For a long time girls have had very little representation in the super hero genre. Heroes were for boys, with the occasional female character sprinkled throughout for good measure. The thought being that girls do not like super heroes, that it was a boy thing. This was not just the fault of toy or cartoon makers but as a society this thought process has dominated our culture. Boys liked boy things and girls liked sugar and spice and everything nice, see also Barbie, Care Bears, etc.
When my wife and I first started dating she had a 3 year old daughter (who is now my oldest daughter and almost 11) and after they moved in with me I wanted to share my passion for all things geek with her. To assimilate her and her mother like the Borg, it’s how I show my love. It was at this time that I truly began to understand the uphill battle when it came to girls and superheroes, as I would scour the internet and store shelves for anything that a girl could wear (even a mere 7 years ago) let along a collectible or toy that represented her. I still clearly remember when I found her an “I Love Spider-Man” shirt and her grandmother would loudly proclaim “That’s for boys!”, changing her out of such attire if she was babysitting. This led to a stigma where for awhile she wouldn’t wear anything super hero related and parroted that same sentiment “it’s for boys”.
A lot has changed over the past 7 years. Sofia’s mom and I got married, had two more daughters, and even legally named our youngest Kara Kent after Supergirl. By that point I had fully assimilated my family and my children lived, ate and breathed super heroes. During that time female characters have eked their way into the action on the big screen, the small screen and clothing became regularly available everywhere from Walmart to Target and not just niche retailers on convention floors. I never had any sons but I have be blessed with 3 amazing daughters, and dammit they were going to part of my geeky world.
Sadly the big hole in this genre for girls has been and continues to be toys, and action figures in particular. The Avengers would have a big release, but Black Widow toys were nowhere to be found. Star Wars get’s a female lead and we could find action figures available for every male character that ever existed in that universe (ok maybe not every one) but gave up on a Rey action figure when one still hasn’t appeared till this day. I can already hear, and have heard, the arguments about this. What people running their mouths fail to realize is girls want a playable character as well, that metal Rey character you can readily find at the Disney store does not count. Kids want something they can play with, not something that can only sit on a shelf and look at.
Enter DC Super Hero Girls, a line of toys and webisodes geared towards the exact audience I have living under my roof. A line of toys that understands this demographic is out there, that it’s large and that it needs to be taken seriously. I heard about them being in development off and on for the past 8 months or so. Having been bitten so many times in the toy department we all sat back with an “I’ll believe it when I see it,” type attitude. After having almost forgot about them, excitement began to heat up again last month when a release date was finally announced and we were officially allowed to be excited.
The DC Super Hero Girls line consists of Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Bumble Bee, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy and is exclusive to Target and much to their credit it has been treated with the respect that it deserves. The toys didn’t get banished to some side aisle or wedged in between the Star Wars and Ninja Turtle stuff and better yet they did not get stuck next to all of the other “girl toys”. They got their own endcap smack dab in the middle of the toy section, facing gaming, so prime real estate. I was happy to see Target taking this so seriously, because if this succeeds (and I am confident it will) it will only open the floodgates for future toy lines like this and make it easier for my girls to find toys they can identify with.
The moment Target released them, my wife and I began hording the 12″ action doll toys for our daughter Lorelei’s upcoming 6th birthday. We couldn’t buy her the Batgirl she wanted and hide it for a month, and then give the other two girls new toys. So we tucked all of them in the back of our closet and waited till we were able to give them to all of them at once. During that time I had been speaking with some of the representatives behind the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon, which was released today on Boomerang, and told them the shortened version of our story.
A few days later Mattel sent each of my girls over one of the dolls, so the cat was out of the bag and we would have to find some other toys for Lorelei’s birthday next month. Which was fine because I don’t know if I could have waited that long to give them to my kids. They divvied up the Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman that was sent over and could barely contain their excitement as I forced them to wait till I could drag my camera out and take pictures before they tore into the boxes. Much like a drug dealer, this first taste was free and I headed over to target to get the other 3 dolls. Poison Ivy, Bumblebee, then we had to order Harley Quinn online but received her within a couple of days.
Not only are they celebrating girls but they are also celebrating ethnic diversity. Not only are a couple of the dolls of different races by the shade of their skin, but small alterations in the facial features were made so that they more closely represent the ethnicity they are part of. It was nice to see dolls of color that were just spit out of the same mold as their caucasian cousins then colored darker. My children are mixed ethnically, their friends are a huge mix of ethnicities and it only makes sense that what they play with also represents the reality of their world.
Before I give my take on these dolls I feel it’s best to give the audiences opinion, and they love them. Over the past few days my girls have roll played , slept with them, watched the cartoon with them etc. Now for my take, and I probably like them even more than my daughters. For a doll that is $19.99 I didn’t expect the level of quality that I am seeing in them. For example Batgirl has a bat symbol backpack that is complete with straps and it is removable from the doll. Same for Bumble Bee who’s wings are also her backpack and can be take off. Harley Quinn has a large removable hammer and mask. The masks impressed me a ton, instead of painting them on, Mattel decided to make them separate accessories. Further separating them from other 12″ dolls are the multiple poseable joints. The arms alone have joints at the wrist, elbow and shoulders, while the legs are moveable at the hips and knees.
The 12″ DC Super Hero Girl action dolls were launched along with 6″ inch action figures and array of clothing and accessory kits for your kids to join in the action. We can’t wait to see this product line grow and show that gearing super hero toys towards girls is a smart thing that other manufactures should take notice in.