Look How They Massacred My Boy

Americans’ tastes in cars keep getting bigger. This sucks — big cars are worse for the world, worse for your wallet, and worse for all the people they mow down. But now, the American obsession with size has come for our most beloved vehicle: The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.

Don’t worry — the Coupe, and its eight variants, are still around. But they’re joined by a sinister alter, a twisted parallel universe version with malicious intentions: The Cozy Truck. This un-cozy impostor is a pox, a menace, and I need to talk about it. I don’t care that it’s been around for 12 years.

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Photo: Cyndy DaSilva

See that darling child over there, enraptured by the controls on America’s best selling car? That’s a very young Steve, under two years old if the date in the shot is to be believed. He’s sitting in what appears to be a second-generation Cozy Coupe — arguably the peak of Little Tikes design — and clearly having a fantastic time. Sure, this is a scene from a bygone, car-loving era, but did we really need to change things so drastically? Weren’t those days better?

The Cozy Coupe is smoothed-over, round, approachable. The truck, by contrast, is all hard edges ad square corners — its headlight eyes and smiling face aren’t enough to distract from its inherent unapproachability. It’s a meaner, more aggressive vehicle, and it parallels the choices adult Americans now make when buying cars — a need to be bigger, angrier, to win collisions.

The Cozy Truck also mirrors another odd aspect of American consumerism: The incessant need to gender everything. Look at the Cozy Coupe above, with its red body and yellow roof. It’s not a “boys’ toy” or a “girls’ toy” — it’s just a toy. The Coupe does come in a pink Princess colorway, aimed at “any little girl,” but the only blue variant is the Ice Cream Cozy Truck. Despite the name, it uses the Cozy Coupe body, and its promo images show a girl behind the wheel.

The non-ice cream Cozy Truck, by contrast, is only available in Genders: The blue Cozy Truck, and the purple Princess Cozy Truck. There’s no default option here, nothing intended to be gender-neutral. Of course, young kids of all genders can get whatever colored toy they like, but the way these toys are marketed and targeted is clear: The Cozy Coupe’s broad appeal is no longer valid, the modern Cozy Truck’s gendered play is the future.

The Little Tikes Cozy Truck is a microcosm of everything wrong with the modern car market — size, aggression, gendered appeal. These things are all terrible in real cars, so why are we extending them to the idealized shapes of children’s toys? Why must we defile the Little Tikes Cozy name with this truck, when the Coupe has been so good for so long?