The 2016 Toys R Us Toy Catalog; A Gender Critique

6a0133ec87bd6d970b01bb08fe52c6970d 370764LOGOIn 2011 I did a series of gender critiques which focused on how major retailers depicted girls and boys in their Christmas circulars. Last week I did a comparison of the 2016 and 2011 Target catalogs ("The 2011 Target Toy Catalog; a gender critique") with an eye towards what has and has not changed over the last five years. This week I make a comparison between the 2016 Toys R Us "Great Big Book of AWWWESOME" and the 2011 "Great Big Toys R Us Book" ("The Great Big Toys R Us Book; a gender critique").

In 2011 I wrote:

For starters, “The Big Toys R Us Book” had more gender equity than any of the others I reviewed.  It contains 93 pictures of boys and 83 of girls; 47% of the images were female.  That number is close to parity and looks pretty good compared to the ratios in the other catalogs that ran from 17% for Sears, 34% for Kmart, 36% for Wal-Mart and 37% for Target

This year's catalog depicts 78 children. 42 of the children are boys and 36 are girls; 46% of the images are female so the numbers are still close to parity.

In 2011 I wrote: 

The over-all numbers looked good but what about those ride-on cars that started it all.  Well, if you look on page 67 in this year’s catalog you will find police car driven by a girl with a boy passenger.  Not only that, there are twelve pictures of ride-ons in this year’s book and riding in them are 9 boys and 11 girls.  When you figure that Sears, Kmart and Wal-Mart showed zero girls in cars, that is quite a statement.    I would be interested in seeing sales of cars to girls in Toys R Us compared to the other retailers.

First a note of explanation. In 2010, I noted that the catalog depicted 4 cars in which there was a boy and a girl. In all four cases a boy was driving. Toys R Us graciously asked me to come out to their offices and speak to the buying staff about gender representation. The following year, 2011, as you can see in the above quote, Toys R showed a girl driving a boy and actually showed more girls driving cars than boys. 

The 2016 catalog continues to show more girls than boys. Page 46 depicts 4 boys and 5 girls. In the 3 cars that depict a driver and a passenger; 2 of the drivers are girls and 1 is a boy.

In 2011 I wrote:

Another area that interested me was construction; typically a male preserve.  Well, not only does the book show a girl prominently playing with Lego but the boy sitting next to her is watching her do it. 

The 2016 catalog bypasses the whole question by neither depicting boys nor girls. 

A few general comments:

Whereas in the Target catalog, I noted that there were no girls depicted with what I would describe as aggressive toys. The Toys R Us catalog shows three girls, one with numchucks, one with a blaster and one with a transformer.

There were no boys anywhere near a doll but there were 2 boys and 2 girls playing with toy kitchen sets.

All together, I thought Toys R Us did a nice job of producing a catalog with a nice balance of gender distinctiveness and gender neutrality. 

2 thoughts

  1. wow! seriously? who cares if a boy or girl is in the pictures!im not buying the kid, im buying the product! this is the problem of today……..

  2. Hey Richard, good observation and comparison. Well done. It looks like theToy R Us buyers paid attention to your gender representation session.

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