Playmobil Defends it Cops & Robbers Toys (As Do I)

Hey Readers — Hadn’t realized there was a tempest in a toy robbery going on in England, where the sainbbsfhb
media are reporting
anger at Playmobil’s age-old cops and robbers set:

Wearing dark glasses, the blonde dolly points her pistol at the smiley bank manager as he happily hands over the cash.

It’s just one of the fun blags four-year-old kids can act out in Playmobil’s Bank and Safe set – and it is getting anti-gun campaigners all fired up, the Sunday People reports.

Other scenarios include a gold bullion raid and cash machine heist.

An anti-violence activist is then quoted as saying that a toy like this sends the wrong message. I can’t tell if this is just one fellow or if he has other supporters. He may not. But either way, it bears noting that if mini plastic miscreants send the wrong message, so did all the fairy tales I read as a kid, which reveled in witches trying to make kids into dinner, or at least give them carbuncles. (A favorite word from my youth.)

Sometimes I despair at how literally we are taking childhood. Think of the boy suspended for lobbing an imaginary grenade during an imaginary war the other day. This stuff isn’t dangerous — it’s normal, even good. How I WISHED I could have had all the powers of a witch as a kid, and how many hours I spent pretending that I did. Did this turn me into  a witch? (You are not allowed to answer that if you are troll…which is the way it works in the fairy world, too, by the way. Witches rule.)

Anyway, to lock up all the Playmobil bandits won’t make us any safer because…they’re PLAYMOBIL BANDITS.  – L.

P.S. Scroll down on this link for the Facebook discussion of the set.

Help! Help! Oh, won’t the thought police come save me?


36 Responses to Playmobil Defends it Cops & Robbers Toys (As Do I)

  1. Brenda February 18, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    As a general rule I don’t buy my 3 boys guns to play with, but I quickly learned that a banana can be a gun, a tinker toy, or legos all become weapons along with their imagination. And I’m good with that. I see this toy and I think ALL of my boys would think this was fun. Please America let our kids PLAY!

  2. Amy Huckaby February 18, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    An aside if you will, regarding the boy throwing the imaginary grenade…that mother’s account is very much in question now, disputed by the school district. She has a history of false reporting, arson and child abuse convictions.

  3. Michael February 18, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    O my, the terrible things we teach kids these days. Apart from the obvious violence inducing gun there’s a lot more wrong with this “Bank With Safe” set that should be addressed by Playmobile asap. The tie the bank manager is wearing could potentially strangle him and we don’t know if it adheres to safety standards. And why is the robber, eh sorry, suspect, a *blonde* female and the manager a well dressed male? That’s an unacceptable stereotype imho. The bank has no steps leading up so someone might trip and the teller doesn’t seem wheelchair accessible. This set needs to be pulled because it will permanently scar any child that ever plays with it. He or she might start to think the real world is not the perfect happy and safe bubble-wrapped place it is.

    One the up side though, at least they didn’t market a cowboys-and-indians set!

  4. Sarah in WA February 18, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    My five-year-old caught part of a TV news report recently on protests on both sides of the current gun debate. He said, “I don’t think people should have guns.” I asked him why he felt this way, especially since he regularly turns his toys into guns. “That’s pretend,” he said. “I don’t think people should be fighting about guns, either.” I couldn’t agree with him more on that point!

    So, my five-year-old can apparently tell the difference between pretend and real when it comes to guns. He is not a violent kid. Sure, he’s gotten into some scuffles, but it’s not his first instinct to initiate a fight. I’m positive he could play with this very toy and it would do nothing to change that.

    Good parenting (and perhaps lucking out with a child’s personality) is far more important than a toy like this. Parents should make the call as to whether this is appropriate for their child or not. End of story.

  5. Captain America February 18, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    . . . there are going to be more and more Thought Police (even as people frankly see much of the hypocrisy of our euphemistic language).

    Get used to it. Guard your tongue. Watch who you’re speaking with. We live in bad times for free speech and association.

  6. SadButMadLad February 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    For a whole series of articles on how playmobil can be “abused” into setups that would bring a blush to even the most broad minded of people you just need to visit the site of “The Register”, a tech online newspaper.

  7. Kim Z. February 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Isn’t the message bank robbing is bad. he/she is the bad guy the one that goes to jail right ??? I’m not sure what other message there is. Bank robberies happen and sometimes with a gun. Pretending is doesn’t happen doesn’t make things better. I am certainly perplexed at this kind of “movement”

  8. John February 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Lenore… may not be a good idea using the fairy tale analogy because now all the child advocates and anti-violence people will campaign to get childhood fairy tales banned, deeming them too scary and violent for our precious little children!

  9. Ifsogirl February 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Leave my Grimms fairy tales alone! And my Hans Christian Anderson as well. I loved the brutality, it was exciting and scary and fun. And sometimes I had a nightmare, and my mom would make it better. My oldest daughter is reading them now. She’s 8 and perfectly capable of understanding they may be scary. She wants more pictures in it lol.

    I also love Playmobile and I remember getting the figures in myHappy Meal. If I had the space I’d have a Playmobile city complete with bad guys with guns.

  10. Emily February 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I probably wouldn’t buy my hypothetical, future children a Playmobil cops and robbers set, or realistic-looking toy guns (although, Nerf, Super Soaker, and the like are fine, because they don’t look like guns, they look like fluorescent pieces of plastic), but I agree that you can’t prevent gun play. When I was in grade eight, there was a boy in my class who was a very talented artist, and his favourite things to draw were, unfortunately, war-themed. He’d draw battle scenes, and he’d make 3D “tanks” out of graph paper and tape, and act out imaginary “wars” with them on his desk. While this wasn’t encouraged during class time, nobody tried to stop him from doing it. At the end of the year, he was given an art award, because he also did very well in art class, when we had it (side note: I won the award for language arts). Anyway, if that happened nowadays, he probably would have been suspended, but things were different in 1998.

  11. lollipoplover February 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    The only thing pulling this toy will accomplish is robbing children of their imaginations. It’s a TOY. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    Buy the Star Wars set instead. But then we will hear from Communities against Lightsabers. Citizens for Supersoaker Regulations won’t be far behind.

  12. Lola February 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    I don’t know about you people, but when I was little, all the movies, stories and tales were about Good vs. Evil. The goodies were all intelligent, handsome, well-mannered, in a word, heroes. The baddies, of course, were ugly, smelly, bad tempered and rude. Real villains.
    It wasn’t all supposed to present me with real life atmosphere, but rather to show me role models (the key word here being models).
    However, every character now seems to be ambiguous. Heroes are bad mannered, impatient and prone to tantrums; baddies are just misunderstood, and every conflict must be solved by negotiation, compromise and agreement.
    So it comes as no surprise when people cringe at a scene where there are good gooddies and bad baddies. Pity. Kids are not allowed now to dream of being heroes (or witches, either)

  13. Dirge February 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    We send a lot of mixed messages to kids these days. Police and soldiers are heroes, and should be looked up to and imitated. But if you pretend to be one with a gun or a weapon at school, that is worth a suspension or expulsion. Most kids know the difference between real and pretend.

  14. lollipoplover February 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    I miss the Playmobil days! My son loved his Playmobil Pirate ship and played with it happily for hours. It had swords and treasures and he staged battles and fired cannons. He has outgrown this lovely toy and has not turned into a Pirate. He also doesn’t steal or plunder and still keeps a box of his favorite figurine”guys” hidden beneath his bed (though he’d be mortified if anyone knew.)

    The most scandalous part of this Playmobil set is a WOMAN is the robber-complete with a helmet head of blonde hair and hot pink (yet practical) shoes. Hooray for women’s lib!

  15. Donald February 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    I agree

    If we ban cops and robber toys, there will be less violence. I also think that if we ban Kleenex tissues, we wouldn’t have as many colds.

    Children suffer greatly from the cold and flue. Let’s all write to politicians and lobby to shut down the Kleenex company. Don’t they have any morals? How can they make children suffer like that?

  16. CrazyCatLady February 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    My son would play “Home Alone” with the cop and robber set. And that is certainly a violent movie!

  17. CrazyCatLady February 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    About the hand grenade. I don’t doubt the truth of that at all. Even given any issues that the mom may have had in the past. (Even my pacifist son plays games where he rids the world of evil.)

    A friend (homeschooling like us) was telling me that her neighbor was having issues with the school. The boy, about 7, at the end of the day, when the bell rang to go home, put his hands together up high, and made a downward motion. Apparently “stabbing” his desk. The parents got a call from the principal saying that they had a “zero tolerance” policy. Sounds like a “zero intelligence” policy to me.

  18. fred schueler February 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    I suppose that if kids aren’t supposed to model crime, they shouldn’t be allowed access to the daily news. We didn’t have toy guns when we were kids, in the 1950s, and were advised not to pretend to shoot at People, but this didn’t extend to toy figurines. The difference is that with toy guns one pretends oneself to shoot a Person, but with toy figurines it’s other individuals who are doing the shooting, and playing out their deplorable actions is part of coming to understand the world.

  19. steve February 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    The article:

    “Second-grade Loveland student reportedly suspended for imaginary weapon,” said:

    “Parent Mandie Watkins said Mary Blair principal Valerie Lara-Black called her Friday afternoon to inform her that her second-grade son, Alex, had been suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade during recess on the playground.”

    In keeping with this sad and silly thinking, I wonder if principal Valerie Lara-Black will decide to treat the entire student body to imaginary ice cream sundaes on the day they install the brand new imaginary playground equipment she has decided to donate to her school and all the other elementary schools in the county?

    Rumor has it that principal Lara-Black, intent on keeping their school as safe as possible, is also offering all her teachers a $500 bonus for every imaginary grenade they can find on school property. These bonuses are being funded by her imaginary inheritance from her imaginary uncle in Oregon.

    One wonders if the will praise the principal’s stand against violence in a public school.

  20. CrazyCatLady February 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    “Yay! Imagination ice cream!” Rodd and Todd Flanders.

    Life should NOT imitate the Simpsons! (But I agree with Steve, it looks like it is trying to!)

  21. Donald February 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Here’s a new and novel idea. Why don’t we allow children the opportunity to outgrow playing cops and robbers or throwing imaginary hand grenades? Let’s give them a chance to get it out of their system. Let’s help them mature by letting them get past this stage.

    There are three views about violence.

    1. Children playing with a imaginary gun leads to their hunger for video games such as Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, or perhaps real situations such as the Columbine High School massacre.
    2. Playing Cops and robbers is a normal childhood activity. Trying to stop this will have the opposite effect. Banning imaginary hand grenades doesn’t curb violence. It enhances it.
    3. Let’s take action against violence. It matters not if we suspend kids for making a pretend gun from an L shape piece of paper or we have school shooting drills. Whether it helps or makes the problem worse is irrelevant. We feel better if we’re doing something-ANYTHING.

  22. ggg February 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    I have no objection to playing Cops and Robbers, but I do kind of object to having to buy a toy in order to play it.

  23. bmommyx2 February 19, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    OMG. I don’t know if I would buy this toy, but if my son really wanted one I might consider it.

  24. Sally February 19, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    I love Playmobil’s response to the flap about the toy – that children figure out (by themselves!) good vs. evil through imaginary play. We can all give testimony to that being true because it’s how we all played. It’s how all children play! And thank goodness no one was interfering with our working that out for ourselves back then. Let’s ensure today’s children aren’t “robbed” (pardon the pun) of such an important method for exploring their world. No more getting batty about imaginary play!

    “One thing our customer feedback tells us is that it is important that children can be taught, through play, the importance of recognising good from evil and ‘baddies’ from ‘goodies’.

    “Our ‘cops’ and ‘robbers’, in the guise of policemen, police cars, criminals and jails, enable these scenarios to be created.

  25. lollipoplover February 19, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    The comments about good vs. evil made me think of this (though I love the commercial from Sweden):

  26. Lola February 19, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Plus, we’ve all had this experience as children, when playing cops and robbers. We would act out really violent scenes, but if someone got really hurt the game automatically stopped and adults would be summoned to fix a broken wrist or a bloody nose.
    Children CAN tell the difference between fiction and reality. Even more than some adults, it seems…

  27. Christine February 19, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    Scary! Especially that poor kid in Colorado who thought he was saving the world with his imaginary grenade. I taught 6th grade special education and we studied world religions. Since my students preferred hands-on learning we actually acted out the battle with King Antiochus that led to the miracle of Hanukkah. I’d hate to think how much trouble I’d get in if I was still doing that! I mean imagine a bunch of 6th graders dressed in war costumes hiding behind desks lobbing bean bags at each other (I didn’t trust them to fight with swords but more because I figured giving a bunch of 11 and 12 year old boys plastic weapons and telling them to fight was asking for trouble than any sort of thought I might damage their delicate psyche.) We need to let kids be kids and acting out bad versus good is a natrural part of childhood.

  28. renee February 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Re: the boy suspended for the imaginary weapon. There goes all my parenting credibility!!! I had to break up a fight between you 13y son and 10y daughter. Apparently my dd sat on the sofa and disrupted my ds’s imaginary army that was all ready to go on patrol. Note the key word ‘imaginary’. No actual toys were used. I thought the logic of “if they are all in your head, then you can just set them up again in your head”was good enough. It’s not like she could see them and did it on purpose.

    But according to the principle of that school – they certainly were real enough and my dd was at fault.

  29. Frau_Mahlzahn February 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Let me get this straight: you guys are debating little itsy bitsy tiny plastic guns while at the same time granting every citizen (including every idiot) the right to bear arms?

    Oh, the absurdity!

    So long,

  30. BMS February 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    I am pretty strongly anti-real-gun. Won’t have one in my house under any circumstances, and no, you cannot have a bb gun son, sorry. But our house is populated with Nerf guns, water guns, cap guns, as well as swords, toy archery sets, etc. (two boys, can you tell?). The rule is, if you hurt each other with whatever it is, it goes away. They know the difference between real and fake.

    Incidentally, my refusal to buy them real weaponry led to a great deal of free-range self sufficiency last weekend. I won’t buy them a real archery set right now, on the grounds that they are slobs who trash the house and who have enough toys. So they spent the weekend building their own bows and arrows out of string, dowels, and scrapwood, after which they made a target out of foam board. I was impressed – the bows and arrows actually worked, they demonstrated responsible range behavior (the other always stood behind the shooter, target was placed against the wall of the shed where stray arrows wouldn’t leave the yard, etc.), and they actually played for about 5 hours with no computer and without saying they were bored. Works for me. They get their testosterone out, learn some new skills, and I don’t shell out money.

  31. Library Momma February 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Mixed messages is an understatement. We don’t want kids to play with pretend guns (and I don’t love them, but it’s hard to avoid them — even the Lego sets include them and they have their own version of cops and robbers, complete with tiny machine guns), yet we can’t get decent gun control laws passed in the USA, and as others have pointed out above, our society idolizes soldiers and war and encourages young men and women to join the military.

  32. lollipoplover February 20, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    @BMS- I love your story! My kids are lovers of archery too-my son once made a bow and arrow set with sticks and rubber band from a broken sling shot. He used his swiss army knife to whittle points on the stick arrows and a cardboard box as a target. Hours of free entertainment and testosterone usage.

    This weekend he found a box of thick drinking straws and started a blow dart war. They fired q-tips as darts-blotting them in washable paint to hit his targets- his friends. The only drawback is I am still finding q-tips all over the yard…they’re in the bushes and shrubs!

  33. BMS February 20, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I have to add – yesterday son #1 was using his bow and arrow in the basement and missed the target, murdering an innocent can of WD-40 which promptly sprayed all over the basement. He was so afraid of getting the bow and arrow taken away that he cleaned up the whole mess by himself before he mentioned it to me at all. Progress! In the past, he probably would have left it. As it is I praised him for cleaning up, for being honest, and then I suggested that we find a new location for the WD-40….

  34. Betsy February 21, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    ‘Wearing dark glasses the blonde dolly points her pistol at the smiley bank manager as he happily hands over the cash.”

    This really is hilarious!
    Great post, Lenore.

  35. Emily February 23, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    @BMS–You pretty much summed up my attitude about real weapons versus fake weapons. Also, when I was maybe ten or eleven, and my brother would have been seven or eight, he actually managed to build a “crossbow” out of scrap lumber, nails, and a LOT of elastic bands. The “arrow” was part of a garden stake, with a slit cut in one end. Anyway, this crossbow wasn’t pretty, but it actually worked. Around the same time, we attempted to convert our old wagon into a go-kart, so that we could steer it down the hill, but that just resulted in the whole thing falling apart, and minor injuries all around, including a bruise on the side of my knee, where my brother hit me because he wasn’t happy with something I’d added on to the go-kart. Anyway, on this particular weekend, my mom was out of town, so my dad got the idea to have a garage sale, and my brother and I were all for it, except we wanted to make it more like a mini-carnival, by also offering “go-kart” rides, and opening up an “archery range” using the homemade crossbow. I think I also planned to make homemade lemonade and cookies to sell, but I don’t remember that part too well. In the end, this garage sale never happened, probably because my dad didn’t want the whole neighbourhood to see evidence of what they’d probably consider to be “negligent parenting,” but was really just the result of two kids who weren’t allowed toy guns or Power Wheels Jeeps, and attempted to improvise their own. Given the fact that he’s a lawyer, who specializes in family law, he probably had a point about what people would say, if they saw our “go-kart” and “crossbow.”

    Anyway, the ironic thing about all of this is, my brother and I were never allowed toy guns, and we were pretty overprotected growing up, although my mom was easily the more bubble-wrappish parent of the two. However, my brother did even “better” than the average boy making a pretend gun out of a stick, or Legos, or whatever; he made an actual, working, DANGEROUS weapon out of junk. If anyone had ever gotten in the way of that crossbow (which mysteriously disappeared shortly after that weekend), it could have literally put someone’s eye out.

  36. homesite May 7, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    gamer fun for all, cool!