Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is “Offensive” At Toys “R” Us?

Today, with 20/20’s David Muir as my inspiration, I visited the Toys “R” Us down the street from where I work, equipped with my camera.

I wanted to find out what other potentially offensive and/or inappropriate toys can currently be found there.

Of course, the reason this is relevant is because headlines are revolving around concerned parents who do not approve of Breaking Bad action figures being sold at Toys “R” Us: Over 7,000 parents signed a petition to get the store to stop selling those toys.

They believe that the characters, like Walter White, who began selling meth to provide for his family after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, should have no place in a “kids’” toy store.

Appropriately, or should I say inappropriately, the Walter White action figure comes with a bag of meth as one of his accessories.

I get it that that’s not something I would want my nearly 4 year-old son playing with.

However, I wanted to explore the situation to make sure there’s not a double standard in place here…

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

In other words, if certain parents are concerned over Breaking Bad action figures, does that mean they’re okay with other toys that are currently being sold there and have been being sold there?

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

Let’s take a look at what I found…

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

Near the front of the store are the video games. As you can see, several of them have the “M for Mature” rating, containing profanity, sexual content, nudity, alcohol, drugs, gore, and violence.

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

As far as other action figures, Toys “R” Us also sells The Walking Dead (which is another popular show from AMC) in which you can run over a zombie with a motorcycle, Game of Thrones (which I hear is full of nudity), Chucky (a violent, possessed doll) and Friday the 13th  (featuring the popular serial killer, Jason Voorhies).

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/10/21/357841739/toys-r-us-under-fire-for-breaking-bad-action-figures

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

Notice all the weapons here too; all currently for sale at Toys “R” Us. Granted, there is an indicator on each of these packages to tell you what age is appropriate for a child to have the toy.

But still, if we are to find these toys offensive anyway, I suppose the age indicator is slightly irrelevant.

Please note that these toys are in the same aisle as WWE wrestling action figures and Ninja Turtles.

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

Which, speaking of…

I quickly saw the slippery slope here…

The age indicator tells me that Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and GI Joe are all appropriate for children under the age of 10.

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

So I suppose the weapons are excusable because they are used to fight the bad guys… though you can just as easily buy them too, along with their weapons.

I feel like I’m definitely seeing some double standards here. This is my understanding:

There are people who are upset about Breaking Bad action figures being carried at Toys “R” Us because that glorifies drugs and violence.

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

However, Toys “R” Us has been selling video games that contain profanity, sexual content, nudity, alcohol, drugs and violence that is easily arguably much worse that what is featured in the series Breaking Bad.

An action figure is just a representation; whereas a video game actually shows the content on the TV screen.

You can’t buy the Breaking Bad DVD series at Toys “R” Us, but you can buy these video games show here.

Not to mention, our society quickly dismisses the toy weapons of characters which cater towards children, in the name of self-defense and military.

If we should be offended Breaking Bad, shouldn’t we also be offended by the other stuff too, to some degree? Where do we cross the line? Apparently, with a bag of meth as an accessory… but not all this other stuff.

Aside From Breaking Bad Action Figures, What Else Is "Offensive" At Toys R Us?

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A) Why I Could Never Be a Cartoon Character, and B) Who I Would Be If I Was an Action Figure

Granted, most cartoon characters only have four fingers on each hand and wear the same outfit everyday.  So in that case, none of us (assuming…) could be a cartoon character, accordingly.  But with action figures, it’s a whole different story.

Since the 7th grade, I haven’t been able to commit to a haircut.  I am constantly growing my hair out to a new hairstyle until it eventually gets too long and I start back over again with a buzz cut.  There is a progressive series of hairstyles I go by that has been subconsciously modeled after Jewish actors (I have an Asperger-like obsession with all things Jewish; most people have learned to overlook it by now).  I start with the David Schwimmer, then Zack Effron, next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, then David Arquette/Bronson Pinchot, and lastly, the Zack Braff.  But it’s not just the lack of a consistent hairstyle that prevents me from being a cartoon character who looks the same day after day, throughout the years.  I’ve got three different pairs of glasses, though often I don’t wear them at all.  Plus an enviable collection of hats, from ball caps to fedoras to “old man caps”.  Sometimes I grow a beard for a week or two.  I’m just not a physically consistent kind of guy.

Last week, I went back to the Nashville Chocolate Kitchen after having visited there for the first time a week ago, and when I walked in, the staff remembered me by name (which in addition to their unimaginably awesome gourmet sweet treats, is one of the things they are known for).  I was impressed that they recognized me since the first time was I there, they met the “glasses off, hair pushed-to-the-side” version of me and this time it was the “glasses on, hair pushed back” version.  I felt compelled to explain my change in appearance to them, but I refrained since they obviously could handle it.

I just think that I particularly don’t have what it takes to be comfortable in being physically consistent regarding my appearance.  Like The Boss says in his 1984 hit “Dancing in the Dark”, “Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself… I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face.”

But my realization is ultimately that I am not an easily recognizable person, in general. My hair, clothes, and accessories just simply help distract fro my indistinguishableness.  I am a default-looking man of classic proportions; like the host of a show on The Food Network or HGTV.  Since being featured in American Baby magazine this month, I’ve had more than one person tell me they didn’t realize that was me until they saw my name- the picture didn’t clue them in at all.

I try to imagine if I was an action figure based on a fictional character, who I would be.  Throughout the past decade, countless people have told me I look like Clark Kent.  And I see that, but the problem is that Clark Kent was already a large muscular man in a business suit, before turning into Superman.  At 5’ 9” and weighing in the low 150’s, I have a frame similar to Bruce Springsteen or Greg Kinnear.

So maybe Peter Parker (Spiderman) is the best option.  Though I could be Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall).  Or Bruce Banner on The Incredible Hulk TV series (played by Bill Bixby).  Or Maxwell Smart of Get Smart and/or Inspector Gadget (both played/voiced by Jewish actor Don Adams- surprisingly, I have also been told many times I look like both).  I would totally make a better action figure than I would a cartoon character because action figures typically have several different versions of themselves: There’s He-Man in his robe (Adam), He-Man with the revolving chest as it gets damaged (Battle Armor), “Flying Fists” He-Man…  But cartoons typically never change.  (Maggie Simpson is like 21 years old in human years, “but in Simpson years”, she’s still a baby.)

I am easily disguisable.  Coincidently, it’s in my nature to be a chameleon; not only in appearance but also in personality.  I would make a great spy.  If nothing else, I can very easily get away with going back every five minutes to get more free samples at grocery stores.

Unsurprisingly, I enlisted the help of facebook friends by asking them this question: “If I was an action figure based on a fictional character, who would I be? In other words, which action figure would you choose to best represent me?”  Interestingly, they mostly named powerful intellectual mutants.  I’ll take that as a compliment.  But it’s funny to see how their perception differs from mine.  My choices were pretty much normal men without superpowers or super strength.

Who others said should represent me as an action figure:

Clark Kent

The Beast from X-Men

Leonardo, the leader of the Ninja Turtles

Captain Planet (nice underwear!)

My Buddy

Stretch Armstrong

 

Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of The Fantastic Four)

Maxwell Smart, the only fully human action figure any other person said I reminded them of

Who I said should represent me:

Peter Parker (before he turns into Spiderman)

Sam Witwicky (played by Jewish actor Shia LaBeouf in the Transformers movies)

Dexter Morgan

Bruce Banner (before he gets P.O.'d about Nancy Pelosi and turns into The Incredible Hulk)

But really… I’m just glad no one said Pee Wee Herman!

 

Manspeak, Volume 5: Movement

There are several obvious things that men are universally drawn to: women, sports, food, and watching bloody movies.  And then there are some that are less obvious, but just as common:  made-up handshakes and insulting/weird nicknames for each other, lying around for a good solid hour when we get home from work everyday, and not noticing little details like the pillows on the couch being out of place.


And here’s another one that is rarely noticed or acknowledged: Men are wired to want to help people move.  A few weeks ago I helped my good friend and neighbor Dave move to a rental apartment as he and his wife are in the process of building their first house.  I was expecting to see just a few more of our friends there.  Instead, there were about 20 of us there that Saturday morning.


As I run in my neighborhood, there have been several instances in the last few weeks where I encountered people who needed help moving a new TV or a shelf from their car into their house.  They saw a sweaty guy running laps and assumed I can handle the job.  I just hope they didn’t mind their TV smelling like sweat.


I have never been bothered by anyone who has everyone asked me to help them move.  In fact, in a way it’s almost an honor to be recruited:  There are unspoken, underlying, suggested compliments which translate to “You’re a strong guy/I need your strength/you are needed/you have what it takes/not just anyone can do this job for me, but you can”.


It doesn’t require a lot of strength or skill from a man.  But it does require a man who’s willing to forgo sleeping in on a Saturday morning, showing up in a cheesy t-shirt with sleeves cut off exposing his random bicep tattoo.  And while females are definitely capable of helping a person move, it’s a calling that men instantly respond to.  Like the same magnetic force causing men’s fists to want to punch Spencer Pratt in the face, it also draws them to pick up an end of the couch and cautiously walk backwards towards the truck.


Deprived of using our able bodies in the modern work force (most of us sit in front of a computer all day), our male ancestors actually “worked” for a living.  They got a daily workout by farming and building the cities we now live in.  Life in air conditioning is nothing to complain about, but there is the lack of physical stress that makes a person desire to actually use their muscles; hence gym membership and hobbies involving sports.


Men must move for things to happen.  Whether it’s moving off the recliner and involving himself with his family, or moving his family to where he can find a better job to provide for them.  Maybe it all goes back to the action figures we had as kids.  We didn’t mimic family life the way our sisters did with Barbies and baby dolls.  Our GI Joes, Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars action figures were on a mission.  To kick some bad guy butt.


Men are action figures.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


Star Wars