Customers sometimes ask us why the dolls and play figures we sell are predominantly white. We're aware of the problem and it's something we're trying to address. But it's not always easy! For example one of our core brands, Ostheimer, takes inspiration from German mythology, so their knights and kings and queens are always going to be white. The same is true of Grimm’s, another brand with its roots in the vernacular style and pale woods of traditional German toy-making.
We also believe that overt conversations about race (or gender, or sexual preferences) are difficult to tackle head-on with the under-fives, who know nothing of prejudice and don’t yet have the necessary level of understanding around what are entirely adult constructs. We believe we can leave full-on discussions of race and racism for when they're older, and that at this stage it is best to focus on developing emotional intelligence and good social skills, building on ideas of caring and sharing, and generally being a nice person, rather than drawing attention to any potentially confusing or distressing notions of discrimination.
We try to provide the props for this approach via some of our other standout brands, in particular Moulin Roty. This thoughtful yet often delightfully silly range encompasses a diverse cast of characters, dolls and figures, which allow children to absorb ideas of difference in a passive and playful way.
Many of our Moulin-Roty characters are animals who are expertly anthropomorphised - dogs on two legs and crocodiles with moustaches - and come in a rainbow of colours, shapes and textures. Many are also clustered into small groups, some are families such as the Mirabelles, but there are also musical bands and groups of friends such as the bohemian Broc’n’Rolls , inviting children to construct their own stories around familiar groups and characters.
Other Moulin Roty characters reflect in a gently generic way, some of the classic fairytale characters such as a princess, a wolf and a magician (who is also an owl). This allows children to take inspiration from these stories without necessarily finding their imagination is restricted by the tales’ existing parameters. While further Moulin Roty products in our range include shadow puppets, hand puppets, children’s theatres and play sets such as the wooden tool kit and the spotty tea service - all of them allowing children’s imagination to soar in a non-prescriptive way.
It’s because of this warm approach to inclusivity and diversity, along with a fastidious but fun commitment to open-ended play, that Moulin Roty is one of our family’s firm favourites.
Forest school fun in your garden with HABA tools
An introduction to Maileg
An introduction to Grapat
Introducing Peaceable Kingdom: Non-competitive board games
Focus On: Ostheimer
An Introduction to Grimm's Toys