Monday, June 20, 2011

Who Does Mattel Think It Is?

Okay, I admit it, I'm steaming mad. My son, about whom I often write, is 5 years old. He adores superheroes. Simply adores. For his age group, I am quite certain we have one of the biggest superhero toy collections on the planet. One of our favorites used to be Fisher-Price's Imaginext. The Short One, who plays with these toys every single day, always regretted the fact that they didn't make any girl superhero toys. So, he decided to write to the company to ask them to make some - so he could buy them, of course. Unfortunately, he wrote the letter in pencil, so it's a little hard to read (read: impossible), but I'll transcribe it below:

or, in other words:

Dear Imaginext,
I really like your toys. Please make a wonder woman figure because a different company makes
a different kind that I don't like. And can you please make an Artimus (sic) figure Green
Arrow's helper. And can you please make a Miss Martian Toy.

The Short One (okay, he really wrote his name)
Age 5

This is the wonderful response that we just received, a week later:

Actually, here's the whole letter, if you have any interest in reading it.

Now, I am an intellectual property lawyer with a decade of experience, so I know exactly who wrote this letter - especially the paragraph I highlighted above - and why. What I would like to know is whose good judgment decided this rights letter would be a necessary thing to write to a child who is not yet in kindergarten (and, yes, the letter was addressed to him)? Intellectual property rights? Royalties? Licensing? He just wanted a new toy.

Dear Mattel:

We appreciate your timely response. Based on said response, it is clear that you need better legal counsel and more common sense.

The complimentary Mattel magnet with the slogan "Inspring Kids' Imaginations" enclosed in my son's original envelope that you returned to us was quite a surprise. You have certainly stimulated our creativity and imagination while we consider how best to use this gift.

Thank you so much for destroying my child's dreams. We can tell you must be the world's largest toy company simply by the level of sensitivity with which you handled this request.



Unknown said...

What an unnecessarily officious letter! They clearly knew they were writing to a child, surely they could come up with something better than that. Typical big business though, covering themselves in case they use your idea and you sue them...

Lorelei Eurto said...

ACK!! this letter from mattel makes me sad.

Melissa J. Lee said...

They really need a gentler letter for children. If the company feels it absolutely has to reserve its rights against 1) some possibility that the 5 year old will try to sue them 15 years later or 2) that the parents will try to sue it, then that sort of letter should be written to the parents, not the child. I was going to leave it sealed for the SO to read personally, but, fortunately, I'm nosy and read some of the language through the envelope. Needless to say, the SO's not seeing this thing any time soon.

Erin S said...

Insane. You know they must get a bunch of letters written by kids--you'd think they'd have some kind of nice form letter they could send back and still get the crappy legalese in there in small print.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Yes, exactly! It must be too expensive for them to have counsel draft a separate letter for young kids. I mean, given the size of the company and all.

TesoriTrovati said...

Oh goodness! That is just the dumbest thing I have ever seen! I think that they had an opportunity to encourage your young one's imagingation and creativity without squashing his dreams. Shame on them for being so supercilious to a 5 year old since it was obvious that is who they were addressing this letter. I think that his idea is one that has a lot of merit, and it pains me more that a 5 year old boy has to be the one to suggest it to them! My son (who is 13 now) played with Rescue Heroes (Fisher Price?) and I am almost certain there were women heroes in there. Kudos to you for raising a son who has the foresight to include boys and girls in his superhero fun and for having the awesome idea to write them a letter!
Enjoy the day, Melissa!

Melissa J. Lee said...

Yes, it's funny - I tried to tell him that there are no girl superheroes, because the toy companies think that only boys buy the toys and that boys won't be interested in girl action figures. He thinks that's just dumb.

Unknown said...

What a letter to write a child. I mean Come on. Ha this is a children toy company yet the letter is written in reply is definately not for a child. An insensitive answer in an ever qrowing insensitive world with companies over compensating to protect themselves against lawsuits! What did your little one say about the reply? Btw what a precious letter!

Melissa J. Lee said...

I haven't shown it to him. I may not. It's definitely educational, but I'm not sure he really needs this lesson in how the world works right now.

Andrew Thornton said...

Wow! What a letter! I say... forget Mattel! Have the Short One makes his own action figures the way he wants them.

Unknown said...

What on Earth?

sandi m said...

Leave it to big corporations who forget where they came from.... Unfortunately, we, the consumer, continue to support them.

Now, if you had the time and $$ backing, sounds like there is a potential market for girl super heros. I can see it, the SO as creative director!!

Sarah said...

Sheesh. Couldn't they have just said "Thanks, Kid - we'll see what we can do..." I guess that sort of response would be too 1945 for Mattel.