PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the fight for equality, a toymaker in Scranton is taking a classic toy and breaking the mold. Green, plastic soldiers have been a favorite among children for decades, and soon, those Army men will be expanded to include Army women.
“I served seven years in the United States Army,” Cinquetta Brown said.
Brown is part of a proud sisterhood that makes up the approximately 2 million female veterans in the United States.
“The military came in looking for my brother and he’s the only boy in my family so everyone was like no, mom and dad was like no, he was like no and I was like ‘Well, I’ll go,'” Brown said.
Brown’s Army aspirations came suddenly at 20 years old. But it’s an idea that 6-year-old Vivian Lord from Little Rock, Arkansas has long toyed around with.
Vivian loves playing with the iconic little green Army men, but she noticed something. The toy Army men were all men. So she got to writing.
“Why do you not make girl Army men? I would play with them everyday and my friends would too! Thank you!” Vivian’s letter to BMC Toys read.
The letter she wrote was addressed to the figurines’ maker, Jeff Imel, of the Scranton-based BMC Toys.
“Every kid wants to be the hero of their own story,” Imel said.
It turns out he was already working on an idea to make sets that include female Army figures.
“We did some rough sketches to see if people would like it. We moved into some more detailed drawings,” Imel said.
With Vivian’s push, the prototype for the female Army figurines is already complete.
Deborah Harmon-Pugh runs the Philadelphia-based advocacy organization Women Veterans Rock, and teaches at Chestnut Hill College.
“They put on a uniform, they go serve their country but then we have to think about all the things that they leave behind,” Harmon-Pugh said.
Female veterans face unique challenges, but at least now there will be some well-earned recognition.
“I see it as never accepting no as an answer,” Brown said.
That’s something Vivian has learned and will continue to when her new co-ed soldiers arrive.
“Thank you for doing this, it made me so happy,” Vivian said.
The green Army women will be available for purchase by the 2020 holiday season.