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.

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

Read More
Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

Read More
A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More
Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

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

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

Read More
Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Oscar Temores and his family. (GoFundMe)

When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.

Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.

"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."

That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.

Read More