Vivian Lord, 6, won a set of plastic green Army men from an arcade over the summer. While she was playing with them, she asked her mom: Why aren't any of these girls?
Brittany Lord didn't have an answer, so she suggested Vivian contact people who would.
"She sat down and wrote a letter this July," Lord said. "We looked up a couple of places and sent it off and waited. I thought it was just a lesson on speaking up. I didn't know that we would get a response."
But much to the family's surprise, the girl from Little Rock, Ark., got a letter back from Jeff Imel, owner of BMC Toys. He said Vivian will be able to get green Army women by Christmas 2020.
According to Imel, five poses are in the works: a female captain with a handgun and binoculars, a soldier standing and firing a rifle, another kneeling while firing a bazooka, one firing a sniper rifle while lying on her stomach and a soldier kneeling while firing a rifle.
A medic and radio operator will be created at a later date, he added.
"All of these [first five pieces] are very classic plastic Army men poses," Imel said. "They kind of form the backbone of your plastic Army and how kids set up their positions, so I wanted to get the combat action poses and move on from there."
The addition is long overdue, Imel said.
"I feel like I'm creating a toy that should have existed a while ago," he said. "The number of messages I've received from adult women who told me, 'I really wanted these as a kid,' that kind of blew my mind. You kind of expect a kid to wonder today: Why aren't there any women in this bag of Army men? But to know that it goes back that far. That was a surprise to me."
Imel has done research on what women in the military looked like at different points in history. The biggest challenge, he said, is making it obvious that they are female.
"If you look at today's soldiers, the gear pretty much hides gender because they're wearing protective flak jackets," he said. "You can sometimes tell by size and the faces a little bit. But if the figure doesn't translate to a woman figure, then that's not really scratching the itch that people are looking for. It needs to be identifiable and has to connect to the audience I'm trying to connect with — which is both kids and also adults who wished they had this when they were kids."
Vivian's mother appreciates the effort.
"We certainly will be one of the first to purchase these Army women when they become available," Lord said. Vivian "has a lot of friends who are saying the same thing."