A couple of weeks ago, I did a little informal poll. I was a guest at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, where I had a table and a bunch of panels, including one about feminism. While I was there, I asked kids whether or not they’d buy toys of another gender. Of course, the girls said yes across the board. What didn’t surprise me, but may surprise you and a number of major toy companies, is that the boys said yes as well. Not a single one said they wouldn’t buy a set if there were female characters in there. Not. A. Single. One.
Now I recognize that this was me asking kids at a con and is hardly scientific, but ever since whole #WheresGamora thing (leaving Gamora off most of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” merchandise) and #WheresNatasha, where they replaced Black Widow in toy versions of her own scene, I’ve been asking around. So when I went into Target this weekend and saw a set of exclusive figures from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens without Rey or Captain Phasma, there was an audible groan from my direction.
In the set was Finn, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Poe Dameron, a First Order Stormtrooper and a First Order pilot. It’s the same sort of set that Target had for the “Avengers” where they replaced Black Widow with Ultron. Now look, I know there are Rey and Phasma toys out there. I’m thrilled with that fact. I’ve bought them all.
However, this set shows that they still think boys won’t buy anything with female characters. I posted a story about this on social media and was told I was complaining too much — that I was whining. And yet, when I go into Target, I still have to buy most of my geek gear in the men’s section. I still hear from women (and men) about how they can’t find toys and shirts for their geek daughters. I still hear that “Star Wars” is for boys.
Look, non-gendered toy aisles are wonderful, but it appears that it’s not changing the way toy companies think. Enough already.