“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 iconic 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 the Etch A Sketch, Barrel of Monkeys, Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog, the Green Army Men flew off the aisles 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 reported.
The Green Army Men also appeared in the next three “Toy Story” movies and in countless 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, of Scranton-based 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 women figurines at 1:32 scale and olive drab in color, 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-to-wall 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-year-old 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 display 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 Woman 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/.
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