In defense of little green army men…

An eight-year-old Rhode Island boy got in trouble at school for bringing in plastic toy soldiers to class -- because they were carrying guns, part of the school's "zero tolerance" weapons policy.

Before Star Wars figures hit the market, I used to deploy battalions of little green plastic army men in the backyard — many later becoming casualties to the lawnmower. I don’t think I knew any kids who didn’t play with toy soldiers.

I don’t recall recreating any moments from the Vietnam War, which had only ended when I entered elementary school. I don’t even remember imagining anyone killing anybody. My play scenarios were much closer to the kind of rescue missions acted out in the Toy Story movies.

So, it’s nice to see there are still some kids out there who play with toy soldiers outside of video games. Apparently, my sense of nostalgia isn’t universal. What kind of buffoons would feel threatened by an eight-year-old boy wearing toy soldiers on his hat?

Rhode Island’s David Morales brought the little green army men to school as a gesture to honor the troops. He didn’t construct any dioramas of My Lai or Abu Ghraib. He didn’t splatter any red paint on enemy soldiers. Just a plain “I’m proud of the American Army” display. The school told him toy soldiers were banned from school because they were holding weapons. Reportedly, David was told he could play with toy soldiers without weapons, presumably the one with the landmine detector or the guy assigned to the public affairs unit.

You know what happens when you have soldiers without guns?  They wind up getting beaten with crowbars and pipes.

This situation is INSANE. Will the Conventry, RI schools be banning Toy Story next?  Besides the little green army men, both Woody and Buzz Lightyear carry weapons. So does Jessie for that matter.

What about those historical toy sets you used to be able to buy at the back of the comic books?

Would the Coventry (R.I.) schools say that this Revolutionary War toy soldier set was being insensitive to the British?

Regardless of the military content, I am very much looking forward to seeing “Toy Story 3″ this weekend with my eight-year-old boy. Some of his LEGO figures have guns and he included them in a diorama he made for school to honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. So far, he hasn’t been hauled into the school psychologist’s office for an evaluation.

Speaking of little green army men, a while back I had the privilege of meeting some adults who still love to play with them. Check out this short film, “Toying With War: Tank Commander” that I made with conspirators Al Ward and Peter Koziell:

If you share my fascination with the sociology of war toys, check out these other hot topics:

PINK AISLE REFUGEES – Meet some guys who train and dress up Barbie commandos.

G.I. JOE MEDIC — Kentucky toy surgeon rescues action figures on their deathbeds. Gives them hairplugs, too!

HOSTAGE HOAX — Action figure collectors thwart terrorist scam in Iraq. Seriously.

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