Despite Petition, Toys ‘R’ Us Won’t Pull ‘Breaking Bad’ Action Figures
By Joan Verdon, The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
The “Breaking Bad” action figures in the aisles at Toys “R” Us stores are making some parents mad, including a Florida mother who launched an online petition to get the retailer to pull the products.
Toys “R” Us, however, has heard this kind of complaint about action figures before, and it isn’t alarmed. The figures, which feature drug lord Walter White and his sidekick, Jesse Pinkman, from the award-winning television show “Breaking Bad,” are carried in the adult action figure section of the store in limited quantities “for our collector customers,” and the company has no plans to stop selling them, according to Toys spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh.
The Florida mother who started the Change.org petition was reacting to a Walter White figure sold online at the Toys “R” Us website that comes with accessories including a small bag of the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine. The White character on the show is a chemistry teacher who believes he is dying and starts making and selling crystal meth to pay his medical bills. As of Tuesday morning, the petition against the retailer had more than 7,000 supporters.
Six-inch action figures, which became hot properties with the first Star Wars movies, have attracted controversy whenever the molded plastic toys have been used to depict material considered too adult for Toys “R” Us kids. One of the first action figures to raise a ruckus was that of Star Wars heroine Princess Leia dressed as a scantily clad slave girl.
Chris Byrne, content director of TTPM.com, a leading toy review website, and the author of “Toy Time,” a history of America’s most beloved toys, said action figures such as the “Breaking Bad” dolls are commonly carried by toy stores, and they are not targeted to children.
“Not all toys are intended for children,” Byrne said. “The toy market is very broad. These are collector dolls for people who are fans of the series. And if your child is a fan of the series, there’s something wrong with how you’re editing what they’re watching on TV.”
The collector market “is a fairly hefty percentage of the action figure market,” Byrne said.
A similar parental protest arose in 2011 when Mattel produced a collector’s edition Barbie called the “Tokidoki Barbie,” after the artist who designed it. The doll was covered with artistic tattoos and had pink hair, and mothers protested that Mattel was using Barbie to encourage girls to get tattoos.
Byrne said he has found that young children don’t even look at the collector action figures unless they are familiar with the television show or characters depicted by the figures. “If it’s not in their consciousness they kind of don’t even see it,” he said. “They’ll run for the Pikachu or the Ninja Turtle because that’s where their focus goes.”
Photo via Nicholas Eckhart via Flickr
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