Perhaps the most underrated toy I ever enjoyed was my collection of Little Green Army Men. My brother and I would set them up all over the kitchen and dining room and use any number of other toys to knock them down until one side had only one man standing. My personal favorite was the guy on one knee firing a bazooka.
Probably stemming from both an immediate disinterest (in the case of my sister) or relief that we were engaged in some form of behavior that wouldn’t lead to stitches or band-aids (in the case of my mother) no one ever asked us the what six-year-old Vivian Lord proposed to her mom this summer: Why are there no girls?
The iconic toy has been around since the 1930s and was even inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2014, but never with a female version.
After cashing in some hard-earned arcade tickets for the toy soldiers, Vivian was disappointed to find out that no toy maker made Little Green Army Women. So, Vivian and her mom reached out to as many U.S. manufacturers of toy soldiers as they could to find out why.
Jeff Imel runs BMC Toys out of his home in Scanton, Pennsylvania. Before receiving Vivian’s letter, Imel had floated the idea of developing a female set of soldiers, but wasn’t sure if there would be enough interest to validate the approximately $20,000 investment in designing and producing the plastic molds needed to make the toys.
After getting the letter, he decided to proceed and recently announced that a new 24-piece set is under development that will feature four women soldiers – one carrying a handgun and pair of binoculars; a woman firing a rifle from a standing position; a woman firing a rifle from the prone position; and, my personal favorite, the bazooka firing pose from one knee.
Apparently, one of the reasons that female versions hadn’t been available was due to historical accuracy. Women didn’t serve in battlefield positions during WWII, which is the era after which most of the little green soldiers are patterned.
Thankfully, Imel is choosing not to overthink the project, recently telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that, “This is based upon who I'm making this for, which is kids."
Unfortunately, the sets won’t be available until Christmas 2020.