Playmobil Slave Collar: Toy Sparks Outrage

Published: October 9, 2015

Playmobil Slave Collar: Toy Sparks Outrage, A Playmobil children’s toy set has sparked outcry after a concerned parent noticed that one of the figures resembled an African slave wearing a neck shackle.

Ida Lockett’s 5-year-old son was given the pirate ship set for his birthday. When she was helping him build it, she noticed that the instructions told her to put the shackle around the neck of a figure with dark skin.

“You cannot have this specific accessory and call it anything else. The fact that you can Google it, look it up, say what it is – it’s a slave collar,” Lockett told CBS Sacramento. “It’s definitely racist. It told my son to put a slave cuff around the black character’s neck, and then to play with the toy.”

Aimee Norman, the boy’s aunt who gave him the set, wrote on Facebook that she was “mortified” when she found out.

“Would it be too much to ask for you to just create a regular old black pirate?” she wrote on Playmobil’s page. “People of African descent have contributed to mankind in a myriad of ways that existed outside of the disgusting institution of the slave trade. Selling children’s toys that are suggestive of slavery in play is obscene, even moreso given the marked absence of diversity in your entire toy line.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, Playmobile explained that the toy, which also features a dungeon, was intended to be historically accurate.

“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. The figure was meant to represent a pirate who was a former slave in a historical context. It was not our intention to offend anyone in anyway.”
The toy has been sharply criticized since Lockett’s complaint, including by the president of the Sacramento NAACP, who called for it to be banned.

Others think the entire controversy has been blown out of proportion,

“You do realize that pirates took slaves & prisoners of all races right?” one woman wrote on the Playmobil USA Facebook page. “If you don’t like the idea of pirates and slaves/prisoners then a pirate ship toy is not for you. Also a child has imaginative play and can easily make said character anything he/she wants them to be. Throw away the offending pieces.”


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