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October 9, 2015



I wonder if this isn't better than the Texas school books that implied that slaves were simply "workers" in a section of the book that discussed patterns of immigration. I'm not saying that this toy is at all appropriate (the neck chain is definitely uncalled for), but pretending the past didn't happen isn't a solution either. Pirates aren't just about gold and hidden treasure -- but instead they played a big part in the slave trade. They attacked ships and costal settlements to obtain captives to sell into slavery. Granted if you dig deeper into the history of piracy you'll learn that there were North Africans who attacked Europeans and took them as slaves. If Playmobil insists on including slaves in their play set, maybe the solution is to have multi-racial slaves onboard the Playmobil ship -- but I'd still ditch the neck chain.


Sorry, but I must strongly disagree.

1. The figure not a slave. He's standing on top of the ship with a map and a gun.
2. The figure is not of African descent - unless you want to see that hair as dredlocks, which is a stretch.
3. The concern of the mother is overreaction. The pictures she posted on social media were ridiculous - the child crying, etc.

I appreciate that Playmobil doesn't gloss over anything in its toys - TSA playsets, guns, criminals, port-o-potties. If it's part of life, it's in a Playmobil set.

If you are personally offended by the neckwear of a Playmobil fig, then throw that part away and move on (which my parents did with all the Playmobil pistols when I was a kid. They also blacked out certain Trivial Pursuit questions with a Sharpie, but that's a longer story).

Anyway, great to see you in Dallas, and thanks for bringing this story to the industry's attention. I look forward to seeing more comments.


Ryan Hamilton

Jonathan Andrew Sheen

I can certainly understand and sympathize with a decision not to "go there" at all, but it's also worth pointing out that this character is not enslaved _now_. He's a scallawag, sailing the seven seas in search of plunder and adventure, and whether his shackle indicates a previous condition of enslavement or imprisonment, he clearly escaped that condition through courage and skill and no small derring-do. There's a reality to slavery that we probably don't want children to grapple with, but the reality of pirates -- rife with murder, rape, betrayal, robbery, the spread of disease and misery -- is no prettier. The version a child will play will be about adventures on the high seas... and would treat the shackle on one character's neck as a signifier of earlier adventures. There can be time enough later for the child to learn that neither piracy nor enslavement was as fun as they imagined playing Playmobil Pirates.

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