Big Fat Toy Chest

The Rotund recently meditated on the lack of fat dolls in the Asian BJD (Ball jointed doll) community. Ball joints actually have a different meaning for me, as I happen to collect action figures myself. Although its probably not that much different. Looking at the construction of these dolls, I'd probably have more readily identified them as a style of action figure. I'm not surprised that there are no fat ones available, but just as disappointed as TR. As fat people are underrepresented in popular culture, its no shock that fat characters are underrepresented in the toy market which draws so much from popular culture. Even a boutique line of toys like those TR describes would still be a symptom of the wider issues in our society.

All the same, I actually do have a number of fat action figures. Most notably, a wide variety of wrestling figures of various shapes and sizes. These WWE action figures are what is known as "mass market" toys. Mass market toys frequently reuse parts between characters and generally have less detailing than specialty market toys or the high-end dolls mentioned at "The Rotund". With the wrestlers, two different characters can have the same exact body, for instance, with only a different head and paint decoration. Initially, they only drew upon a small handful of parts which predictably showcased an unrealistic male physique. Unrealistic, even, for some of the wrestlers they figures represented. But the same torsos were used again and again.

An interesting thing, though, sprung up with toy collectors. They clamored actively for more realistic bodies. These toys were representational, after all. There were real people behind the toys and collectors wanted them to more closely match. So the company started introducing torsos beyond "muscular" and "more muscular". First a barrel-chested torso (though which still featured overly defined muscles), but followed there by a quite fat torso originally designed for the 600 lb. wrestler "Yokozuna".

They seemed content, though, to use a torso designed for a 600 lb. man for anyone 300lbs an up thereafter, but again collectors demanded more. They didn't just want a catch-all "fat" torso. They wanted the parts to represent a wide variety of physiques. They wanted a smaller "fat" sculpt used for big but not superfat wrestlers. They wanted a shirt and tie for larger wrestlers. They even wanted torsos of a more average size without the exaggerated definition that marked so many of the wrestling figures. The company responding with all of this and its been very warmly received by the collecting community.

I don't kid myself into thinking these collectors were pro-fat in any meaningful way. Yet, they wanted the toys to accurately represented the people portrayed. An idealized image wasn't desired. Rather, the collectors kept asking for accuracy and honesty. I found that interesting in its own right, that so many people wanted these toys to be fat if that's what the person was. They wanted reality, not fantasy. Though hardly a victory for fat acceptance, I still think incidents like that tell us a lot about how big businesses underestimate pop culture consumers by thinking we want an idealized reality and not simply reality.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.