Battle of the dolls hots up

08 August 2016 - 16:29 By Buchule Raba

The battle of the dolls is hotting up as more African entrants enter the market. And there may soon be a doll for the lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual and transgender community‚ depending on community demand. And there may soon be a doll for the lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual and transgender community‚ depending on community feedback. The founder of Ntombentle Dolls‚ Molemo Kgomo‚ said when that she started with her doll range over 10 years‚ she did classify them as ethnic dolls."I launched in 2005 but could not get a store that was interested in stocking African/black dolls. As a result‚ I sold the dolls through word-of-mouth and help from family."I relaunched again in 2015 and had an amazing response as the market and the people are so ready‚" Kgomo told TMG Digital.Kgomo said that there were plans to introduce dolls for LGBT market."It's something I am still working on and I need to speak with people in the community to ask how they feel about it. I don't want to bring something in a positive light and be taken in the wrong way‚" said Kgomo.Kgomo said that she wanted to make sure that she does not offend anyone and has not made a decision yet. Jenny da Silva‚ a child Psychologist from Childpsych‚ warned that such a project needed to be approached with much research and care."For example we cannot distinguish a person who is gay/lesbian/bisexual from the rest of the community so why would we label a doll as lesbian or gay? This may‚ if we are not careful cause segregation instead of the inclusivity and understanding we wish to achieve."Da Silva said that in a therapeutic context a transgender doll may prove useful and help children and their parents who are transgender."This is a very sensitive issue as sexuality and gender is a very central part of what it is to be human. We must be extremely careful not to create unnecessary labels that could possibly lead to more bias. However‚ I do believe that more research is needed in this field and to take this on a case by case basis‚" Da Silva said.Whether or not Kgomo goes ahead with her LGBT range‚ she's already facing some competition in the ethnic dolls market.International model and Malaville Toys founder‚ Mala Bryan‚ recently launched her first collection of ethnic dolls here.Chief Operating Officer of Toy Kingdom SA Grant Webster said that they partnered with Bryan who embarked on this initiative because she believed that parents should not struggle to find ethnic dolls."Children use dolls [to] play out scenarios from their lives. When parents give a child a doll that looks like them‚ they are affirming that there are people in the world like them. Having dolls across all ethnic groups will guide and teach all children to be open minded that all people are different and will encourage them to want to learn more about cultural differences‚ as well as strengthen children's awareness for their ethnicity‚" Webster said. He said each Malaville doll comes with a description of her own unique background and personality traits."Bryan has not made reference to poverty or wealth in this collection. She focused on creating beautiful dolls of colour with their own unique backgrounds that are accessible to parents and represent racial diversity in the doll market." Webster said that Malaville dolls had no association with the LGBT community. "We are aware of these brands but have not entered into any discussions at this time. We are happy to do so once presented or contacted. We are also working with the creator of Baby Thando Dolls [Nonhlanhla Mthethwa‚ co-founder of Girlz Ink] to help her develop her range and packaging‚" said Webster. Price for ethnic dolls range from range from R399.95 for Malaville dolls at Toy Kingdom to R260 for Ntombentle dolls which represents the following eight South African cultures: Zulu‚ Sotho‚ Pedi‚ Swazi‚ Ndebele‚ Venda‚ Tsonga and Xhosa are R260.00 from TMG Digital

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