A toy company will make little green women soldiers after a 6-year-old girl wrote them a letter


After 6-year-old Vivian Lord won fistfuls of tickets at the arcade while on her family vacation along Alabama's Gulf Coast this summer, she traded them in for one thing: as many of those little green Army men as she could. While she was playing with her new three-inch plastic figures, she left her mother speechless when she asked: "Why are there no girls?"

"She wanted me and my husband to Google it," said Brittany Lord, Vivian's mother, "because if there were some, she wanted us to get some. We quickly found there weren't."

So Vivian Lord, of Little Rock, Ark., sat down in their vacation condo and wrote a letter that her mother helped her send to a handful of U.S. toy-makers, asking: "Please can you make Army girls that look like women?"

A Scranton based toy-maker responded with a "Roger that."

This week, ecommerce company BMC Toys announced it's developing a new platoon with four Army women that will be available by Christmas next year. Jeff Imel, who runs the business out of his Northeast Pennsylvania home, said he's been kicking around the idea of Army women for years, and first posted on his blog about it last summer after hearing from a retired Navy sailor who asked why they don't stock female toy soldiers.

But Imel specializes in manufacturing new toys from old molds — his newest is nearly 20 years old. Financing the design, sculpting and development of a brand new toy would cost "about the same as a modest new car," he said, and Imel just wasn't sure the demand was there.

The argument against including women in the pack has long been that it wouldn't be historically accurate, as women weren't infantry soldiers in the mid-20th century, the era the toys generally reflect.

Things changed for Imel after he got the letter from Lord, which read in part: "Why do you not make girl Army men my friends mom is in the army to!!"

National news organizations interviewed Vivian, and Imel said he was sold.

Now, he said, he's not trying to be "100 percent historically accurate. This is based upon who I'm making this for, which is kids."

So far, Imel has commissioned a prototype of one female solider: a captain who's carrying a handgun and a pair of binoculars. Three others are also in the design phase, including a woman standing firing a rifle, a woman prone firing a rifle, and a woman kneeling with a bazooka. For now, someone who orders a 24-piece set would get four different poses in the mix.

Imel said kids tend to pick a favorite soldier that becomes the focus of their make-believe battle — and many see themselves in that favorite tiny figure.

"Certain kids will connect with this," he said, "and it will help them be the hero of their story."

Brittany Lord said while her daughter, who just started first grade, may not comprehend that "this is something she can tell her grandkids that she had a hand in," Vivian's heard from other women in the military and seems to understand that they weren't being represented in the toys.

"There are little girls that really idolize women in the military, and there's no representation of them," Brittany said. "Just because it's always been that way, doesn't mean it's right."

For now, Vivian's told her mother she can't wait to get her pack of Army women next year.

And she may just get rid of all her men.


©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.inquirer.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

It has been a deadly year for Green Berets, with every active-duty Special Forces Group losing a valued soldier in Afghanistan or Syria.

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat.

In Afghanistan, Army special operators account for 10 of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Of the other two soldiers, one was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and the other was a Ranger.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Documents from the Pentagon show that "far more taxpayer funds" were spent by the U.S. military on overnight stays at a Trump resort in Scotland than previously known, two Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday, as they demanded more evidence from the Defense Department as part of their investigation.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the heads of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee and one of it subcommittees said that while initial reports indicated that only one U.S. military crew had stayed at President Donald Trump's Turnberry resort southeast of Glasgow, the Pentagon had now turned over data indicating "more than three dozen separate stays" since Trump moved into the White House.

Read More Show Less
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley from 1979's 'Alien' (20th Century Fox)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

QUANTICO, Va. -- Marines who spend much of their day lifting hefty ammunition or moving pallets full of gear could soon get a helping hand.

The Marine Corps is close to signing a deal to test an exoskeleton prototype that can help a single person move as much as several leathernecks combined.

Read More Show Less
NEC Corp.'s machine with propellers hovers at the company's facility in Abiko near Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. The Japanese electronics maker showed a "flying car," a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute. (Associated Press/Koji Sasahara

'Agility Prime' sounds like a revolutionary new video streaming service, or a parkour-themed workout regimen, or Transformers-inspired niche porno venture.

But no, it's the name of the Air Force's nascent effort to replace the V-22 Osprey with a militarized flying car — and it's set to take off sooner than you think.

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

Task & Purpose is looking for a dynamic social media editor to join our team.

Our ideal candidate is an enthusiastic self-starter who can handle a variety of tasks without breaking a sweat. He or she will own our brand's social coverage while working full-time alongside our team of journalists and video producers, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (feed, stories, and IGTV), YouTube, and elsewhere.

Read More Show Less