When we had our son, I was determined – as a forward-thinking, open-minded mother of the 21st century – to offer him both toys that were traditionally “boy” (trucks, tools) and traditionally “girl” (dolls, magic wands).
Not to say that Big B wasn’t supportive of this gender-neutral approach to play, but he did laugh and gloat more than just a little when The K Man rejected everything girly. I tried, many times, to introduce dolls – but he wasn’t having any of it. We even received a knit boy “doll” named Sonny when he was about 18 months old. Sonny now lives in Miss Q’s room – her brother was never interested.
So when the folks at MGA Entertainment (via Paradigm PR) offered to send me a Lalaloopsy doll for The K Man, I had my doubts. I mean, I’ve seen Lalaloopsy dolls at Toys ‘R Us – as I’m ushered swiftly through the aisles by my three-year-old Thomas the Tank Engine-loving lad to the train section – and they’re really dolls-y dolls.
I admit, while we waited for Forest Evergreen to arrive, I really whooped him up. And I never once called him a doll. I told The K Man that Forest Evergreen was a really cool lumberjack who likes maple syrup so much that he puts it on everything – even French fries. I made this last bit up; there’s nothing about French fries in the marketing materials.
Forest Evergreen comes with a pet beaver. All innuendo aside, this generated one of the biggest laughs I’ve had as a parent of a talking child to date. It was perhaps day three since Forest’s arrival and The K Man was playing with him and this beaver – who wears a red toque (how Canadian of him!) – while I prepared breakfast. Mumbling some kind of narrative, he eventually called me over to where they were playing and asked, in all seriousness, holding up the beaver: “Mommy, is this Justin Beaver?” Not that I have anything against the Bieb, but we don’t subscribe to Bieber Fever in this house – no CDs to speak of, no passing videos caught on MuchMusic. So I have no idea where he would have come up with this, but suffice it to say that I laughed and laughed have re-told that story to anyone who’ll listen. And we’ve called that beaver Justin Beaver ever since.
When I asked The K Man what he liked most about Forest Evergreen, he told me: “His spiky hair. It’s really cool.” He even asked me to style his own hair like Forest’s when he takes him to preschool this week for show and tell. As an aside, I think it’s safe to assume that a toy has made it to the big time in a child’s mind when it makes the show and tell cut.
He’s a cute little guy, with lots of attention to detail. Great packaging, button eyes, a fun outfit complete with leather-look suspenders – it all works and still comes off as quite boyish.
Forest also comes with a picture of his home and personal info. It reminded me of the Cabbage Patch Kids‘ birth certificates we got when I was a kid; it helps you connect a bit more to the personality of the doll. Er, lumberjack. I have overheard lots of imaginative play using Forest’s traits – mostly about maple syrup. Even Justin Beaver likes maple syrup, you know.
Forest can’t sit up on his own. With hip joints that move, I thought he would be able to sit on a ledge or on the floor – but no go. He’s got a big noggin and I think this throws his centre of gravity way off. Not sure how a doll engineer remedies this but it would be nice for tea parties (yep, still trying to coax non-gender-specific play in this house!).
I read online that there’s a mini Forest Evergreen who comes with an axe, saw and tree stump. For $34.99 (at least in Canada), the makers of Lalaloopsy should really throw those items in with the larger product, too. If the idea is to encourage creative play, props help.
So…where can you buy it?
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