Earlier this week, Susan Schrijver of Fort Myers, Fla., filed a petition on change.org, a website that hosts a variety of petitions on a large array of topics. The short but blunt petition, which reached 9,299 signatures yesterday, called for the removal of what Schrivjer called “inappropriate” action figures based on the AMC television series “Breaking Bad.”
The petition was created after Schrivjer, a mother herself, found the dolls in the aisles of this store. As a result, Toys R Us removed the action figures from its shelves. However, it was irresponsible for the store to sell the dolls in the first place.
Toys R Us responded by removing the action figures from all of its stores. Though the petition had few signatures compared to many of the other petitions on the website, Toys R Us was swift to take action and show commitment to its customer base.
The action figures feature characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, along with a variety of accessories, including gas masks, a bag of money and even a bag of blue methamphetamine, and should not have been on the store’s shelves in the first place.
Drugs are not items that parents want their children exposed to. Explaining to a child why they won’t buy the action figures does not seem like a difficult conversation for parents to have. However, standing in an aisle of a toy store is not the ideal place for parents to have a conversation about drugs with a child.
The action figures were originally only in one section of the store, which was targeted toward an older audience. Some could argue that these action figures were clearly not for children.
In a store with the slogan “where a kid can be a kid,” the fact it was on a different aisle does not matter.
This logic may be acceptable for certain types of items, such as action figures from PG-13 movies such as “The Avengers” that have a wide audience base, as the characters in the movie are also featured in other cartoons on children’s networks like Disney XD.
Even so, Daniel Pickett from Manhattan Beach started a petition asking Toys R Us not to remove the action figures from its shelves. He claimed Toys R Us is for kids of all ages.
Regardless of Pickett’s inner kid, he should understand that certain topics are not for children. It is not Toys R Us’ job to introduce children to drugs. Even though the action figures had a 15-years-and-up label, any child can still see the figurine.
For a show such as “Breaking Bad,” however, which boasts a variety of mature content including intense violence and the extensive use of dangerous and illegal drugs, such an action figure appeals only to an older audience base.
In that same vein, there are still other inappropriate action figures on Toys R Us shelves. Figures from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” are still being sold. This show features blood, gore and a lot of violence, which is not unlike “Breaking Bad.” Perhaps Toys R Us should evaluate the other action figures it sells in order to maintain a consistent stance on what is and is not appropriate for children.
Ultimately, it should not be up to a petition to make this kind of change in the store; Toys R Us executives must make these decisions before the figures hit shelves.
As a private corporation, Toys R Us has the right to sell whatever it wants in its stores. However, as a company that sells products and toys specifically marketed toward children, the company has a special responsibility to keep their customers in mind when selling these action figures and other similar toys.