Fe­male fig­urines will join the ranks of the iconic Green Army Men

The Morning Call - - ENTERTAINM­ENT NEWS - By Stephanie Si­gafoos

“Al­right, men! You heard him! Code Red! Re­peat! We are Code Red Re­con Plan Char­lie! Ex­e­cute! Let’s move!”

In a mem­o­rable scene from Pixar’s “Toy Story,” the Lit­tle Green Army Men para­chute from above to help the movie’s lead char­ac­ter, Andy, fight back against a neigh­bor­hood bully who likes to tor­ture toys. In the process, they got some very big ex­po­sure on the sil­ver screen.

Along with the likes of Etch A Sketch, Bar­rel of Mon­keys, Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog, the Lit­tle Green Army Men flew off the shelves of re­tail stores af­ter the film grossed $39 mil­lion dur­ing its first five days at the the­ater in 1995. In fact, nearly all the clas­sic toys and games fea­tured in the an­i­mated film re­ported re­ju­ve­nated sales, The New York Times said.

The Lit­tle Green Army Men also ap­peared in the next three “Toy Story” movies and in other projects, and now the clas­sic toy is break­ing the mold in other ways. The line of green plas­tic sol­diers will soon ex­pand to in­clude women.

Jeff Imel, owner of Scran­ton’s BMC Toys, has been up­dat­ing the com­pany’s blog re­gard­ing the “plas­tic Army women project.” His first post June 20, 2018, de­tailed how a re­tired Navy sailor made a com­pelling case for why Plas­tic Army Women may be pop­u­lar.

Imel agreed, and said the ini­tial con­cept sketches showed the olive-drab women fig­urines at 1:32 scale, de­signed to fit with a wide va­ri­ety of the plas­tic fig­ures al­ready in sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of toy boxes. He so­licited the public’s feed­back through a com­ments sec­tion and an email sub­scrip­tion form.

“Let us know if we’re on the right track, or if we’re way off our plas­tic bases,” Imel wrote. “If there are enough con­firmed sub­scribers, we’ll con­tinue to de­velop the project.”

Fast for­ward more than a year, and Imel’s lat­est blogs con­firm the “amaz­ing and some­what sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence” of wall-towall me­dia cov­er­age on the de­vel­op­ment of Plas­tic Army Women.

“Ev­ery time I think the story has died down, an­other wave hits, and there are even more sto­ries in progress,” he wrote.

It helped that in Au­gust, Imel pub­li­cized a let­ter from a 6-yearold girl named Vi­vian ask­ing, “Why aren’t there any girl army men?” He re­sponded to Vi­vian’s mom to let her know about the project, and the story took on a life of its own.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with CBS Evening News, Imel and BMC Toys fully com­mit­ted to pro­duc­ing a set of Army women fig­urines for Christ­mas 2020. The “On the Road with Steve Hart­man” story also un­veiled an orig­i­nal sculp­ture of the first fig­urine in the set, which will be dis­played Sept. 22 at the Chicago Toy Soldier Show.

Imel wrote in his lat­est up­date that he’s over­whelmed by so many mes­sages of sup­port, and has heard from women who wanted a set of Lit­tle Green Army Women as chil­dren, even back in the 1960s. Many have told him they look for­ward to shar­ing a set with their grand­daugh­ters and com­plet­ing the cir­cle of a long-lost child­hood wish.

BMC Toys says the fig­ures aren’t quite ready for pre­orders, but they’ll de­velop at least four fig­ures in a set, with about 24 fig­ures per pack­age.

If the first set is pop­u­lar enough, more sets will be added to the Plas­tic Army Women col­lec­tion, Imel said.

He ended the blog by not­ing, “I’m guided by the think­ing that ev­ery kid wants to be the hero of their own story … thanks to movies, video games, and a thriv­ing com­mu­nity of stop mo­tion an­i­ma­tors, Plas­tic Army Men have tran­scended, rep­re­sent­ing real sol­diers, and now they ex­ist in their own uni­verse.”

Those wait­ing for up­dates on the sale of Plas­tic Army Women can sub­scribe to the BMC Toys news­let­ter by fill­ing out the form at the bot­tom of Imel’s blog posts at bm­c­toys.com.

Morn­ing Call re­porter Stephanie Si­gafoos can be reached at 610-820-6612 or ssi­[email protected]

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