Pandemic front-line workers depicted as action figures

Pandemic front-line workers depicted as action figures

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People in cities across the world are finding ways to show their gratefulness to healthcare workers on the front lines.

USA TODAY

Health care workers and other essential personnel on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic are considered heroes. Now Mattel is making it official with a new line of action figures and toys.

The Barbie and Hot Wheels toymaker has a new roster of #ThankYouHeroes Fisher-Price action figures and Little People figurines starring doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, grocery workers and delivery drivers. The toys, available for preorder now through May 31 at www.mattel.com/en-us/playroom-thankyouheroes, are expected to ship to consumers by year’s end.

The 16 action figures ($20 each) of doctors, nurses, EMTs and delivery drivers come in various genders and skin colors. In addition to the action figures, Fisher-Price is also offering a special five-character Little People set (also $20) of a doctor, nurse, EMT, grocery store worker and delivery driver.

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The net proceeds ($15) from each sale will go to #FirstRespondersFirst, an effort to support health care first responders started last month by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wellness group Thrive Global and the CAA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of talent firm the Creative Arts Agency.

Mattel’s Fisher-Price “is an iconic brand and the products speak to something deep inside of us,” Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington told USA TODAY. “It’s wonderful to see that connection bringing joy to the children but also giving all of us one more way to honor (the frontline responders). I don’t think we can have enough ways to honor them.”

The Huffington Post founder left the media company in 2016 to start Thrive Global, which joined with the Harvard school and the CAA Foundation to create #FirstRespondersFirst last month.

Mattel’s new toys will be given to children at the child care centers #FirstRespondersFirst is opening (seven have opened so far). The toys can help children cope with the pandemic’s effects by fostering “conversations about how they are feeling. This is a very hard and unsettling time for children.,” Huffington said.

These new Fisher-Price toys are part of what Mattel calls its new “Play It Forward” toy initiative to support communities in times of need. Mattel also has donated cloth masks to medical personnel and is now producing 500,000 face shields to donate.

Mattel is promoting the toys now to give consumers “who want to give back” an option and will send them directly to homes after they are produced, said Chuck Scothon, senior vice president of Fisher-Price and Mattel’s global head of infant and preschool. For now, these toys and action figures will be exclusive and are not planned to be available in stores, he says.

Fisher-Price and Mattel created the toy line to “honor and support those who are coming forth and fighting, from health care (workers) to the everyday heroes,” Scothon said. “What better way to do that than to actually create toys that really provide both consumers an ability to say ‘Thank you,’ immortalize those heroes on the front line, and raise money to give back and make an even bigger impact?”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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