One by one, companies are agreeing to manufacture disabled dolls thanks to a small but incredibly vocal group of parent advocates who use a Facebook page to organise themselves.
Toy Like Me‘s Facebook page only has 17,000 followers, but their members have successfully convinced global toy company Playmobil and British 3D-printing company Makies to start creating dolls that are physically impaired.
Makies specialises in 3D-printing custom dolls. They announced on May 13 that they’d start offering three disabled characters named Hetty, Eva, and Melissa, in response to a Toy Like Me campaign.
Makies’ Melissa doll has a hand-painted facial birthmark which can be customised on request. She costs $US126.29. Eva is a visually impaired character who comes with a cane and glasses for $US126.29. Hetty comes with hot pink hearing aids and costs $US121.76.
Because the dolls are manufactured using 3D printing, it only takes 24 hours to create each one, a spokesperson from Makies told Business Insider, and orders are shipped within 10 business days. Customers can also purchase hearing aids and canes separately.
Makies is working on creating cochlear implants and insulin pumps for the dolls next, the spokesperson said. They also make surface customisations available, similar to the Melissa doll’s birthmark.
On May 28, Playmobil joined in, announcing that they’d start creating disabled toys thanks to the Toy Like Me campaign, according to Gizmodo.
“We are in the planning stages to release a PLAYMOBIL set which will include characters with disabilities, with part of the profits to be donated to a charity hand selected by Toy Like Me,” Playmobil announced on its UK Facebook page. “And moving forward, we will be looking into including more characters with disabilities in our ranges.”
The parents of disabled children also use the “Toy Like Me” Facebook page, as a kind of online support group, where they point each other toward playthings designed especially for children who have disabilities.
“Would love to see a toy or two for insulin dependent children with diabetes on insulin pumps,” one parent posted on the group’s page. Another parent posted a photo of a Fischer Price wheelchair toy, sized for that company’s dolls.
Parents using Toy Like Me also encourage each other to DIY their own disabled dolls.
“We know mums, dads, and kids have been making over their own toys with disabilities for an age,” a post from the group reads. “What else can you do when the toy industry have been ignoring the 150 million kids with disabilities worldwide for so long?”
The post shows a “Charlie doll with lower arm amputation” made by a parent named Helen Hamston.
Now that the UK-based group has tackled Makies and Playmobil, they’re setting their sights on even bigger toy companies: