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The People vs. Toys ‘R’ Us

October 22, 2014

The famous plaything purveyor has landed in hot water at least three times in recent years. Here’s a few of the most controversial moments in the recent history of Toys “R” Us.

Breaking Bad Action Figures

Breaking Bad Action FigureThis autumn, a line of action figures targeted at adults based on the hit AMC drama were ousted from Toys “R” Us. The figures, which come with little plastic accessories like bags of money and packages of methamphetamines, drew the ire of a Florida mother named Susan Schrivjer. She started an online petition demanding that Toys “R” Us stop selling them in its stores and website, which argued that the figures were a “dangerous deviation from their family friendly values.” It drew over 8,000 signatures, and the toys were ultimately pulled. (Another petition, in favor of the dolls, attracted more than 3,000 signatures.) When the show’s star, Bryan Cranston, heard about the controversy, he posted on Twitter: “I’m so mad. I am burning my Florida mom action figure in protest.”

The “Meet the Trees” Commercial

In 2013, Toys “R” Us was roundly criticized for an ill-conceived commercial. When a group of kids find themselves on an educational field trip, they start yawning and rolling their eyes. They’re clearly bored out of their minds until the trip’s coordinator reveals that he actually works for a certain retail chain and their school bus is really headed to the nearest Toys ‘R’ Us. The rest of the commercial features the kids running through the aisles and grabbing various playsets off the store’s shelves instead of learning about nature. Stephen Colbert took aim at the ad on The Colbert Report. “This commercial shows kids the ‘great outdoors’ [are] nothing compared to the majesty of a strip mall,” he said.

The One Million Moms Brouhaha

The conservative political action group threatened to boycott Toys ‘R’ Us in 2012. Why? Because they didn’t want the chain to carry an Archie comic book that featured an openly gay character named Kevin Keller marrying his boyfriend. Their plans backfired. The comic stayed put, the entire print run sold out, and the would-be controversy was mocked in a later issue of Archie.

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