Disclaimer: I am an Episcopalian with a great respect for science. If you believe the world was literally (rather than metaphorically) created in six days 6,000 years ago, you may wish to stop reading at this point, as I will be talking about evolution. Caveat lector.
The toy store where I’m working during the Christmas season has a wonderful line of friction-powered vehicles made by WOW Toys (http://www.wowtoys.com/). Among them are a garbage truck named Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred, a tractor named Harvey Harvester, and construction vehicles named Dudley Dump Truck and Dexter the Digger. Bright colors, sturdy materials, gender-diverse people to go in them, no batteries required. Apart from the lack of racial diversity and the fact that they’re manufactured in China (though designed in Great Britain), I have no complaints. There are even vehicles targeted to girls, although there’s certainly nothing to stop you from buying your little girl a Fireball Frankie instead of a Whiz-Around Amy. I considered one of their vehicles for my toddler-age niece but settled on other gifts instead.
But then, there’s Jurassic Jimmy. A jeep piloted by a Cro-Magnon man (at least I think he’s Cro-Magnon; he doesn’t look Neanderthal to me), with a trailer behind and a space in the trailer for a cute little purple Apatosaurus. I grew up watching and enjoying “The Flintstones,” and later, “Dinosaurs,” but Jurassic Jimmy still annoys me. You see, most boys and many girls in WOW’s target demographic (ages 1 1/2-5) think dinosaurs are incredibly cool. Said children also ask a lot of questions, and may well get around to asking whether dinosaurs and humans were ever around at the same time. A thoughtful parent will say, “No,” and give a preschool-appropriate explanation of the different theories why dinosaurs became extinct, then conclude by saying that human beings have only been on Earth for four and a half million years. The child will listen to his (I’m being presumptuous and assuming it’s a boy simply based on my own experience) parent, then look at his toy, and experience some cognitive dissonance.
I should probably be equally annoyed by George’s Dragon Tale, which has a knight and – you guessed it – a dragon. But for some reason, I’m not. Maybe I read too much medieval literature in college.