Boys and Girls: Really Not So Different
Back in the 80’s -when life was simpler, a hell of a lot more fun, and chock full of toys from one end of the entertainment spectrum to the next- it seemed like entertainment companies did all they could to match what girls were playing with, with what boys were playing with, and vice versa. Case in point: He-Man for the fellas, She-Ra for the ladies. Or, E-Z Bake Oven for the girls (and aspiring, questionably queer boys who wanted to grow up to be pastry chefs) and the Creepy Crawly Mad Scientist thingie for boys that featured the exact same oven with just some gooey boy stuff all over it. How about Care Bears for girls and My Pet Monster for boys… well, you see where I’m going with this. Anyway, one of the most classic examples is what we’re here to discuss today. Let’s begin, like most other things do on this Earth, with the ladies…
This, as you might recognize, is a picture of the wonderful girl’s toy, Fashion Plates. It used to come in a variety of different styles, including, if I’m remembering correctly, Barbie. As you can see by the set up (or, if you know just by grinning and nodding in nostalgic recognition) this toy came equipped with several ‘plates’ representing each piece of your fashionable body like legs, torso, arms, and head. These plastic pieces could be interchanged literally thousands of ways so the fashion-conscious girl could very easily match plaid-patterned skirts with leather coats and a sassy coif. Pretty cool really. Basically, you laid the design out on the little, molded tray, dropped a piece of paper over the top, and rubbed a relief of the outfit. Snazzy! I recall quite vividly my sister employing one of these for a set of paper dolls at least once a week and my brother and I ripping them to shreds. Yeah. So this was the female equivalent to…
This. Oh look! Now the boys can create smashing outerwear and on-the-town ensembles too… No? No. You see, boys are inherently gruffer, filthier, scarier, and infinitely more kick ass. So what do we get? The Mighty Men and Monster Maker! Oh HELL yes! Sure there were only three options from which to choose your desired beastie or battler, but that’s all true boys really need, anyway! You got your head (helmets, horns, aliens, monsters…), your ‘body’ (wings, scales, muscles, lizards…), and your legs (claws, boots, with or without a tail…), and your paper and you were good to go! Get to rubbin’ one out, kids! No, not like that! But even with the minimal selection of accessories you could still create one damn sweet creature or superhero. So you see? Two toys that are, for all intents and purposes the same thing with just the minor difference of being made for opposing sexes. Gotta love those 80’s.
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