Courtesy Nickolay Lamm
Courtesy Nickolay Lamm

A Doll to Combat Unrealistic Male Body Image

Courtesy Nickolay Lamm
Courtesy Nickolay Lamm

Women aren’t the only ones who are negatively affected by the unrealistic bodies they see in popular media. While eating disorders and body image issues are often categorized as a problem for women, they also affect men. By one estimate, 10 million American men will struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime. Even more lust after a virtually unattainable body, one that’s lean and muscle-bound. A quarter of men with normal body weights think they’re underweight.

As a way to spotlight male body image issues, Nickolay Lamm—the creator of a doll with the proportions of the average 19-year-old woman (one who even gets periods!)—has launched a male version.

Boy Lammily, named after designer Lamm, is built according to the proportions of the average 19-year-old man, using data provided by a University of Michigan anthropometry researcher.

Image Credit: CourtesyNickolay Lamm

Lamm says his dolls are meant to show that real bodies are beautiful. After he launched the female Lammily in 2014, he started to get requests for a male version.

“I feel men also feel pressure in the form of not being tall, not having enough hair, not having enough muscle, etc,” he told mental_floss in an email. “I think those are things which few talk about because, as a guy, you're kind of expected not to worry too much about your appearance and because women face beauty standards on another level.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

The new doll doesn’t have a six pack or toned biceps, unlike Ken (who is an apt mirror of the male model holding him in the image above, from the 2011 International Toy Fair Nuremberg). Boy Lammily has a figure more akin to the “dadbod.”

You can get your own realistic dude doll via the Boy Lammily crowdfunding campaign. Early backers can snag one for $17.

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The Old Toy Cars Gathering Dust in Your Attic Could Be Worth a Fortune
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iStock

One person's trash is another person's retirement plan. If you've got a box of old toys stashed away in your attic, you could be sitting on a goldmine.

Insurance comparison website GoCompare has put together the below infographic of collectible toy cars that could earn you big bucks if you're willing to part with them. The collectibles are all made by Hot Wheels and Matchbox and are mostly from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. They range in value from £107 ($141.75) to a whopping £8513 ($11,277.74). The latter price tag belongs to a rare 1961 prototype of Matchbox's Magirus-Deutz Truck, only two of which are believed to exist. (Originally, it was worth less than a buck.)

GoCompare didn't stop at cars: they've also got the financial stats on other childhood toys you could sell for tons of money, including Barbies, Pokémon cards, and LEGOs (sadly, there are no Beanie Babies). Check out their findings below. Here's hoping you have one of these toys to sell so you can put your earnings toward a sweet human-sized ride.

POKÉMON CARDS

Charizard (1st Edition, Base Set): $55,000
Umbreon Gold Star (Pp Series 5): $10,200
Blastoise (1st Edition, Base Set): $9000
Crystal Charizard (Skyridge Holo): $6450
Rayquaza Gold Star (EX Deoxys): $6400

(Prices from 2017 eBay listings. All cards are ones you could reasonably collect. No prize or error cards.)

VIDEO GAMES

Stadium Events (NES): $41,977
Air Raid (Atari 2600): $33,433
Nintendo World Championships (gold): $22,376
Nintendo Campus Challenge: $20,100
Red Sea Crossing (Atari 2600): $13,877

(Prices based on eBay sale data from pricecharting.com and auction figures.)

BARBIE DOLLS

Original Barbie (1959): $23,999
Major Matt Mason (1967): $15,000
#4 Blond Barbie (1960): $8999
Karl Lagerfeld Doll (2014): $6000
American Girl (1966): $3500

(Prices sourced from eBay listings of rare models this year.)

LEGO SETS

Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon: $4532
Taj Mahal: $2863
Grand Carousel: $2214
Cafe Corner: $1714
Statue of Liberty: $1699

(Prices sourced from Brickpicker.)

COMIC BOOKS

Action Comics #1 (1938): $3,000,000
Detective Comics #27 (1939): $2,000,000
Superman #1 (1939): $1,000,000
All-American Comics #16 (1940): $747,000
Marvel Comics #1 (1939): $600,000

(Priced in conjunction with comic expert Duncan McAlpine.)

WRESTLING FIGURES

LJN Black Series Macho Man: up to $10,000
Popy Hulk Hogan Rookie Figure: up to $5000
Star Toys Big Boss Man: up to $3000
Hasbro Series Dusty Rhodes: up to $2000
LJN Blue Card Hulk Hogan (White Variant): up to $1500

(Prices sourced from eBay listings of rare models.)

YU-GI-OH! CARDS

Mechanicalchaser: $1600
Blue Eyes White Dragon, Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon (1st Edition): $1500
Harpie's Feather Duster: $1500
Blue Eyes White Dragon, Dark Duel Stories: $1100
Dark Magician Girl: $1050

(Prices from 2017 eBay listings. All cards are ones you could reasonably collect. No prize or error cards.)

TRANSFORMERS FIGURES

Optimus Prime: $12,000
Computron: $5000
Megatron: $4000
Defensor: $3000
Bumblebee: $2900

(Prices based on sales of mint, sealed figures.)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE FIGURES

Scratch the Cat: $1200
Undercover Raphael: $700
Sixth Scale Bebop and Rocksteady: $600
Hotspot: $574
Rocksteady: $495

(Prices based on auction sales.)

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Meester X, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
'Eat Lead!': When Activists Hacked Talking Barbie
Meester X, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Meester X, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

With his familiar green fatigues and grenade clipped to his chest, G.I. Joe platoon leader Duke appeared carved from granite, not plastic. The 12-inch action figure was part of Hasbro’s Hall of Fame series, a premium-format figure released in 1993. Press his chest and the military specialist’s voice box would be activated, allowing Duke to shout a series of commands or threats.

But for a number of boys who unwrapped him on Christmas Day 1993, Duke appeared to be in no mood for conflict. When pressed to speak, he would instead exclaim, “Let’s go shopping!”

At the same time, parents who had gifted their children Mattel’s Teen Talk Barbie—which was also equipped with a voice chip—were equally confused. Instead of talking about clothes or Corvettes, the Barbies sounded like they had been gargling gravel. “Eat lead, Cobra!” shouted one. “Vengeance is mine!”

Families were not amused: The dolls weren't cheap—each had a $40 to $50 price tag. After examining the box for any signs of tampering, some parents came across a small leaflet that helped explain the toys’ out-of-character speeches. A group calling themselves the Barbie Liberation Organization was taking responsibility for the switch. The goal of their stunt was to reframe the conversation over gender roles in America.

 
 

Since she first hit shelves in 1959, Barbie has transcended her boxed-in identity as mere toy store inventory to become an avatar for girls looking for a role model. (At one point, the doll received 20,000 fan letters a week.) The size of her waist, her job skills, her Malibu beach house—all of it has been commandeered by social anthropologists looking to see whether her influence is enriching young girls' lives or offering dispiriting, stereotyped notions of femininity.

That debate took a turn for the worse in 1992, when Mattel released a teenaged variation of the doll that exclaimed “math class is tough!” Women’s groups were outraged, believing that Barbie was falling victim to harmful tropes that put a ceiling on both her intellect and that of her pre-teen consumers.

Though the phrase was just one of 270 the doll could utter at random—others included “I love school, don’t you?”—it received the brunt of media attention, including demands to recall the dolls. (Mattel apologized, but did not pull the dolls off shelves.)

The debate over whether Barbie had social responsibilities caught the attention of Igor Vamos, a student of visual arts at the University of California, San Diego. Vamos was intrigued by the idea of “cultural jamming,” a kind of analog hacking that upended conventional ideas to create controversy. If Barbie taught passivity and sexism with her complaints of math being hard, then perhaps she should be given a different script.

Vamos bought several dozen Teen Talk Barbies and Talking Duke figures from toy stores in California and New York. He and several other “operatives” dismantled the toys, performing a crude surgery that allowed them to switch the voice boxes buried in their bodies. Volunteers would use a knife to cut into the dolls' plastic skin, then modify the transistor of the Joe’s voice chip so it would fit into Barbie’s comparatively slimmer torso.

A screenshot of a G.I. Joe Talking Duke figure

21solo, YouTube

After repackaging the dolls, the team “shop-dropped,” surreptitiously restocking them on toy shelves in Albany, San Diego, and Walnut Creek, California. Each box had a piece of paper encouraging disgruntled parents to reach out to the media after discovering the toys weren’t gender-conforming. To speed things along, they also told friends to buy the dolls and make the calls. Then they waited.

Within weeks, adults confused by their child’s new toys did exactly what the B.L.O. suggested, telling local news affiliates that their Barbie was shouting attack commands and informing kids that “dead men tell no lies.” Duke, meanwhile, rebuffed war strategy, preferring to “plan our dream wedding.”

The ensuing media coverage is exactly what Vamos was hoping for. Calling the toys' gender roles “stone-aged,” the B.L.O. claimed responsibility, stayed anonymous, and hoped it would cause consumers to rethink the propagation of violence by male toys and the relatively vacuous ambitions of Barbie.

"Obviously, our goal is to get media attention,” a B.L.O. spokesperson told The New York Times. “We are trying to make a statement about the way toys can encourage negative behavior in children, particularly given rising acts of violence and sexism."

Vamos even supervised production of a video that used Barbie to spell out their mission. “They build us in a way that perpetuates gender-based stereotypes,” the toy said. “Those stereotypes have a negative effect on children’s development.”

 
 

While most considered the act harmless—the toys could, after all, be exchanged for an unadulterated version—not everyone believed the B.L.O.’s mission played fair. "I've got a very strong negative feeling about terrorist acts against children, no matter how noble the motives," Joanne Oppenheim, a toy industry advocate, told the Times. “It's a cheap shot, and it's unfair to the kids.” Others protested the general idea of product tampering.

Mattel and Hasbro were less rattled. Wayne Charness, then-vice president of Hasbro, called it “kind of ridiculous,” while Mattel refrained from commenting. Though the B.L.O. claimed to have tampered with hundreds of toys in 43 different states, the truth was that Vamos and his team had performed surgery on roughly 120 toys. But the media perpetuated the story, making it seem as though the stunt was pervasive.

The story died down after the holidays. The tampered toys were either returned or bought and discarded. Vamos kept his role in the stunt largely under wraps until years later, when he became a part of The Yes Men, a social disruption performance group, under the alias Mike Bonanno. Vamos is now a professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Was the stunt effective? Anecdotally, maybe. Media outlets like Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal profiled kids and parents who had been affected by the switch, including 7-year-old Zach, the recipient of a Barbie-possessed Duke. Asked if he wanted to return the toy, Zach said no: “He’s teaching me not to fight.”

Were kids really influenced by the toys to rethink gender portrayals, or were they yet another example of the B.L.O. manipulating the media by using an undercover operative to articulate their message? If Barbie knows, she isn't talking. 

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