Alongside New York Comic Con, Mattel just unveiled DC SuperHero Girls. The 12-inch dolls and 6-inch action figures are designed by women, based on real-world female athletes instead of male-fantasy comic drawings.
With Wonder Woman front and center, Mattel hopes the new toy line can make up for declining Barbie sales and their soon-to-expire Disney licenses. I’m excited. I have a 2-year-old daughter whose main motivator in life is to equal her brother, a Batman-obsessed 4-year-old.
Mattel has a spotty record on dolls AND superheroes. Barbie has struggled to find progressive footing as long as I’ve been alive, and the new Batman Unlimited toys have the Caped Crusader fighting crime with an uninspired arsenal of robot animals. I don’t care what anyone says — the real Batman would never attack Solomon Grundy with an axe he just pulled from the back end of a tiny rhinoceros.
Still, I’m confident Mattel will knock DC Superhero Girls out of the park. It’s not just that they brought a bunch of real girls into the design process or even that they have incredibly deep well of female characters to draw from (their online cartoons already feature Katana, Catwoman, Star Sapphire and Jinx among others).
You see, Mattel has been making badass girl toys for years. You just didn’t notice because they were hidden in the preschool boys’ stuff.
Since before he was a big brother, my son’s favorite toys have been Imaginext DC Super Friends. They’re made by Fisher-Price, whose parent company is Mattel. Since we had a girl on the way, I made a point of expanding his Batman-centric collection with female minifigs like Harley Quinn and Catwoman.
Imaginext only releases one or two Super Lady Friends a year, so we snapped up Wonder Woman in 2013 and Poison Ivy in ’14. We’re hoping to find Wonder Woman’s nemesis Cheetah in stores this winter.
Even better, I got my daughter some of the Imaginext Mystery Figures as potty-training rewards. You have to search for a box of these in the toy aisles of Target or Walmart, and if you’re really dedicated you can squeeze the blind bags and get a pretty good guess which figure is inside. Hunt down a Series 4 or Series 5 case, and you can score some awesome ladies.
Series 4 has a female snowboarder with a removable parka and snowboard. There’s also a witch who can change her appearance. Series 5 has only one female figure, but she’s my daughter’s favorite. Check out the Warrior Queen:
She has golden armor, a big sword and a removable crown/cape.
These figures are great because they hold their own against the likes of Batman and Superman. They’re virtually unbreakable, and they work with a huge variety of playsets, vehicles, weapons and accessories, most of which you’ll find laying around my living room. To really appreciate these ladies, though, take a look at Marvel’s Sif from the Playskool Heroes Super Hero Squad line:
Wonder Woman thinks that little sword is hilarious. Sif, whom you might remember from the Thor movies, joins some half-dozen immovable Princess Leias and a pair of too-sexy Black Widows from Playskool (an imprint of Hasbro). None of those figures can grab anything or pilot an invisible jet. They don’t do much for motor skills. They’re decorations.
To be fair, Hasbro does make one articulated Black Widow, but Mattel still leads the way. Their new Imaginext Power Rangers line includes the Pink and Yellow Rangers as well as the villain Rita Repulsa. That’s a lot of ladies ready to throw down like it’s 1993.
So yes, let’s all get fired up for SuperHero Girls. Just don’t make your little girls wait until next year to start playing with action figures. Head to the Imaginext aisle and turn the Activation Disk on some girl-powered superhero adventures.
If you want an in-depth look at tons of female action figures, check out ShesFantastic.com.