Mattel’s First Action Figures for Girls Get the Superhero Treatment
Mattel might be best known for its line of fashionable Barbies equipped with dream homes, high heels, and pink convertibles, but the manufacturer’s latest line of dolls comes with a more adventurous set of accessories: capes, swords, and lassos, to name a few.
The toys aren’t just an obvious departure from Barbie, the iconic plastic doll that has suffered slumping sales amid criticism of her unrealistic body proportions, among other features. The Super Hero Girls come as DC prepares to debut its Supergirl TV show later this month and the long-awaited Wonder Woman movie in 2017, and at a time when many fans have been vocal about demanding more representations of female superheroes in movies and merchandise.
It’s not an entirely new complaint. When moviegoers observed a lack of merchandise depicting the heroine Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy last summer, they took to Twitter with the hashtag #wheresgamora to call attention to the issue. While many advocates see the Super Hero Girls as evidence that comic book publishers and merchandisers alike are starting to invest in female audiences—and especially young girls—the new line has not been without criticism.
“Rather than creating a separate superhero club for girls, why not stop shutting them out of the superhero club in the first place?” Jess Day, a spokesperson for the campaign "Let Toys Be Toys," which advocates against gender stereotyping, told The Guardian. She added, “What we’d like to see are toy ranges that include female characters alongside males, and marketing that’s inclusive to both boys and girls.”