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Coleco Annual Meeting Picketed : Peace Group Protests Rambo Toys

May 29, 1986|United Press International

FARMINGTON, Conn. — A peace group Wednesday picketed the stockholders meeting of Coleco Industries, claiming that the company's new Rambo toy line and cartoons are racist, sexist and promote violence among children.

About 10 members of the War Resisters League passed out leaflets outside the Marriott Hotel demanding that Coleco halt sales of the Rambo line and accessories such as toy machine guns.

The protesters carried signs that read "Rambo is not a good investment in our children's future" and "Say no to Coleco's Rambo and all war toys." They also urged passers-by to boycott violent toys and children's television programming, scoffing at Coleco's claim that the Rambo figure is a "patriotic role model."

"This line of doll presents very different stereotypes of who terrorists are and who freedom fighters are," said Joanne Sheehan of the War Resisters League. "We are encouraging parents not to buy these toys and watch these shows."

The Rambo toy line and cartoon shows, based on the violent film character portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in two hit movies, "make fighting exciting to children," Sheehan said.

The protesters claim that the depiction of "enemies," such as an Arab figure named Nomad, smacks of "racist rhetoric," while women are portrayed in sexist stereotypes.

The War Resisters League purchased two shares of Coleco stock so members could attend the annual meeting, Sheehan said. However, the shares were bought about a week after the deadline that would have allowed them inside the shareholders meeting, she said.

"The toy companies have a responsibility not to promote violence," said Sheehan, a staff member of the New England office of the War Resisters League, which is based in Norwich, Conn.

The group, which also staged a vigil last November at Coleco headquarters in West Hartford, Conn., is taking part in the national Stop War Toys Campaign that it says has gathered 14,000 petition signatures in the past six months.

The national effort is aimed at various toy companies and children's television programming containing violence, said Sheehan, who is a campaign coordinator.

Coleco has defended its Rambo line, saying the toys and cartoons depict Rambo as a "truly patriotic, all-American figure," who will specialize in helping the innocent and the underdog.

"They are entitled to do so," Coleco Vice President Barbara Wruck said of the protest. "The company does not consider their activities meaningful."

The company hopes that the Rambo figure, its companion warrior heroes and villains and accessories will match the phenomenal success of its Cabbage Patch Kids line.

Wruck said Coleco has just started shipping the Rambo figures. A five-part animated Rambo miniseries already has aired on television, and the first of 65 half-hour Rambo cartoons debut in the fall.

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