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Boys Will Be Boys!
Boys' and girls' toy preferences begin to appear as early as 18 months. When children see mainly boys (or mainly girls) playing with a toy, they classify that toy as a boy's (or girl's) toy—it's in this way that a toy becomes gender-typed through 'peer modeling.' In addition, preferences for gender-type toys often relate to parental behaviour, or to the parents' influence as role models. When parents have an open mind toward toys and play, it's more probable that their child will, too.

In recent years, we've seen the play preferences of girls and boys move closer, especially regarding play with sports-related toys and pretend kitchens. Boys, as well as girls, will just as quickly want to prepare a pretend meal as they will kick a soccer ball!

Although boys and girls play together, they often prefer to play with children of the same gender. Boys between the ages of 3 and 8 years old like to play 'rough and tumble' games, running and chasing after each other; their play involves a high level of activity. And yet, they will just as likely be interested in using their imaginations to create magnificent paintings with crayons, markers or poster paints. In addition, they enjoy getting involved in quieter activities such as building with blocks or playing with action figures, cars and trucks. Boys this age are also very interested in collecting stuffed animals and often become quite attached to them.

Boys of this age are at the height of socio-dramatic play, and are inclined to model their play behaviours after what they observe in their everyday lives—for example, they will pretend to be a firefighter by bringing a bucket of water to put out a pretend fire. Their imaginations are in full bloom and through play, they're busily trying out a variety of roles they've seen in the real world. And because they're drawn to action, boys in this age group like toys with realistic detail and working parts. Toys like Rescue Heroes™ figures are an ideal fit for what boys like to do: pretend and play.

Rescue Heroes figures were tested with boys between the ages of 3 and 7 years. The tests, conducted in the Fisher-Price® on-site Play Laboratory, took the entire product development cycle into account—from early concept and design models to engineering models, early production and all stages in-between. Rescue Heroes toys were also researched with mothers who offered their opinions about the characters and features of the toys, as well as the rescue themes and role-modeling messages they promoted. In all, over 100 families having boys between the ages of 3 and 7 provided feedback regarding Rescue Heroes. Here are some of the parents' comments:
  • They encourage my son to use his imagination.
  • They are fun for my son to play with—he spends hours playing with them.
  • They are a perfect size.
  • They are action figures that are good role models, and are not violent.
  • They promote positive things such as helping others and being good citizens.

And here are some comments from the boys:
  • These guys are so cool.
  • They're fun to play with.
  • They have fun backpacks.
  • They have big muscles.

In addition to playing with Rescue Heroes-type toys, many 3- to 8-year-old boys also enjoy the following types of toys and activities:
  • Construction toys and blocks.
  • Trains, roadways, vehicles, garages.
  • Climbing toys, balls, trikes, scooters, skates.
  • Wagons, push toys (lawnmowers, shopping cart, etc.).
  • Musical instruments, especially guitars and drums.
  • Science and nature, animals, bugs, finding out how things work.
  • Crayons, markers, plain paper and colouring books.
  • Action figures and accompanying playsets.
  • Dress-up clothes--especially hats, vests, boots.
  • Toys with working parts.
  • Sports toys and games.