New Thomas the Tank Engine Multicultural Characters Stoke Debate

72
Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 5:51 PM

The excitable engine'south roundhouse presently includes a range of international characters such as "proud" Carlos from Mexico, friendly Ashima from India, "driven" Yong Bao of China, and "feisty" Raul from Brazil.

New Thomas the Tank Engine Multicultural Characters Stoke Debate

Thomas the Tank Engine has some new friends on the island of Sodor. The excitable engine'south roundhouse presently includes a range of international characters such as "proud" Carlos from Mexico, friendly Ashima from India, "driven" Yong Bao of China, and "feisty" Raul from Brazil.

In all, a total of fourteen new characters have been announced by Mattel, and are set to show up in the upcoming Olympic Games-themed film "The Grand Race," which will be released later this spring.

The much-loved locutionary locomotive first appeared in a British children'south book in one thousand nine hundred forty-sixth, and came to life in one thousand nine hundred seventy-ninth when the stories became a hit TV show — with none other than Ringo Starr as the narrator. Since then, the franchise has expanded to a $1 billion dollar brand, with its largest markets in the U. S., China, and the U. K.

When Mattel purchased the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise from HIT Entertainment in two thousand-eleventh, the toy titan indicated it'd major plans for a railway-line revamp. David Allmark, managing director at Mattel, said at the time that the Thomas brand was "pretty bereft of investment," and that the company would widen the franchise "on a worldwide basis, particularly in Latin America and Asia."

The new characters are clearly portion of that plan.

"I think what [Mattel] is doing is bright from a business and social standpoint," Richard Gottlieb, CEO of Global Toy Experts, told NBC News. "By being inclusive they create more business, and at the same time create a connection with children in the world'south biggest markets."

But the anthropomorphic additions aren't without controversy. "It'south political correctness GONE MAD!" wrote one commenter on a thread discussing the issue. "Will they also have a disabled engine?" and "What next? The 'Slender Controller' with a thigh gap?" wondered others. "Hands off Thomas, you Philistines," steamed another.

Toy industry experts lauded the multicultural move, however.

"Given the age range, this is simply presenting an opportunity to open a healthy dialogue, a conversation at residence about different cultures," said toy expert Scott Steinberg. "When it comes to adding diversity, any attempt at increasing the spectrum of personalities is positive."

Others took issue with what they perceived as the overly stereotypical depiction of certain nationalities, namely Mattel'south labeling of Rao as a fiery S American, sketching Carlos with very thick eyebrows, and describing Yong Bao as driven to achieve.

"We appreciate receiving feedback from consumers," Mattel told NBC News through its Fisher-Price brand. "In launching the new set of multi-national trains, designed based on historical engines of their respective regions, we looked to celebrate the rail culture and heritage of our global community, while sharing another exciting Thomas the Tank Engine adventure."

Toy insiders weren't so incensed.

"I don't look it as stereotyping so much as creating a cultural see that displays some basic physiognomy," said Gottlieb. "These characters therefore see love a composite of a people and see love everyone and number one within that population."

The target audience isn't likely to be as offended, either.

"We have to be sensitive to opinions on the matter, but from a child'south perspective, their lens doesn't have as many facets," said Steinberg.

Ultimately, a toy is a toy. And all that'south required of it's maybe "anything to spark kids' imaginations," Steinberg said.

READ ALSO
eHarmony finally launches its jobs site

eHarmony finally launches its jobs site

It'south matched more than two million married couples. Now, eHarmony wants to assistance people discover jobs that they love.

46
Saudi Arabian prince plans $2 trillion fund

Saudi Arabian prince plans $2 trillion fund

Saudi Arabia'south prince has outlined bold plans to construct a mega $2 trillion investment fund to assistance wean his country off its heavy reliance on oil.

60
Toshiba recalls 100.000 batteries that can melt your laptop

Toshiba recalls 100.000 batteries that can melt your laptop

Toshiba is recalling faulty laptop batteries that are too hot to handle.

70
Reddit hints that U. S. presently spying on its customers

Reddit hints that U. S. presently spying on its customers

It seems that the federal government has made a demand -- in a controversial secret court -- to spy on Reddit users.

79