Fighting Toys 

To paraphrase a Lionel Bart song of yesteryear, “Toys ain’t what they used to be.”

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Toys use to be just toys that you were meant to enjoy without any additional baggage when I was a child.  You had your favourites and would play with them for hours quite happily.  There were even occasions when you created your own versions of a particular toy that was unobtainable due to financial constraints or other reasons. Nowadays though, toys seem to be weighed down by issues dealing with marketing, licensing and even political correctness.  One recent example of this trend could be seen with Character Options HM Armed Forces collection of military personnel and equipment.

Here we have a product launched at the appropriate location of RAF Northolt.  Photographic identification was required to gain entry but, surprisingly, no search of baggage was carried out unlike some other locations.  Among those present were members of the armed services (both rank and file and high ranking officers), a TV celebrity (who I must admit I have never heard of before this event), and a psychology expert who specialises in play and parenting. 

In the case of the psychologist, her presence was there to field any concerns that might be raised by the assembled audience regarding the launch of military inspired toys in the current PC (that’s political correctness rather than personal computer) climate.  It seems that military toys will help alleviate the problem of bullying rather than increase it.  But enough of the live personal present, the real focus of attention at the event was on the toy characters and the range of accompanying equipment that made up the collection.

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Nine new articulated action figures have been developed, with more to follow over a period of time to alleviate concerns over the lack of any female and various ethnic characters.  I must say the figures certainly looked accurate when compared to the military personnel present – that’s the rank & file as there were no models of high ranking officers, I wonder why?   These 10-inch figures have been developed to represent the three branches of the armed forces.  Making up the Navy contingent are a Royal Marine Commando (£14.99), a Royal Navy Diver (£19.99) and a Royal Commando with his own canoe (£24.99).  The Army contribution consists of an Infantryman (£14.99), a Mortarman (£19.99), and a fully Armoured Infantryman (£24.99).  The three RAF figures are represented by a Fast Jet Pilot (£17.99), Falcons Parachutist (£14.99), and a Winch Man (£24.99).  All the current models feature white, male characters which is hardly representative of the current modern Armed Forces.

Of course members of the armed forces work better when provided with other tools of their trade apart from personal items.  As a result Character Options has created a range of addition equipment.  There is a Vector Thrust Fast Jet (£39.99) with retractable landing gear and firing missile plus a cockpit that can house a Fast Jet Pilot.  Complete with rotating turret, rugged rubber tracks and firing missile, the Tactical Battle Tank (£39.99) has room to fit in two Army personnel.

Further items in this new collection include a Utility Belt (£12.99), camouflage Face Paint (£4.99), Backpack (£14.99), Walkie Talkie (£14.99) and a Metal Detector (£19.99).  You could also invest in pair of Hi-Tech Night Vision Goggles (£99.99) which allows the child to see up to 15 metres in the dark.  For children who wish to fully immerse themselves in this military environment there are complete uniforms (£29.99) in a one-size fits all format.  There are uniforms to turn the child into a would-be Fast Jet Pilot, Infantryman or Green Beret Marine.  These toys are available from all good toys shops and superstores with more additions to the collection promised..

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