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‘Star Wars Rebels’ Merchandise and the Hera Problem

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Star Wars has often been criticized for its lack of gender and ethnic diversity, but the galaxy far, far away took a leap forward in October with the premiere of Star Wars Rebels. Set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, as the fledgling rebellion begins to take form, the Disney XD animated series features a primary cast that includes three males, two females and a droid — none of whom are white.

A brief introduction to the characters is in order: Kanan Jarrus, the cowboy Jedi survivor; Hera Syndulla, the pilot and owner of the ship the ragtag group calls home; Zeb Orrelios, the muscle; Sabine Wren, the explosives expert; Ezra Bridger, the Padawan; and Chopper, the grumpy astromech. Bat while I applaud Lucasfilm for creating a diverse bunch, I’m disappointed when it comes to Rebels‘ merchandising. From the first day tie-in toys, clothing, etc. hit the shelves, before the series even premiered, the entire cast has not been represented evenly.

Hasbro first showcased Star Wars Rebels toys at New York Toy Fair 2014 with a lineup of 3.75-inch action figures that featured Kanan, Ezra, Zeb and Chopper, but no Hera or Sabine. It was disappointing and frustrating to see the two female characters excluded from the first wave, but on the upside, toymaker did preview Hera and Sabine figures in July at Comic-Con International; those two toys are just starting to hit shelves.

avengers blurayBut what about other areas of merchandise? Star Wars Rebels is more than halfway through its first season, and the usual push of product landed in time for Christmas. Thus, it was around the holidays when I noticed something peculiar: though Sabine is represented to some degree, Hera, the co-leader of the Rebels group, is being left out.

Sadly, this isn’t a new problem. The release of Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012 saw a similar dearth of Black Widow toys and wearables. Natasha Romanoff was a key part of the blockbuster, yet she was all but forgotten when it came to movie related products. She wasn’t featured in group shots on point-of-sale displays in toy aisles, and she doesn’t even appear on the front cover of the Blu-ray and DVD. (In fairness, Hawkeye isn’t there, either, so perhaps the cover only showcases heroes with solo films. However, it’s a disappointing omission, nonetheless.)

The But Not Black Widow Tumblr has several disheartening examples of the character being shoved to the side, but one post in particular grabbed my attention. An analysis of The Avengers showed Black Widow had 33 minutes of screen time, the third most of all the characters. Yet, in visits to five stores, the blogger found that the hero was represented by the least number of toys — a small sampling, yes, but the results are nonetheless disheartening. Iron Man, who had a little more than 35 minutes of screen time, had 413 toys on shelves. Black Widow was represented in just 24 toys, and all of those were bundled in packages with other characters.

More recently, Gamora was excluded from Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise. It wasn’t just that it was nearly impossible to find a licensed Gamora T-shirt (and still is), it was that the character was left out of group artwork on everything from school supplies to coffee mugs. I started a #wheresgamora hashtag and connected with dozens of people who expressed complaints to Disney and Marvel about the lack of Gamora merchandise. Twitter user Kristen Rapp asked children’s apparel chain The Children’s Place why Gamora wasn’t on the Guardians T-shirt in its stores, and a representative replied, “The Guardians of the Galaxy shirt in particular is a boy’s shirt, which is why it does not include the female character Gamora.” That was in August.

I visited a brick-and-mortar Disney Store a few days before Christmas and noticed no change in the Gamora department. In fact, I couldn’t find a single item with Gamora. I then turned my attention to Star Wars, particularly Star Wars Rebels, and was saddened but not surprised when I was unable to find any Hera or Sabine merchandise. The two Star Wars Rebels tees the store had in stock featured Ezra, Kanan, Zeb and the Inquisitor (the main villain).

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Star-Wars-Rebels-fabric-viaFast forward to a few days after Christmas. A kid I know received the Star Wars Command Epic Assault playset, which features ships and small figures of both heroes and villains. He opened the gift, freed the figures from packaging, and pointed out something strange as he set them up: Every member of the main Rebels cast was included — except Hera. So, we got Sabine but no Hera, despite her ship, Ghost, being part of the set. Why? Before anyone argues that perhaps Hera’s figure is absent because she’s busy flying her ship, please note the set also comes with TIE fighters and TIE fighter pilots.

By the time Bria, a contributor to the fan site Tosche Station, shared a photo of Star Wars Rebels fabric prominently featuring everyone but Hera (her silhouette is relegated to the background, while Ezra gets two different spots on the foreground), I was already realizing the character’s absence wasn’t an isolated problem. Bria documented her own sightings of Hera-less merchandise at Tosche Station, and my searches through online retailers such as the Disney Store, Target, Party City and Toys”R”Us confirmed her findings. The merchandise is skewed toward including only the male characters, and if a female is featured, it’s more likely to be only Sabine. There are products with the entire group but not as numerous as items with only the males, or the males and Sabine. I came across a single shirt showcasing Hera separate from the group, and it only exists through Disney’s custom made-to-order Personalized Shop. Hera’s absence even extends to Her Universe — a company founded specifically to make sci-fi franchise clothing for women — which has two Star Wars Rebels designs available; both are Sabine-centric. Once again, Hera is apparently being sidelined.

If you go to the trouble of developing an ensemble cast, why leave one of them out of the marketing? As Bria suggested in her post, the powers that be may think Sabine is more appealing because she’s a Mandalorian. Her helmet and armor give her visual ties to Boba Fett, recognizable and perhaps more appealing to the boys being targeted. Yes, like it or not, Disney views Star Wars as a boys’ brand. It’s popular with boys, and Disney uses high ratings and toy purchases among that demographic to back its marketing decisions. But by following that belief and focusing its efforts on boys, the company is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s long been believed that action figures depicting female characters don’t sell as well because boys don’t want them, but if they’re not on the market or only available in limited numbers, neither boys nor girls can find them to purchase.

Star-Wars-Rebels-t-shirts-a

The gendered toy divide is a rift that runs through the market, however, companies occasionally do step up. Disney’s Big Hero 6 action figure lineup from Bandai included the entire group — as in, I can walk into a store and purchase Hiro Hamada, Baymax, Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and GoGo Tomago. Tears sprang to my eyes last fall at EPCOT when I first saw a Big Hero 6 display with equal representation of the female characters. (Yes, it’s such a rare thing for the ladies to be included that I cried.) On the other hand, when Disney made 11-inch Princess-style dolls for Big Hero 6 characters, only Honey Lemon and GoGo Tomago were represented. Of course, the reverse holds true as well. Finding a boy’s tee that has Disney Princesses isn’t easy; sexism in toys and wearables affects both genders.

But back to Star Wars: It’s apparent the female fan base exists, and it is willing to spend money. One only needs to look at the success of Her Universe, or at the number of female fans attending Star Wars Celebration. The idea that Star Wars is a franchise for boys feels like a relic from 1977.

The Star Wars prequels included a female lead in Padmé Amidala, and when Star Wars: The Clone Wars came along a few years later, it introduced Ahsoka Tano. However, neither Padmé nor Ahsoka merchandise was available in the way Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi items were. I turned to Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection, a book that documents every Star Wars action figure produced through 2012, to count the number of Padmé and Ahsoka figures available; the numbers aren’t pretty. For the prequel trilogy, Anakin had 61 different figure styles available, Obi-Wan had 58, and Padmé had 26. Over four seasons of The Clone Wars, Anakin had 14 figures, Obi-Wan had 13, and Ahsoka had 7. The numbers break down similarly among Luke, Han and Leia for the original trilogy. The female characters get roughly half the representation of their male counterparts.

Lucasfilm and Disney have a chance to break from that history with Star Wars Rebels, but will they step up? Maybe 2015 will be the year licensors and licensees learn to include everyone.

Comments

  • ecovore

    Another similar (non-Disney) female notoriously missing from figures and merchandise was Katara from Avatar.

  • Philip

    I would imagine this is because the target audience for these items is young boys, who largely do not want female toys. I refused to play with the female Johnny West figure when I was 6, and I suspect things haven’t changed much. Reality doesn’t fit your progressive beliefs. Don’t blame the toy companies.

  • Kpaqu1

    There were always plenty of Princess Leia and Amidala figures on the toy racks… rotting away from not being purchased. There’s just not that great of demand for female “action figures” under the Star Wars banner.

  • Fury

    The sweeping generalisation that boys don’t want girl-shaped toys always annoys me, as a kid I wanted Lady Jaye from GI Joe and was annoyed I couldn’t find her in stores near me. I was also disappointed not to get Scarlett (which was because I missed her due to the wacky way Joe was sold in the UK). When I started collecting Joes as an adult in 2009, Jaye was THE first figure I got and Scarlett was one I picked up in the next couple of months, after several other guys I admit, but Baroness was my 3rd Joe after Destro. I also remember being peed off that the F4 movie merch didn’t include a Sue figure, I wanted a set of the Four and all I could have was 3 and the damn villain. So I didn’t bother.

  • Dr. Theodore Stellicus

    Well, there are no many toys of Arthur from The Sword in the Stone or Taron from Black Cauldron, or even Aladdin itself, and we found a lot of Tinkerbell, Cinderella, Elsa, Anya, Ariel… on the toystores racks. And nobody is complaining.

  • Kpaqu1

    I’d also like to add that none of the characters in Star Wars are of any known race. They’re all aliens from a galaxy far far away.

  • domininaldo

    Here’s the thing, just because Her Universe merchandise (primarily for “older” folks) is successful, doesn’t mean Disney or toy manufacturers who primary demographic is different than that of Her Universe is going to follow their lead. Yes, plenty of females love Star Wars, and that is why they license out to companies like Her Universe in order to reach them. But when it comes to their own marketing and toys, the demographic is largely young boys. It’s not sexism in toys, so let’s stop calling it that. It is just appealing to the majority because that is what sells.

    You bring up the Clone Wars different figures for certain characters, and here is the truth in marketing. If it isn’t selling, they will stop producing. It has nothing to do with “this is for boys so only make the boys toys” and everything to do with “this is what is selling so make more of it”.

    You got beef, you want more product of these characters, then the demand shouldn’t be for Disney to make more toys, but for other companies to purchase the license to make them and target the demographic that Disney is not.

  • heratio hufnagel

    Sounds like you were a little shit when you were six. And I suspect things haven’t changed much.

  • QueerJock2

    I was just thinking about this when I saw some of the Age of Ultron products yesterday. They released a Hot Wheels set showing the entire team EXCEPT Black Widow, even including Hawkeye (who near as I can tell is way less popular).

  • Mikey Wood

    You say “progressive” as if it’s a BAD thing.

    What’s the alternative? REgressive? History moves FORWARD, not BACKWARD, chief.

  • lewis4510

    I wonder how they’ll market toys for the Capt Marvel film? It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

  • JozefAL

    You do really well presenting straw man arguments, “Dr.” “Sword in the Stone” merchandise ALSO tends to exclude Merlin and Archimedes and Madam Mim (who, in fairness, does crop up in other Disney comics but still doesn’t realy have any merchandise featuring her). Ditto for “The Black Cauldron.” Then again, that film wasn’t exactly as kid-friendly (it was the FIRST PG Disney film in the company’s 5 decade history) nor was the film very successful (Disney even “disowned” the film for over a decade). And Aladdin was overshadowed by Genie–another MALE character.

    As to the rest, Tinkerbell isn’t exactly alone from the “Peter Pan” series (Captain Hook and Pan can be found). Cinderella is one of the official Disney Princesses–as is Ariel (and both characters WERE the protagonists of their respective movies, with “The Little Mermaid” actually being the first Disney film that TARGETED little girls for an audience; it’s worth noting, though, that boys tended to prefer Ariel’s friends, mainly Sebastian the Crab who has plenty of merchandise available). And Elsa from “Frozen” isn’t exactly the only character with merchandise (Olaf the Snowman gets plenty of promotion–I’ve seen a DVD display case at Wal-Mart which features Olaf VERY prominently over any of the “human” characters; in fact, the FIRST teaser/trailer I saw for “Frozen” featured Olaf rather than Elsa). As for “Anya,” are you referring to ANNA or the character from the movie “Anastasia?”

  • Kpaqu1

    History does not move forward, time does. Additionally, the alternative to progressive in OP’s context would be conservative.

  • Kpaqu1

    You seem like a ray of sunshine yourself buttercup.

  • JozefAL

    Missing the point. Disney SHOULD be targeting ALL the demographics, not just a part.

    As to the sexism, yes. Yes, it IS sexism. Boys, IF given a chance–without any sort of outside pressure–will pick a “girl” character IF that character is shown doing “boys stuff” (ie, action). Do you really think that a little boy isn’t going to play with a Leia figure when she’s dressed in the “action” gear she wore in the opening scenes of both “Empire” and “Jedi?” The problem is that SEXISM tends to press on boys, even at a young age. I’ve seen parents (and grandparents) pull boys away from certain books or movies because they were “girl” things (and pull girls away from certain books or movies because they were “boy” things, although this is a little less “problematic” because tomboyishness is okay for girls). And there’s the “peer pressure” thing which is actually a subtle form of bullying.

  • Mikey Wood

    So, regressive.

  • MegaGearMax

    The companies should be promoting the female members of a group as core and valued members of the team — if you are missing the female members, then your team is not complete. Back in my day, not getting Teela or Evil-Lyn was unthinkable to me. So was Scarlett, Lady Jaye and Baroness. April from TMNT…

  • domininaldo

    Explain why Disney SHOULD do anything? The only thing Disney SHOULD be doing is looking at their bottom line. The bottom line states that the cost for certain things is more than the return, so therefore they don’t do it at all. Again, that is why they license out to other companies so those other companies can reach other demographics.

    And again, it is not Disney that is promoting sexism. If you want to call it sexism, then you explained where the blame is, the parents and grand parents and society etc. etc. Disney can go ahead and make all these toys and make equal amounts, but guess what, society will dictate which ones they buy for their children and which ones their children play with. Children will decide that as well.

  • Liam

    If they aren’t a princess then Disney probably doesn’t care about them.

  • Stormcatcher22

    This has bothered me too, I remember looking for a Black Widow and couldn’t find her unless she was a statuette

  • Ramone

    As someone said on the FB article, by not including female characters you’re telling boys not to care about them in the first place. Also, females make up 50% of the population and Star Wars has a large female following–you can thank Asokha for that esp. in recent years. What on Earth would make anyone think there’s no money to be made from families with daughters?
    It’s a wasted opportunity that’s grounded in outdated B.S. rather than any real marketing data.

  • Ramone

    Or “regressive” as in going backwards.

  • Ramone

    The only Leia figures I’ve seen “rotting” on toy shelves are the ones of her in a bikini.

  • http://barryvevans.wordpress.com Barry V. Evans

    Spot on. The problem with progressivism is it’s based on a false premise that everything in society gets better as time marches on. It’s demonstrably false (the worst wars and the most violence have happened in modern times, for example), but it endures. I do disagree with the notion that boys will not play with girl toys, but it is clear that they purchase fewer of them. While it’s a shame that Hasbro hasn’t made a Hera figure (YET; seriously, does anybody doubt they’ll get to her?), it’s a business decision to both focus on the male characters and the actual fighters (Hera tends to stay on the ship). There is certainly a fair argument to be made that women are underrepresented in male toy lines (they are), but it’s mostly the collectors that buy the females, and as a long-time collector of many toy lines myself, I can tell you, collectors’ share of the market is much lower than that of little boys, and Hasbro is of course a company designed to make money.

  • http://barryvevans.wordpress.com Barry V. Evans

    That’s because they’re usually the only ones they make, or at least the only ones they make in significant numbers. There’s still not a normal 6″ Leia.

  • Convoy

    I do think that it is criminal that female characters aren’t marketed as much as the male ones, but maybe it does simply come down to money. There’s no doubt that there are female fans. Are these female fans buying the merchandise though? Are parents buying it for their little girls? Do their little girls enjoy Star Wars, but don’t care to play with the action figures. Look at Young Justice. The justification for the cancellation of that very good series was that it was not selling merchandise. I know you girls just want equal representation, but maybe no one is buying the merchandise with female characters the way that Disney would want.

  • Mark

    Reminds me of the Buzz Lightyear Cartoon show, I just could not find any Mira Nova action figures at all. Have no idea why.

  • bairdduvessa

    considering hasbro finally gave us a g1 Arcee figure after 28 years…

  • http://barryvevans.wordpress.com Barry V. Evans

    Sorry. That “Guest” is me. It should also be noted that they’ve never made a “Slave Leia” in one of the lines specifically targeted at kids, only in the ones that were either collector-driven or kids-and-collectors-targeted. But in the collector lines, it’s the version of her that sells the best (and hence, it has become the first one they tend to produce). Sad but true.

  • shannonpotratz

    I find it interesting to note that the video game “Disney Infinity” represents both genders pretty well. You can get figures of Black Widow, Gamora, Elsa, Anna, Maleficent, Jesse (from Toy Story), Rapunzel, Elastigirl, Violet (from Incredibles), Holly (from Cars 2), Jasmine (interestingly, no Genie), Tinker Bell, Merida, and Vanellope.

    However, it is a mystery why so many of these characters are vacant from other toy lines. I will say this though, throughout my past experiences toy hunting, I’ve found that many of the female action figures are frequently the peg warmers, often only appealing to the hardcore collectors and completists.

    Keep in mind, a great deal of market research goes into merchandising. These companies make decisions simply based on sales and where they predict their audience will spend its money. These decisions are not made lightly nor without a great deal of internal debate. It’s not cheap to produce these products so money is only spent on production of merchandise they feel has the most sales potential. There is no discriminatory agenda other than the bottom line.

  • Stormcatcher22

    Only toy line I’ve never really had a problem with finding female action figures, was justice league.

  • LizbethAnne

    They may not be “specifically targeted at kids”, but when I was in the Disney store over the summer, it was the only kind of Leia toy available. (Not disagreeing with your overall point, just mentioning that it’s not like these toys are only sold to adults, or at comic stores/shows/etc.)

  • Ushio

    If you want to play Disney Infinity marvel super heroes you get Black Widow and Ironman with the game just like you get Gamora and Star lord with the GotG playset ao none of those 4 characters are available separately because you can’t play the game without those sets anyway.

  • ben

    the same thing with the ninja turtle cartoon. You can not purchase Karai. Only in a lego set

  • Mr November

    that true, but progress in social/moral context is normally is closely linked to the collective held beliefs. As it stands while its probably fair to say the majority of society does not favour discrimination. However, the collective does not view every action as in the same way.
    Thus its more accurate to say the majority of people while are against sexism do not perceive this as pressing matter in the battle to promote equality.
    Some people would argue the exploitation of women as sex slaves is more pressing matter for society to end rather the appearance a few fictional character on boys toys.
    Yet equally someone may see this as more of pressing matter then ending the exploitation of women in sex industry.
    Generally society broadly agree the on principles, but frequently disagree on the application in specific contexts.

    thus therefore maybe he’s right, maybe society didn’t care when he was 6 in this specific context and maybe they still don’t care about it in 2015. Or maybe he is “regressive” his comment doesn’t really tell us enough to assume either way.

  • Pixie Solanas

    Lady Jaye? Give me Baroness or don’t give me anything, ma!

  • Don

    Serious question: Why do people constantly cry sexism over what is clearly a business decision? There is almost 40 years of market research on Star Wars merchandise. Companies know what does and does not sell. These companies are in business to turn a profit. If a product doesn’t sell, companies stop making them. It’s not a difficult concept. Is it a shame that a segment of fandom isn’t getting what they want? Sure. But you really can’t fault a company for doing what is best for their bottom line.

  • Erin

    I would like to note that the LEGO set for the Ghost starship includes a Hera figure.

  • just a random guy

    The target audience of the show is mostly young boys, and boys mostly want to play with boy toys such as action figures of males, not females, simple? Yes? And also the main characters are male so I Geuss they take priority over toy production of supporting female characters, because the demand is much higher. Now I’m geussing if the show develops a large enough female fanbase we will see more merchandise for them. It’s all business, no problem or sexism here, just capitalism and business as usual.

  • heratio hufnagel

    Ain’t I a stinkah?

  • todd

    Because it is great click bait and being a professional victim is in thing to do it seems. These people don’t care about business, all they care about is their own personal agenda.

  • todd

    Parents are probably only going to be buying 1 or 2 toys at a time. A young boy is going to want to get his favorite characters first as he probably doesn’t know when he will get another toy and most likely his favorite characters are the male ones. So naturally female characters would be bought last or at least after an initial purchase or 2. The manufactures probably realized why bother with the cost of making the female figures that would probably be purchased last, later on, or never when they could just make the male characters. So going back to Star Wars Rebels why waste money on making Sebine and Hera which might not be bought quickly when they could only make the 4 male characters and thus making a person only needing to buy 4 figures to have a complete set instead of 6.

  • just a random guy

    full disclosure,i make this comment taking it they going off actual market research and not just assumptions. that’s the thing with cooperations, they are too afraid of trying anything different in fears of loosing money, which is understandable, why take that risk if what you have works? it’s not like girls are going to die or anything just because there is more male toys, and do kids really give a damn? now i’m sure Hera toys will come around in due time, obviously.

  • Just a random guy

    what you’re suggesting is that we completely do away with the notion of demographics for equality’s sake…hmm i would agree with you but sadly we don’t live in that kind of world. males and females are attracted different things, simple as that, whether that’s a social construct or not we’ll have that conversation another day. Disney doesn’t HAVE to do anything. what’s next? we’re going to start pressuring My Little Pony to make more male pony toys/and characters because the most vocal and possibly the largest part of their fanbase (bronies) are males. if these males can watch a show predominantly female dominated without cries of sexism at every turn, surely we should expect females to do the same. This talk of not enough females in things target males is getting pretty tiresome..

  • Steve Finelli

    Boys want to play with the figures they associate with, the characters they like and want to be. Not many want to be a female character. When I was little and me and my friends played with our Star Wars figures, we’d argue over who was going to be who. No one wanted to be Leia. It was usually Luke that everyone wanted. Again, they make these toys to sell, not to combat perceived inequality or lack of representation in fantasy toy worlds. No company is going to make an entire line of toys so they can only sell a hand full of units. Everyone needs to get off their PC high horse and take a dose in reality.

  • http://blu-girl.tumblr.com/ blu girl

    *dying*

  • FatherBearNE

    I suspect Hera is a traitor, or will turn to Dark side. While they telegraph it, won’t admit this yet. Also, no one quipped “Not Her-a Universe.” Her Universe should continue to dominate and license products with females, from all of the Disney properties.

    You can’t have a group shot with a female character on a boys shirt? Siblings cannot team up? Ludicrous.

  • FatherBearNE

    Yes, daughters matter. Lego is coming around. 7 of 9, Mara Jade, Laura Croft, Katnis, etc etc all kick ass and smart.

  • FatherBearNE

    Allegedly, Marvel, Disney, Lucas, Pixar etc want to expand their base and make more money. Niche marketing, like fast for that offers salads, water, fruit. As a collector, and fan I cannot buy what they do not sell. If supply lacks, consumers ‘demand’ and discuss wishes in these forums. One reason I type this, and I’m not “crying”, is that I simply want to see a featured character in the team photo, toy line, etc, and so do my daughters. When I buy the one new alien in a wave or assortment, I’d grab the new female for my daughter or neice, too, or robot for brother who collects robots.

    P. S. I don’t need 19 Vaders, SpiderMen, nor Amidala or Luke in every outfit they ever wore – but some kids love it, and a toy co can inexpensively add a new head or repaint to resell armies of variant troopers too. Let kids pick their faves, but why not offer some outliers?

  • FatherBearNE

    More tricks include build-a-figure or ‘proof of purchase’ mail away offers, where to hedge peg warming, they’ll include the torso, head or isolated body part of larger or unique figure with each character in a wave/assortment. As a kid, I would buy lame characters b/c I was bored waiting for good ones.

  • FatherBearNE

    Star Trek and Marvel have had many females, too.

  • Charles S.

    We need parents to recognize that it is ok for boys to like female characters (and vice versa). Coupled with this, we need toy companies to make toys for both male and female characters.

    There has been a strong push on the former but the toy companies have not been responding quite as well as we would hope.

  • TheSegaMan

    While that is true, Avatar didn’t really get a lot of merchandise in general. I believe it got some action figures and a couple of LEGO sets for season/book one, but it was mainly Aang centered and they weren’t on the shelves for very long.

  • TheSegaMan

    As a guy who played with Barbie dolls and Disney Princesses as a kid (hated boys toys like Hot Wheels and G.I. Joe), it is really annoying when female characters like Hera get little merchandise recognition. Star Wars and Marvel have way more female fans than they ever have had before. However, at the end of the day, boys still buy this stuff more than girls (at least in terms of children), and its not a matter of Disney being sexist, or at the very most its them being unintentionally sexist.

    Disney makes what people buy, as evidenced from the overwhelming amount of Frozen stuff that has been released since the film’s huge success. Whether it be because boys wanna play with guy characters instead of girls (last I checked that was normal), or because the child’s parents/guardians push them to play with male characters and boy’s toys (which is both ridiculous and annoying), Star Wars toys are bought more by boys than girls and more guy characters are often bought than girls. Using this info, it only makes sense from a business standpoint that female characters are far less produced.

    Should there be more Hera and Black Widow toys? Of course. But at the end of the day, despite how disappointing it is, it comes down to what does and does not sell by a business viewpoint. It sucks big time. That being said, I fully expect them to release more merchandise of the female characters in the future, especially seeing they know there is somewhat of a demand for them on the collectors end of things.

  • semirose

    Star Wars toys are bought more by boys BECAUSE it’s marketed to boys. Girls are watching and buying DESPITE the fact that Disney is pretty clearly telling them they aren’t the target and they don’t matter (which also tells boys that the girls don’t matter). We don’t even know how the numbers would be if things were marketed equally across gender lines because companies can’t be bothered to find out.

  • alientraveller

    The sad thing is I recall Bob Iger or another exec commenting Disney bought Marvel (and Lucasfilm) to increase profits from the boys’ market. They clearly delineate between toys for different genders. And to be frank, I don’t think most girls play with male dolls. I was once helping babysit my godson and his buddy, a girl, who was upset by the Avengers toys I’d bought him! So it’s understandable Disney would feel girls would really play with Anna and Elsa than Black Widow and Gamora, and don’t supply as much figures. This is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, because when those movies are out there’ll be no excuses for lack of action figures.

  • Christopher Wyatt

    Misleading headline. I thought there was something wrong legally. Its just a production vs sales prediction issue. Something Disney of all people knows better than anyone else.

    The show is just hitting its strides. Star Wars is about to explode into a new market. Relax and stop with these agenda based articles. Geezus.

  • Paul

    Disney acquired both Marvel and Star Wars to take the market of little boys because they have the little girl market locked down.

  • Chris

    I wonder in how much marketing Daisy Ridley’s “Force Awakens” character will be in. It’s possible she might even be the lead of the new film…as for Hera, her species seems to have been the sort of ‘sex appeal’ background aliens in the movies from ROTJ onward (With the exception of the male Bib Fortuna and Orn Free Ta)…even the Jedi one (Aayla Secura although technically she’s John Ostrander’s creation rather than Lucas’s). Not sure if that’s relevant to the marketing or not though.

  • Chris

    …just one thing to add there have been a few figures of Aayla over the years too (As well as Oola ROTJ’s dancer but she usually is packaged with Jabba figures)

  • Clancy

    I’d like to point out that while there are an adequate amount of female Disney Originals characters in the game, there are only two female Marvel characters out of 23 (both of which are assassins… not much for variety). Those are pretty sad numbers.

  • Dan

    “Progressive” does not mean one believes times DO get better, but rather that they should. However, your premise that wars get worse in modern times is false. Things were much worse in the past. http://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143285836/war-and-violence-on-the-decline-in-modern-times

  • Travis

    How exactly can you claim that demand isn’t there when they won’t make the product in the first place?

  • Laurence J Sinclair

    The Fantastic Four figures didn’t have all four of them? That’s just ridiculous!

    Or maybe Sue was invisible the whole time? ;P

  • John Meredith

    Lego should be commended. It’s unfair to tarnish them with the complete Disney brush. The Lego set of The Ghost is fantastic with a very cool Hera minifig (as you would expect…it’s her ship!) but also the Guardians sets have been great in including both Gamorra and Nebula.

    But in general… Disney must try much harder. I wanted to get a Gomorra T for my 7 year old for Xmas and the only alternative was non-official merch.

  • MegaGearMax

    What I was trying to say was that unlike the male characters, Iron Man or even the boxset packed in with Widow is needed to sell her, basically FORCING boys to get her, because she can’t sell on her own. Gamora has the same problem. You can’t buy her alone. Star Lord is needed to sell Gamora, because she can’t sell by herself.

  • Aidan

    Dear author: you are a minority within a minority. Obviously you’re not going to get equal representation, why would you? It’s not profitable.

    When I went to Wal-mart looking for Starwars action figures there were at least 50 unsold princess Leas, ten or so Han-Solos, and no Lukes, Vaders, or Bobba Fetts. Why the hell would Disney churn out milloins of dollors worth of female merchandise if no one is going to buy it.

    Also, a show with five protagonists – none of whom are white – in a hobby dominated by white people stinks of forced hyper-sensitive political correctness. I bet that show will be canceled after its first season.

  • bigjeff5

    You’ve just figured out what femanists mean by “the Patriarchy”. it’s a self-reinforcing societal sexism that is pervasive and easy to ignore.

    Disney SHOULD target males with female characters because it’s the socially responsible thing to do. They SHOULDN’T do that because it’s not financially responsible (yet).Complete equity in that regard (literally 50/50 chance that any figure is male or female) would probably shatter the patriarchy within a generation or two all by itself. It would also probably bankrupt Disney, so that’s not going to happen and nobody should expect it to.

    It would be really nice if toy makers would push the issue, though. Commit to eating a small amount of losses every year to increase male targeted female characters, or something like that. The losses should shrink over time, as the toys gain acceptance, and once critical mass is reached it should be a huge boon, as they can easily target boys and girls with all figures. Then you work on slowly merging the boy/girl markets, and in 50 years you’ve practically ended sexism.

  • bigjeff5

    Focus groups.

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    Dear commenter: Rebels has already been renewed for a second season.

  • Jmacq1

    To be fair: Some companies WILL make a line of toys to sell a (relative) handful of units. But those companies are generally relegated to Kickstarter.

    But yes, I agree that the article does itself a disservice by ignoring that these companies aren’t acting out of sexism, they’re acting out of decades of marketing research and sales results that tells them female characters don’t sell as strongly in action figure brands and that little boys are still their primary market if they want to make money.

    They’re a for-profit business acting like a for-profit business. It’s not their job or responsibility to try to change society’s values (and the discussion of whether or not it SHOULD be is another animal altogether).

  • Ramone

    Agreed. Also, if they only ever make the scantily clad version in large numbers and it tanks in sales Hasbro can say “Sales data proves she’s not a popular enough character!”

  • Ramone

    Sword in the Stone and Black Cauldron are not top performers, and so Disney likely isn’t going to bother licensing them too much. Aladdin had a shitload of toys when it first came out, but that was 20+ years ago.

  • Ramone

    There ARE human characters of color though. Bail Organna and Lando Calrissian aren’t “aliens”, though they are not of Earth.

  • Ramone

    No dude, they don’t “outsource” licensing for women. They award licenses based on the probability that it will sell. The argument here is that women are 50% of the planet and Hasbro shouldn’t act like they barely exist when they sell toys.

  • Michael Smith

    After doing a Google search for a Hera action figure for my daughter I found this article. Then I spun up to see who wrote it. So glad to see it was Amy Ratcliffe.

    Amy – I’ve heard you speak on various podcasts. I enjoy your work. Thank you for addressing this topic.

    As a dad to two daughters (9 & 13) who are Star Wars fans it is really frustrating that it’s nearly impossible to find action figures of their favorite characters (Sabine, Hera and Ashoka).

  • kevinharoun

    I’m glad you point out that none of the main characters are “white” by the American definition. Ezra appears to be Latino, and Kannan struck me as Native American (and highlighted to me just how automatic it still is to try and needlessly classify people by race =/).

  • kevinharoun

    There’s a presumption they won’t. Reinforced by not providing them. If the young boys are shown the toys with a mixed group, they will play with them. This is adults being the problem, not the kids.

  • kevinharoun

    Parents won’t buy the non-gendered toys is different from the kids giving a damn. The kids will play with whatever they find cool, it’s adults pushing a role on preference on the with expectations that’s the issue.

  • Luke

    I can understand the argument about male action figures selling better, most likely true and no argue on that on individual toys. But one of the starting point of this article is the the SW Command set which includes all of the crew except Hera…this is just stupid. They simply cut them out from the completionists buyers and I really don’t see any downside for them in putting her in the set too.
    On another hand my 4yo always casts Asoka as Leia cause it’s the only fem action figure he has when he enacts the Han Solo’s rescue from Jabba.