Are Toys Going Too Far?

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNS) - In efforts to market their movies have industry executives gone too far with their toys? Some parents think so and have complained to toy stores forcing at least one retailer to pull some versions of the new Austin Powers dolls.

Tamantha Brannon was surprised when her son Marvin, 11, picked up one of the new Austin Powers dolls and read the package and asked his mother what "horny" meant. Brannon was offended by the packaging and declined to purchase the doll but did complain to store management.

The action figure is based on the movie "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." The doll also includes such phrases as "Do I make you horny, baby? Do I?"

That sexual reference and other "shagadelic" sayings spoken by the new Powers dolls are what prompted Brannon to also file a criminal complaint against the Atlanta Toys-R-Us store. Brannon in a press conference demand an apology from the retailer for exposing her son to the "International Man of Mystery's" famous catch phrase.

"This is not acceptable," said Brannon, who held the press conference Tuesday in the store parking lot. "My son is not old enough to be talking about sex, and I think Toys "R" Us should be held responsible for putting something that's inappropriate for kids on their shelves."

Toys "R" Us spokesman Paula Whitty blamed the incident on a shipping mistake, telling the chain's 700 stores were supposed to get dolls with more morally acceptable lines from the movie such as "Oh! Behave," or "Groovy, baby."

More explicit versions of the dolls were intended for specialty stores such as Spencer Gifts, which cater to more adult shoppers.

"Somebody mixed a couple of boxes up and one of them landed in Georgia," said Todd McFarlane, owner of the Arizona-based company that produced the toys. "I won't make any excuses."

Whitty said store managers would check their stock and remove any dolls that contain the phrase.

However, Whitty said the store planned to continue to sell versions of the doll that refer to "shagging," British slang for having sex.

"I still don't think that's right," said Brannon. "I don't think any of those words should be in a child's toy store. If they don't correct this, my son won't be back there."

Clayton County Police Capt. Doug Jewett said the department is no longer reviewing the case. Keith Martin, county solicitor, said he's still investigating the complaint.

"The question here is whether this is obscene or offensive," said Martin. "I don't know who we would even prosecute here."

McFarlane, owner of McFarlane Toys and creator of the comic book character, "Spawn," accuses of Brannon of making a big deal out of nothing.

"These are the moments in life when you have to make a decision whether you're going to save the world from evil or sit down with your kids and tell them what you think is appropriate, and what isn't."