Dutch snap up Zwarte Piet toys as production halts
Toy company Fisher Price sold its last Zwarte Piet dolls in The Netherlands yesterday after various media reported that the company would stop production of the doll, which is part of a set including Piet, Sinterklaas and his horse Schimmel. Online as well as in stores, there was a rush to buy the dolls, which sold by the hundreds.
The announcement that Fisher Price would discontinue the doll, part of its Little People collection, came from Twitter, where the company tweeted a reply to mothers' organization Mad Mothers NL, which speaks up for non-native Dutch children. The Mothers called Piet a racist caricature, and pointed this out to several toy makers and toy shops. Fisher Price replied: "We understand why you are offended by this product and have taken it out of our line." In another tweet, the company says that it does not want to promote a negative stereotype.
Yesterday, the biggest toy shops ran out of the Piet doll very quickly after media announced that Fisher Price would stop production. Online shop Bol.com also sells the dolls through external sellers, and noticed increased interest in Piet-themed toys, from other companies as well. "This is strange, because normally the sale of these kinds of products only starts end October."
Bol.com says it will keep selling Piet-related products as long as they are available. "We do not want to play referee in this discussion", a spokesperson tells Metro Nieuws. Intertoys, one of the biggest toy shops in The Netherlands, also announces through a spokesperson that it does not want to enter the discussion. The shops follow in the footsteps of Dutch chain store HEMA, who has also announced that its products may be removed of Zwarte Piet.
According to the Algemeen Dagblad, the Netherlands toy association Stichting SpeelGoed Nederland will soon come together to discuss the future of a toy steam boat with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, negotiating whether the association should become involved in the Zwarte Piet debate or not.