While researching this post it was depressing to read the kind of negative comments a lot of the figures - like, 'how can a figure in a wheelchair be an action figure? lol' - and dolls generated. Like this Daily Mail article about parental 'fury' at such dolls. I mean, okay, it's the Daily Mail, not exactly known for its intelligent, objective journalism. But still, why shouldn't dolls and other toys reflect the diversity of the people around us? (As for the comment that a plush doll aimed at pre-schoolers wasn't 'trendy' like Barbie, well, the words 'no', 'sh*t' and 'sherlock' spring to mind.) At the end of the day, if people really think dolls with disabilities are too 'terrifying' for classrooms, and Cerrie Burnell is too scary for CBeebies, it's probably their own prejudices they should be re-evaluating.
* All the pictures in this post came from Google Images. I claim no credit for them. *
Mattel introduced Becky in 1997, a friend of Barbie's who, it's implied in the tie-in book 'Three Cheers For Becky', uses a wheelchair following a cheerleading accident. This original version of Becky quickly became the source of controversy when it was revealed that her wheelchair wouldn't fit in the elevator of Barbie's Dream House. She continued to sell like hot cakes, all the same, and in 1998 a new version of Becky (School Photographer) was released. To celebrate the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, a paralympian version of Becky (Paralympic Champion) became the final version of the doll to hit shelves. There was however a McDonalds' Happy Meal version of Paralympic Becky released in 2000.
Not actually for sale, the figure above is part of an art project highlighting the realities of soldiers living with PTSD. They came up fairly frequently while googling however, so I've included them in the list. See the rest of the project HERE.
Captain Peg Leg
Mego released this 8" figure as part of their Fighting Furies in the mid 1970s - they also had a figure with a hook for a hand. (Read more HERE.) Another Mego pirate with a peg leg was Long John Silver. For some generic pirate with peg leg figures, try:
- 5.5" figure available from Pure Pirate.
- John Hill pirate figures.
- Lego pirate playsets, like THIS one. There are also Duplo pirates.
- Family Guy Peg Leg Seamus.
- Figure from Child Reach.
- Fisher Price had peglegged pirate figures in their Great Adventures Pirate Ship.
- Hasbro Pirates of Dark Water.
- Imperial Toys Pirates of the High Seas.
- Marx and similar sized vintage figures.
- Play Along 15" plush Cap'n Pegleg.
- Playmobil Captain Peg Leg and other pirates.
- Remco Peg Leg.
- Shockini skeleton pirates.
- Tech Deck Dudes skateboard figures, like THIS.
- Wooden pirate figures as seen HERE and HERE.
Colin from The Secret Garden has a spinal condition that sees him use a wheelchair for some years. Ashton Drake made the above porcelain doll in 1995. The 20" doll was designed by Jill Kovacik.
Finklestein is a resident of Halloween Town, the fictional world of The Nightmare Before Christmas. NECA have released figures of him as part of a three pack in 2002 (see HERE) and individually in 2005 (HERE), in addition to versions without the chair (e.g. HERE).
The Early Learning Centre makes a range of figures and accessories for young children, including this wheelchair in the Nursing Set. The Doctor's Surgery Set has a boy using crutches. Pictured is a little girl figure in wheelchair from the old Sunflower School Children Set.
Fisher-Price Little People
The iconic Fisher-Price school bus was first released in 1991, then was redesigned in 1994 to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs (as pictured). Most subsequent versions have also included a passenger in a wheelchair.
Franklin D Roosevelt
Friends With Diverse Abilities
A set of 6 figures with a range of impairments, from mobility issues to sight loss, from the Pretend & Play range by Kaplan. Read more HERE. These are, apparently, standard 1/12 scale. (They look very similar to these Special Needs Figures, but I'm not sure if the latter are by Kaplan.)
Barbossa is a character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. There are two 6" Jakks figures, see HERE (pictured) and HERE. There's a Lego version too. There are other figures of Barbossa from before he lost his leg in the 2011 'In Stranger Tides' film too, e.g. HERE. In the same franchise the Davy Jones character was also depicted with a peg leg (and a crab claw for a hand...), there are different versions of him HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. There is even a 1/6 scale Hot Toys version.
Sully is a character from Avatar, a former marine who lost the use of his legs during his time in active service. There are lots of figures of him as the blue alien thing (I haven't seen the film...), but the only one I've come across of him as a human is a 3.75" action figure. Read more at the Amazon product page HERE.
Jean Pierre Polnareff
Polnareff is a character from the Japanese Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure franchise. During the series he loses an eye and his lower legs, and then uses a wheelchair. Medicom released the pictured figure with wheelchair in 2012, see HERE.
Swanson, a character from the animated US sitcom Family Guy, is described as 'a macho paraplegic police officer'. Pictured is the 5.75" figure from 2005 by Mezco (see HERE), and there is also a Kidrobot 3" mini figure (HERE).
Kids Like Me
British based company Kids Like Me produces a range of 15" soft bodied dolls, along with other products encouraging inclusion. I couldn't find the pictured dolls on their website, so perhaps they have been discontinued? They also made a doll in a plush wheelchair, but again I can't see it on the website.
Lou and Andy
Lou and Andy are characters from the BBC sitcom Little Britain. The pair are available as a duo of 12" talking dolls, released in 2005. (More info HERE.) - The obligatory response here should be, of course, 'Yeah, I know'.
Mad Eye Moody
Moody is a character from the Harry Potter franchise, an auror who lost a leg, an eye and part of his nose to the war against the dark arts. Pictured is a 7" NECA figure from 2009, but you can also get a 2007 3.75" figure from PopCo, a NECA double pack of Moody and Draco Malfoy, and a Lego version.
Old Monty (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
McFarlane produced this 6" figure in 2004, see HERE.
This paralympian was one of a set of ten Happy Meal toys released in August 2012 to promote the London Olympics. For the full set, THIS is a post by the designer.
Oracle (Barbara Gordon)
DC character Barbara Gordon began her superheroine career as Batgirl. After the Joker shot her through the spinal chord Gordon reinvented herself as a computer expert and information broker, calling herself the Oracle. There are figures of her during her time as Batgirl, but I'll concentrate on the Oracle era: DC Direct released the above figure of Gordon as part of a 'Birds of Prey' three pack, read more HERE.
Wooden toy manufacturer Pintoy make a wide range of playsets, check out their website HERE. The wheelchair set is part of their hospital line, read more HERE.
The German based Playmobil company produce a huge range of 3" figures and accessories. Pictured is the patient / wheelchair set first produced in 2000 (see HERE). Over the years the rescue sets have contained lots of medical equipment which could prove useful, check out the catalogue HERE and click on the 'Rescue' category. Back to wheelchairs specifically, you can find old patient with chair, child patient with chair, and vintage dad with chair.
This German company produces a huge range of scaled figures for use with model train sets. Check out the official website at www.presier-figuren.de. They have the above figure, and a set of old people in wheelchairs, both in 1/87 (i.e. HO) scale. Other Preiser sets including figures with wheelchairs can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Professor X (Charles Xavier)
As the founder of the X-Men, figures of this Marvel superhero abound. In 2000 Toy Biz released two 5" versions of Prof X, one in a blue suit and one in a black suit. They followed it up later that year with a third figure in a grey suit with clear wheelchair. Toy Biz have also made a 4.25" figure in a futuristic looking chair in 1993 (HERE), a 2.75" figure from 1994 (HERE), the pictured 5" figure from 2005 (HERE), and a few figures with super armour, etc, instead of the chair. Hasbro released a Prof X figure in 2013, as part of their Fury Files line (see HERE), and Diamond Select have produced a range of Prof X Marvel Minimates figures - see HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
A popular genre of novelty toy over the last few years, you can get grannies with zimmers as pictured, grannies in wheelchairs, and granddads in mobility scooters. There are also fighting granddads with walking sticks and shopping trolleys.
Rescue Heroes was a line of Fisher Price Toys which went on to have its own movie and TV series. Aidan Assist is a paramedic who had an accident while horse riding, and now uses his souped up wheelchair to help rescue members of the public. The figure was released in 2001, as part of the Highway Heroes series (more info HERE).
Rocky's use of a wheelchair was a temporary thing, the result of his getting pummeled in the ring. This 7" Jakks Pacific figure was released in 2000 as a limited edition of 1800. Read more HERE.
Sew Able Dolls
Sew Able Dolls are a company which sells 18" dolls and accessories, specialising in dolls with prosthetic limbs. HERE is a guide to how their different types of prostheses work. The dolls come packaged with a set of crutches, but the company also offers a wide range of physical therapy aids HERE, from a wheelchair to parallel bars to a trampoline.
The 1970s Argentinian version of Sindy had a medic doll who came with a crutch and first aid set.
Stephen Hawking is a famous physicist, best known - at least academically - for his work on black holes. There is a Playmates Simpsons figure from 2002 (see HERE) and an ooak figure from the Heroes of Science action figure art project.
Timmy Burch (South Park)
Mezco produced the pictured Timmy figure in 2006 (see HERE). There is also a wacky wobbler bobblehead version produced by Funko. There are also plush versions of Timmy and his crutch using friend Jimmy, read more at Amazon.
Because sometimes our four legged friends need some help getting around too. Pictured is one of two wind up figures sold for the Handicapped Pets Foundation (you very rarely hear the word 'handicapped' in the UK - it's generally seen as offensive here - so it's really weird to keep seeing it emblazoned across all these US toys!), read more HERE.
Wheels was a wheelchair using member of the Burger King Kids Club, launched in 1989. Read more about the gang HERE. (I couldn't find a pic of the chair!)
Willie G (Homies)
The Homies are characters created by artist David Gonzales, also available in 2" mini figure format. HERE is the regular series 4 figure, and HERE is the bobbleheads series 2 figure. There was also a larger 7" figure released in 2003 (see HERE), as pictured.
Another option is to use a doll you already own, and simply buy suitably scaled mobility aids:
Launched in 1986, the 18" tall American Girl dolls are one of the best known doll brands in the US. There has yet to be an official disabled AG doll, though McKenna did once break her ankle and need a leg cast and crutches, but there are options to create your own. This wheelchair is from the current range and retails for $38 (£23). They also offer a 'Feel Better' set with a leg and arm cast, and a set of crutches, for $30 (£18). They have sold wheelchairs in the past too, as seen HERE and HERE.
American Girl Alternatives
Because AG is such a successful brand, there are a lot of other 18" dolls and accessories on the market.
- Pictured is the Journey Girls wheelchair and crutch set which you can find in light blue as shown, and dark purple. Read more at Toys R Us.
- Another option is a wheelchair and crutch set from Walmart the My Life line, retailing for under $15 (£9) - though caution is advised if buying blind, the earlier version is very cheap and tacky looking.
- Cracker Barrel Butterflies are a range of 15" soft dolls. The wheelchair is roughly AG scale.
- There is a My Girl wheelchair and crutch set which appears very similar to the Journey Girls set, except the seat and crutch grips are in pink. Check it out HERE.
- Newberry is another 18" line with a wheelchair set. It's called 'Heal and Care'.
- KMart have an 18" doll line called 'What a Doll'. The wheelchair set is called 'Heal and Care', and may well be the same as Newberry set, just repackaged.
Build A Bear
Founded in 1997, these days the Build-A-Bear workshop is a global phenomenon. On the UK site you can find a wheelchair (£20), two different sets of crutches and a hearing aid in the 'Health and Bear Care' section. The Medical Kit is out of stock, but that's what eBay was invented for. The bears are around 17" tall, so the sets should be a decent fit for similar sized dolls too.
Founded by a mother and daughter team in 1991, Delph Miniatures specialise in highly detailed modern 1/12 (i.e. doll house) scale miniatures. In the Dental and Medical section they have a wide range of mobility aids, from a motorised scooter to crutches to a zimmer frame. Other companies / artisans making standard 1/12 scale wheelchairs include:
- A Child At Heart.
- Bespaq make a Victorian style wheelchair, as seen at Magpies Miniatures.
- Teeny Tiny Things have made modern chairs, see HERE.
- Wickerville makes Victorian style chairs, as seen HERE.
G.I. Joe / Action Man
Action Man has been around since 1966, and his American cousin since 1964. Over that time he's managed to get himself into all manner of scrapes. The pictured G.I. Joe nurse is from 1967, and comes complete with a set of crutches for the man to use. The 1965 GI Joe Marine Medic had crutches and a stretcher. In 1998 Hasbro released a 'SOS Kit' for Action Man, complete with leg cast, crutches, and a pack of plasters for Action Man's owner. European clone Dynaman had a crutch set too - see HERE.
For 1/6 scratch built chairs, check out Fullmetal at One Sixth Warrior. Here's a tutorial for another by modernwizard over on Dreamwidth.
Lakeshore Learning sell the above set of adaptive equipment for their range of dolls - read more HERE.
The Duplo range has a wheelchair in the 2011 Big City Hospital playset (see HERE) and the Doctor's Clinic set (see HERE). The Lego range itself lacks an official wheelchair, but the cool thing about Lego is that you can just build one yourself - there are four different types of chair outlined HERE. There are even people sized wheelchairs made from Lego, as shown HERE.
Little Tikes is a US based company famous for their colourful plastic toys aimed at pre-schoolers. My favourite of all their products is their doll house line, complete with miniature versions of all their most popular toys, including the Cozy Coupe and the turtle sandpit - read more HERE and HERE. The 1994 wheelchair set came with figure, wheelchair, and access ramp, while the 1995 set was just a wheelchair and ramp.
My Twinn produce a range of 18" and 23" dolls and accessories. They used to sell a wheelchair (pictured) for their 23" dolls as part of their hospital line. For more details, click HERE.
Bluebird Toys launched the Polly Pocket line in 1989, although the original dolls were much smaller than their modern post-1998 Mattel counterparts. In 1995 the Children's Hospital playset included a wheelchair, read more about it at Only Polly Pocket.
AKA Calico Critters, Sylvanian Families are a range of flocked animal figures. From the current collection you can get the Country Nurse Set, with wheelchair and medical trolley, for £13.99 ($23.50). For reference, SF are roughly between 1/12 and 1/16 scale.
As notoriously dangerous as the sport is, it's hardly surprising that the thriving genre of c. 7" wrestling figures should have plenty of mobility aids available. Ringside Collectibles have five different wheelchairs (pictured in blue), in addition to two different types of crutch sets - check them out HERE. (If a stunt goes really wrong, they also produce caskets...) Wrestling Superstore offer a wheelchair in black (see HERE), and you can also get WWF branded wheelchairs in blue and gold.
Walking Sticks and Canes