Bruce Sterling on 4 Mar 2001 17:44:28 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] FW: Toy Uterus Lets Kids Give Birth

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Subject: Toy Uterus Lets Kids Give Birth
Date: Sun, Mar 4, 2001, 10:44 AM

May 19, 2081

Toy Uterus Lets Kids Give Birth

EL SEGUNDO, CA--Toy and game giant Mattel Inc. today announced the
worldwide availability of Baby.I.Birthed.It, a wearable pouch in which kids
can grow a range of Mattel-brand biomechanical dolls and pets.
"I.Birthed.It is a spin-off accessory to our popular Barbie.Gives.Birth,"
notes Mattel spokesperson Randy Doo.  "Now kids can share the experience
with Barbie.  The pouch gets big, just like Barbie.Gives.Birth's tummy,
and, after nine weeks, Barbie has a little baby to take care of, and so
does the child."

 Baby.I.Birthed.It consists of a colorful cotton-poly blend "pouch" or
"babypack," with hypoallergenic shoulder straps that hold it in place
against the child's abdomen.  A zippered, vinyl-coated sack inside the
pouch contains a soup of non-toxic resins and nano-assemblers responsible
for growing the Baby and simulating, through control of the density and
viscosity of the resin substrate, the changing effects of pregnancy on
gait, posture, and center of gravity.  I.Feel.My.Baby, a special patch,
sold separately and worn on the child's skin, delivers time-release,
child-safe "simulants" that emulate some of the symptoms popularly
associated pregnancy, including "morning sickness" and a "healthy glow" in
the cheeks and eyes.

 "I.Brithed.It is an educational toy, and we've taken great care to provide
a fun and accurate experience for the kids," explains Mattel R&D Director
Amy Ollie. "Sure, the babypack comes in bright rainbow colors, and is
stain-resistant and machine washable, but we've also done a lot of work to
make sure that things are as anatomically accurate as possible. I'm
particularly proud of what we've done with the navel."

 After the gestation period, during which the child is able to feel the
growing doll moving and kicking, the inner sack is unzipped to reveal a
writhing, cooing doll that imprints immediately upon the child's voice and
simulates most of the moods and functions of a three-month-old baby.  When
the child is done playing with the Baby, the inner sack can digest and
reuse the underlying resins with only moderate material loss.  Refill
packages (sold separately) permit the toy to be reused indefinitely.

 "In our initial release, I.Birthed.It only delivers the Mattel Baby,"
notes Ollie.  "But it's really a toy birth platform that eventually will
deliver products from across the Mattel line, and from our strategic
partners.  We're already in talks with Gund to offer a
Gund.Bear.I.Birthed.It refill that will grow one of their interactive
bears.  Our American Girl brand add-on will be released for the holiday
season, and we're currently market-testing a Hotwheels.I.Birthed.It for the
boys that grows a fully-functional Hotwheels car with a miniature,
biomechanical driver."

 Demand for Baby.I.Birthed.It is reportedly high, driven in part by
promotion of the toy in schools as a key part of the Mattel Interactive

 Critics of the company point to its history of promoting gender
stereotypes through its products.  BarbieWatch Director Gil Heamp:
"I.Birthed.It is just another in a long line of attempts by Mattel to
commodify and monetize the gender stereotypes that persist in American
culture.  What message are they sending by integrating a simulated
experience of childbirth into their curriculum?"

 Baby.I.Birthed.It is currently available for purchase through retail
outlets worldwide.


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