A conservative e-tailer named Keep and Bear is making headlines this week for launching a MAGA Build the Wall toy for children ages 5 and up. The toy looks a lot like Legos, but the company’s CEO insists the toy is geared toward adults as a “novelty item.”
“We are pleased to announce the launch of a brand new line of toys: MAGA building blocks! This set comes with more than 100 pieces including President Trump in a MAGA hard hat!” reads the toy’s description on the Keep and Bear website. It was first made available on the site in late October.
In the toy’s description, the brand sets the scene. “A mob of 10,000 Central American migrants is marching through Mexico and heading toward El Paso, Texas. Mexican border agents attempted to stop them at the Mexican border, but to no avail.” It continues, “We understand why they want to flee Honduras and live and work in America. After all, we are the greatest nation on earth.
“In the interest of national security, however, we cannot allow just anyone and everyone to cross our borders. While there are good people attempting to enter our nation, there are also gangs, criminals, and terrorists. … The wall must be built. The wall will keep America safe and strong. Only then will we be able to help those in need.”
The brand touts the $30 toy as “a great Christmas gift for your kids and grandkids!”
Following the launch, the company took a bit of heat on Twitter for not only promoting Trump’s immigration ban but also pushing this ideology on children — an outlook many view as racist.
Forget the Trump bear, WTF about Trump build a wall toy for 5yr olds!! Marketed by Keep and Bear, being sold for $29.95. The website has offered other Lego knockoffs, including the "Trump sends Hillary to prison! These people are sick!! pic.twitter.com/1bAbCYdFTb
— PrettyASeyes (@4prettyAseyes) November 14, 2018
There is a web site Keep and Bear. They have pro trump merchandise. The most vile is Build the Wall building set. This is in no way connected with LEGO. I spoke to LEGO. They were awesome. I emailed keep and bear told them SHAME on them
— Cecilia lewis (@Cecilia42371898) November 14, 2018
Keep and Bear (I guess its a toy company) has a toy out called BUILD THE WALL. Read the description for this toy. The thought of adults buying this for the kids in their lives. Poor kids.
— Christine Ericksson (@sfsportsfan01) November 13, 2018
Despite the outcry online, Keep and Bear CEO Brandon Vallorani insists the feedback he’s received has been mostly supportive. “So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Most people understand it’s just a novelty item.” He says the toy is “not at all” meant to be taken seriously. “Toys aren’t meant to be serious. Life is already stressful enough for people of all ages. This gift was meant to bring some lighthearted comic relief to the intense political debate,” he clarifies. “These toys are really just cool collectibles.”
While the product description says it’s great for children, Vallorani says, “We believe that the vast majority of our customers will want it as a collectible.”
He says he’s not against children playing with toys that promote a political message. “The majority of our customers are over the age of 40, not children. But even so, politics are already being pushed on our kids every day in public school classrooms and through much of mainstream media,” he argues. “I believe all American citizens have the right to teach their children to examine political conversation and make their own decisions.”
For those offended by this toy, he wants to clear the air. “Some people who disagree with our political stance are claiming that we are against immigrants/immigration.” But Vallorani insists, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“My grandparents legally immigrated to America from Italy and pursued the American dream,” Vallorani shares. “I want everyone to have that opportunity as well, but not by violating our immigration policies. We believe America is made stronger when people from different backgrounds come together as legal citizens to build our great nation.”
Keep and Bear, whose name references the “right to keep and bear arms” outlined in the Second Amendment, launched in 2006 to promote a film about the right to own guns. Since then, the site claims it has “grown to become one of the largest purveyors of conservative resources online.”
It sells everything from Trump-themed gifts and Trump-themed art to Trump-themed coffee. It also sells Bibles, patriotic art and MAGA toys.
“Long before Donald Trump was elected president, I admired him as a savvy businessman,” says Vallorani. “One of the things I love most about President Trump is that he is not obeisant to politically correct rhetoric. I think he may have forever changed the way politicians speak to the American people; we are informed and passionate about our values.”
Keep and Bear’s Trump Man figurine has been its best-selling novelty item, according to Vallorani. It features his angry face and comes with a MAGA hat and an executive order. Its #45 Blend coffee sold by its sister company, Thrasher Coffee, “has been selling extremely well,” he says.
The company is getting ready to launch another new item, “an exciting new MAGA toy that will be making its debut on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, in support of the Trump 2020 campaign,” Vallorani reveals.
One subject he doesn’t plan on touching when it comes to toys is guns. “Despite the fact that it’s our name, our focus is not limited to the Second Amendment but all conservative values that keep our country great,” he says. “Gun safety is best taught as an educational course,” he urges. “Guns and gun safety and our constitutional rights are all serious issues, and as citizens of the United States we should all teach our children to respect them.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- ‘Minions’ writer trolls Eric Trump with amusing tweet about his favorite toy
- Donald Trump Jr. models his tiny belt buckle gun, but is it legal?
- Kate Middleton let Prince George play with a toy gun and critics are horrified