a pink toy or a girl play with cars.

What changes would you like to see in the toy market?

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