Two of my favorite bloggers (Al from My Life in a Blog and Nic from PinkNic) alerted me via Twitter (see? I learned how to use it!) of a horrible phenomenon affecting the contemporary cartoon character doll market.
If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, it's likely you knew about Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. Even if you're a guy, you probably at least had a kid sister with a Rainbow Brite doll or Strawberry Shortcake tea party set. These were wholesome, innocent childlike characters.
Completely unlike their new manifestations. That is to say, they took a Bratz doll and a Hannah Montana action figure, stuck it in a blender, and set it to "extra slutty".
This is more than a little disturbing.They took what was essentially some form of Precious Moments figurine and morphed it into a coquettish teen giving come-hither eyes while perched suggestively on a flower. I can understand the desire to update her look (though to be honest, she wasn't exactly a beacon of coolness upon her original inception) but this borders on ridiculous.
Geez, even her magical horse looks more suggestive. I can understand the color upgrade, but they've pretty much zapped all of the childlike wonder out of her. While she used to be an adorable round-faced donut-sleeved child, the relaunch has pegged her as a slender cheerleader-type with waist-emphasizing belt and rainbow bangles.
Just what sort of messsage are these redesigns aiming to send to children today? People are constantly remarking on how children grow up faster these days, but you have to wonder if marketers are expediating the process a bit. Toy companies have vetoed baby fat and childlike innocence and replaced it with bedroom eyes and a snappy outift.
It's probably no coincidence that Strawberry Shortcake (and Rainbow Brite, until rights were recently sold to Hasbro) is owned by a company called Playmates toys. If that's not suggestive, well, then I'm not sure what is.