Topic: Toy Troll Buttons

It’s amazing how quickly times change.

When I was growing up, an unadvertised button between the legs of a child’s toy that makes multiple gleeful noises when you press it would get a company boycotted and banned overnight.

They’d be done.

These days, not so much. These days, opinions are split.

So let’s talk about it.

Here are two screen grabs from a mother who posted a video about the feature that raised concerns after her daughter received a doll at her birthday party.

The mother posts a clip showing how the button between the legs is not advertised or disclosed on any of the packaging. She then demonstrates the sounds the doll makes when the button is pushed.

You can watch her clip here:

Doug Stanglin, Breaking News Editor of USA Today, was quick to post the other side of the story, stating that Hasbro & Dreamworks intended the button to make happy sounds when the doll is sat down, and that not all dolls have a button between their legs.

Julie Duffy, Hasbro’s Senior VP for Global Communications, email response to USA TODAY’s inquiry reads:

“This feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate. This was not intentional, and we are happy to provide consumers with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value through our Consumer Care team. We are in the process of removing the item for purchase.”

(In his fact-check article, Stanglin also links directly to the concerned mom’s personal Facebook profile when naming her as the original complainant, but he does not link to the video itself … a tactic I have opinions about, but let’s stay focused for now.)

My question: Does Hasbro’s response satisfy you?

I’m genuinely asking because our country is quickly moving into a place where the companies we support will forge our future environment to the point of being omnipresent, and I only see one side of the political spectrum voting with their money and their business: the Progressive Left.

In the 20th century, it was the exact opposite.

When I was growing up, it was the Conservative Right that staunchly voted with their money, and I think it was my generation’s (Gen X) response to be a little more chill and relaxed about supporting different values.

Gen X is the middle-child of generations — those raised by conservative Boomers who then turned around and decided not to be so value-strict with their own children, inadvertently becoming a bridge between the diverging values on either side of themselves.

In the 20th century, the conservatives were the power players who didn’t support anything that didn’t match their values. The conservative market was so strong that Coca-Cola built special Coke factories to make caffeine-free Coke in my city. Movie houses couldn’t survive if they showed something that went against community standards and you couldn’t get a job in customer service or an office if you had an unnatural hair color or a visible tattoo.

I was raised conservative and even I thought the values were enforced on a cultural level to an extreme level.

Now we’re on the flip side.

The progressives I know put their money where their values are on the same level that my parents did when I was a kid, but the conservatives I know are typically more focused on good deals and convenience. The company with the best deals wins, so to speak.

Life is crazy, there’s only so many battles worlth fighting, and convenience wins.

To this end, companies like Dreamworks put out shows kids want to see with marketing parents can’t ignore and so they are too big to fail and don’t need to worry about the “Karens” complaining about their product. The “Karens” can simply be doxxed and social media will take care of them. (Okay, maybe I can’t totally let go of what Doug Stanglin did in his article by linking people DIRECTLY to her personal information and place of employment. Tactics like that will always be relevant to me. But, again, I’ll address this tangent some other day.)

It so strange how quickly the world changes… when I was young, I looked around and saw a world built by conservatives. Now, several decades later, I look around and see the progressive vision growing in its place.

A college professor I had once said that it is the nature of progress to move from extreme to extreme before we find balance. I was raised in extreme conservatism and it made me a moderate. Now, the world is shifting strongly into progressive values, and I’m still a moderate wondering if the pendulum is reaching a limit of a progressive arc, or if it’s really just starting to swing.

Ten years ago, I doubt I would have known anyone who would defend this doll. Now I know many parents of young children who would not only defend it but intentionally buy it to signal how fine they are with it.

What do you think? Ten years from now, will dolls that make noises when they sit be a thing no one thinks about? Or will the push back be strong enough that no company will think about doing it again?

What’s your prediction?

Strategic Partnerships

Sometimes, building your brand means pairing up.

When you’re in the business of doing a specific thing very well, partnering with symbiotic talent can result in a win-win situation.

Right now, a toy maker is in search of such an alliance with a seller who knows how to make money on handmade toys.


This toymaker is an elderly gentleman and a generational craftsman who makes all his toys out of reclaimed wood. One of the most captivating aspects of his builds is that all the moving parts work.

Wheels roll, levers lift, and doors open.

His toys aren’t static showpieces; they are meant to be played with.

A century ago, such toys might have been common. Today, they are a dying breed because no one makes them anymore.

Well, almost no one.


This craftsman can make the toys—including custom designs—and sell them to you at fixed, small-town prices. You can then mark them up as the market allows and sell them customers he can’t reach, due to age and other restrictions.

“What do the toys look like?” you ask.

Let’s take a look.

This is what you see when you walk into his remote shop.

Elderly craftsman standing in shop with hundreds of wooden toys he's made

You’ll notice that he has plenty to sell, but this is a good time to point out that he has enough inventory in storage to fill this shop 3X over.

Also, to get a sense of scale, take a moment to note of the semi trucks off to the right in the picture. Sizes of toys vary, but I would estimate that most of them average between 4″ to 7″ tall.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a closer look at a few of his designs.

Wooden toy: construction digger

His selection of construction toys are fun because, as mentioned before, everything that you want to play with does what it’s supposed to do. Levers lift, diggers dig, and wheels roll.

Toy wooden crane

Take this dump truck, for example:

Or this carriage that sits on elastics that make the coach sway as it moves.

Image of wooden, unfinished carriage
Note: This one is closer to 10″ tall.

And if you’re wondering if the carriage door opens…

same wooden carriage with door open.

… yes, it does. All you need is a size-appropriate horse and you are on your way!

He’s got planes.

Image of 3 different types of wood model planes (with propellers)

He’s got trains.

Image of wooden toy train on shelf

He’s got automobiles

Assortment of various painted, wooden vehicles
Assortment of unfinished Model-T cars on top shelf with smaller, painted semis on shelf below
Early 1900's car on display on shelf with painted cement mixer trucks.

He’s even got aircraft carriers.

4 jets and 1 helicopter on a carrier.

But my favorite might be his semi trucks.

Yes, he will make specific models as custom designs.

No joke, if I owned a semi company that gave out honors for drivers that hit benchmarks of excellence, I would buy him out, varnish them up, and put custom metallic placards on them.

Talk about an award everyone would actually want to get that might get passed down to future generations. It would be a killer way to build your brand.

Reminder: All wheels roll.

There’s more I could show, but you get the idea: There’s a toymaker who lives 90 minutes from anywhere who reclaims wood and fashions it into old-school toys you really don’t find very often anymore.

On top of that, if you have a design you want, he’ll make it for you. Like this toy rifle a customer wanted:

Complete with crosshairs in the site:

He’s a man with skills looking for a partner who can take him to market.

Are you that partner? If so, contact me.

Are you not his partner, but know someone who might be? If so, share this post.

A few answers to FAQs:


All toys:

  • are handmade
  • use reclaimed wood
  • 100% Made in the USA
  • have moving/functioning parts
  • are easily marked up from wholesale prices


  • Partner lives in a remote location
  • Partner has no internet communication
  • You will likely want to handpick inventory if you are a stickler when it comes to variations in quality

Want to know more and find out if there is a profitable work relationship in your future?

Follow and DM me (Sheralyn) on Instagram or Twitter, and let’s get a conversation started.