Toy companies are always looking to diversify their inventory, because it helps fatten up the bottom line. That usually just means cheap re-paints or color shifts, but sometimes they let the "creatives" run wild and we end up with some truly racist toys. Sure, in a few cases it might just be simple oversight, but in others the overt stereotype shines through loud and clear.
And while racist action figures might have passed muster a few decades ago – even though they shouldn't have – surely we have moved past those dark times, right? Not so. There are still plenty of toys that are racist popping up on shelves today, and it's a solid bet the trend isn't going away anytime soon. Sure some of these examples might be accidental racism, but come on, y'all. We should be better than this.
If you've ever dreamed of being a racist stereotype for Halloween, you're in luck. Also, you're terrible, and you need to get your priorities straight. If the above pictures of young white girls on the packaging didn't tip you off, these makeup sets are also intended for racist children, too.
As if the afro on the African-American packaging isn't bad enough, they doubled down on the Native American stereotypes by throwing in a bunch of war paint. They even called it an "Indian Disguise." Way to offend two different groups of people with one disgustingly broad brush stroke.
Disney has a bit of a... horrendously terrible track record when it comes to racist cartoons, so it's not really surprising when prejudice seeps into their products as well. They pulled a Moana Halloween costume in 2016, but this snafu takes the cake.
As you can see in the above image, the white princess is hawking vanilla flavored dip sticks, of course, and Princess Tiana is shilling the watermelon flavoring. You'd like to believe it was an accident, but there are no less than 10,000 other flavors they could've picked here. No one associates vanilla with watermelon! Even chocolate, which would have also been pretty bad, would have at least made a kind of sense.
Playmobil is a German toy manufacturer that set up shop in the '70s, back when there was still an East and West Germany. In 2015, they released a popular Pirate Ship playset that caused quite a stir. The reason for the outrage? The set included a slave.
And just to underline the point, the instructions even demonstrated how to properly apply the neck shackle to your very own pirate ship slave. The company responded thusly: "If you look at the box, you can see that the pirate figure is clearly a crew member on the pirate ship and not a captive." Really? So the shackle is just a fashionable choker? Apparently, Playmobil thinks pirate crews have the same fashion sense as middle school girls shopping at Hot Topic in the early 2000s.
Mattel partnered up with Nabisco and Oreo to release a special edition Barbie, intended to be gobbled up by collectors and ignored by the general populace. While the doll looks harmless enough, the brilliant creative team at Mattel overlooked one small detail: "Oreo" is a derogatory term given to African-Americans who "act white," because they're "black" on the outside and "white" on the inside. This probably wouldn't have happened if Mattel had hired literally one black toy designer, or had any person of color involved in the decision making.