Young Vivian Lord of Arkansas recently acquired a set of the instantly recognizable plastic green Army men figurines, iconic toys the 6-year-old had been pining after for weeks.
Excitedly, the little girl from Little Rock sifted through the combat-ready green men, each figure contorted into one of an array of well-known fighting positions, but she couldn’t find what she was looking for.
None of the figures looked like her.
Unsatisfied, Vivian decided to take it up directly with various toy makers, penning letters to three different companies in an effort to add a little enlightenment to some antiquated business practices.
After opening her letter with a quick statement about her budding soccer career, Vivian gets right to the point, calling to the attention of toy makers the scarcity of women figurines, as well as the poorly received pink — still all men — versions some companies produced.
“Why do you not make girl army men?" she wrote.
“Some girls don’t like pink, so please can you make army girls that look like women?"
Jeff Imel of BMC Toys was one of the recipients of Vivian’s letters, and wasted little time responding, notifying the disgruntled customer that he had been kicking around the idea of manufacturing green women figurines for years.
With enough support, it can happen, Imel said.
“I promised to conduct some research, and discovered there might be enough folks looking for Little Green Army Women to consider producing some,” Imel said in a BMC Toys blog.
Enough interest has been garnered in recent years for Imel and crew to draw up concept art for the production process.
“The sketches are a first impression of what we think customers would like, based upon a few requests, some quick research, and a bit of gut instinct,” Imel said of the concepts crafted by artist Tina Imel.
Imel added the green plastic Army women would come in the same poses made famous by their male counterparts in order to “fit in with a wide variety of the plastic figures that are already in several generations of toy boxes.”
Subsequent steps in the realization process would include even more detailed concept art of the figurines, the commissioning of a sculptor, and a “crowdfunding campaign to get these soldiers deployed sooner rather than later.”
Imel even floated the idea of more contemporary sets that could be released featuring both men and women figurines in modernized gear.
The project may need more endorsement before it becomes a reality, Imel admitted, but BMC Toys has at least one guaranteed supporter who will be sure to share with her acquaintances.
"I would play with them every day and my friends would, too!” Vivian wrote.
Supporters of soccer phenom and equal rights activist, Vivian Lord, and the effort to finally modify a generations-old toy set, can pledge their support here.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.