Toys are designed to be symbols of peace and love and should never be used as weapons to attack people, local toymakers have said in response to activists throwing a stuffed toy wolf at officials during a protest.
“We make toys to educate our kids to love people,” said Yeung Chi-kong, executive vice-president of the Toys Manufacturers’ Association. “We talk only about love but not hatred. It is definitely not the objective of toy manufacturers to make a toy for people to express their anger.”
The grinning wolf stuffed toy, Lufsig, selling at global furniture chain Ikea, has become an unlikely symbol of protest against the government of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who has long been characterised by opponents as a “wolf” for his perceived cunning and lack of integrity.
The translation of the toy’s name used in mainland stores is close to an obscene three-word phrase in Cantonese associated with female genitalia.
Hong Kong’s Ikea stores have not translated the name of the wolf, which the store’s website describes as “fond of play and mischief”.
“I think those who turned a toy into an attack weapon are setting a bad example to our future generation,” Yeung said.
Carin Wengelin of Ikea said the naming of products is based on a structure where, for example, textiles have female names, bathroom articles have names of Scandinavian lakes and the names of children’s products are from animals, birds, descriptive words and insects.
“In the naming process we strive to avoid foul language in any of the many languages spoken in the Ikea markets, [and] our intention is that the product names should not reflect politics or religion,” Wengelin said.
Speaking at a joint event held by the association and the Hong Kong Toys Council, Yeung said he was optimistic about business growth in the China market after the easing of the one-child policy in November.
“China’s toy market is growing enormously. After the easing of the one-child policy, we can expect even more rapid growth,” Leung said.
“Just counting the population of children in China below the age of 14, there are 25 million. It is about the overall population of the United States, so one can imagine the growth potential,” he said.
Toy entrepreneur David Chu Ki-kwan said the secret to gaining a foothold on the mainland was education. “We have to train our customers in China to value toys as an essential tool for children’s growth,” he said.