Gifts That Look Like Me

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I know recently there’s been a backlash against the whole Elf on a Shelf phenomenon. If you aren’t a parent, then you might not know what I’m talking about. Elf on the Shelf is a book that comes with an elf. The story goes that the elf watches the children during the day and then at night returns to the North Pole to tell Santa if the kids have been naughty or nice. The fun part (and some mommies and daddies with way too much time on their hands have gone crazy with this) is that the parents are supposed to move it every night so that in the morning the kids know he (or she, there are female elfs too) have reported to Santa and returned. (Mine came back last night and got stuck in the ceiling fan.) I’m not going to get into the criticism about the Elf on the shelf, but let me just say that I agree with this Huffington Post writer.

The reason I bring up Elf on a Shelf though is because when my wife was shopping for it, we were saddened to find out that they didn’t come in Asian. They had an African American elf, a Latino elf, and of course a blond hair/blued eye elf. We considered buying the Latino elf, since it was closer to my son’s skin color than the white one, but the book (and I presume the DVD that accompanies the book) was in Spanish.

My son will be fine that our elf, Monkey (part of the fun is that the kids are supposed to pick a name for their elf… my little one named ours “Monkey,” don’t ask), doesn’t look like him—but it got me thinking, what toys out there are available for Asian American kids that kinda look like them? I’m not going to get into the question of whether they are useful/important in the development of a healthy Asian American child’s identity, but it was quite a sad to see how few there actually were.

First, I want to say that ignored all the ones in “traditional dress” like this one:

shopping

Or the ridiculously racist ones likes this I found on Amazon.

fastening doll

I can’t believe they make dolls like this anymore.

And finally, of course, I can’t create a list of Asian American toys without mentioning that American Doll stopped making an Asian doll a little while back. Check out this very informative article on NBC News.

American doll

So without further ado, here are my top five toys :

#5: Asian American Barbie for President:

for president

Say what you will about Barbie, I was surprised to see that they had made this doll. Granted, it was a while ago, it is still nice to see.

#4: McFarlane’s Field Medic: 

medic

My only complaint–and the only reason it’s not higher on this list–why does he have to be a medic?

#3: Fisher Price Asian Family

fisher price

This comment on Amazon says why this needs to exist: “This item was purchased with the Fisher Price My First Dollhouse, which included a Caucasian family. My granddaughter was adopted from China, so her mom wanted to include an Asian family as part of the gift. My granddaughter loves it! The pieces are large and easy to handle, and they are beautifully made. Very pleased with this!”

#2: GI Joe WWII 442nd Japanese American Soldiers

442 soldier

I hope nothing needs to be said about this one.

#1: JC Toy Dolls like this one:

doll

This doll is cute and very realistic looking. And this wasn’t the only one. This whole list could have just been JC Asian babies.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ksakai1 

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Author: Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.