NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A pirate ship toy is causing complaints and controversy.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, the box contains a miniature metal collar, and the instructions say it’s supposed to go around a black passenger’s neck.
Ida Lockett only noticed the figure after putting together the ship for her 5-year-old son.
“You cannot have this specific accessory and call it anything else,” she said. “The fact that you can Google it, look it up and say what it is. … It’s a slave collar.”
The dark-skinned character with the metal collar has no shoes and tattered pants.
Lockett said the item came from Toys R Us and cost around $90.
The maker of the pirate ship, PlayMobil, said in a statement: “The pirate figure is clearly a crew member on the pirate ship and not a captive. The figure was meant to represent a pirate who was a former slave in a historical context. It was not our intention to offend anyone in any way.”
Richard Gottlieb, chief executive officer of Global Toy Experts, said, “I know that they would be crazy to have ever done anything like this intentionally.”
Gottlieb said the German company was attempting to show multiculturalism by having a black pirate, but missed the mark by including the collar accessory.
“I don’t think the Europeans have the sensitivity to race that we do because they don’t have our history,” Gottlieb said.
CBS2 found the pirate ship for sale at an Upper West Side toy shop, but the owner did not want to talk on the record for this story, saying only she’s received no complaints from customers, including a father of two who told CBS2 he thinks the toy is fine.
“Considering I’m half-black and Puerto Rican … yeah, I would she might be a little sensitive on what a slave might look like,” the man said.
As for Lockett, she said she’s going to ask the Toys R Us manager “not to support this particular product.”
Toy experts say it’s unlikely the company will pull the toy. It’s more likely they’ll make changes to subsequent versions or revise the directions.