For almost a year, we've been waiting for the DC Super Hero Girls to arrive on the scene. Announced last April as a multimedia brand aimed squarely at young women and designed to cover toys, comics, apparel, animation and more, DC Super Hero Girls' reveal was a big deal. Here were DC Comics and Warner Bros., along with partners Mattel, Random House and Lego, not just acknowledging that young girls were into comics, but that they were also important enough as a group to deserve an entire line of collectibles and apparel. Yes, there have been numerous action figures to buy featuring the heroes and villains of the DC Universe, but DC Super Hero Girls marks the first time any company had the brains to realize something we did long ago: "Teaching girls that they can be super heroes too [...] is really, really important."
Starting in the fall of last year, the DC Super Hero Girls web series got things running. The short stories introduced the world of Super Hero High School, and how all the characters of DC Comics would be interpreted in this new universe. There was a longer wait for the figures and Action Dolls based on these new designs, but earlier this week, Target and Mattel finally delivered the goods. The DC Super Hero Girls line hit store shelves, with figures, dolls, and roleplay accessories that would not only give young girls a chance to play with their favorite heroes, but to be their favorite heroes as well.
After ditching the DC Universe Classics line and moving to 3.75" figures with the initial launch of DC Multiverse, it was a bit of a surprise to see Mattel would once again enter the 6" arena with the Multiverse collection. It made sense of course, given that DC Comics and Warner Bros. were releasing a new tentpole movie featuring all three of the comic company's iconic heroes, and (hopefully) kickstarting a cinematic universe. But the Multiverse line is much more than just Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and as recent releases like Arrow's Green Arrow and The Flash's Flash have shown, Mattel has larger goals in mind for the figure line.
That DC TV love will continue into the next wave, which will introduce CBS' Supergirl into the mix. It's good to see that a third party licensor sees the value of Supergirl toys, even as DC itself has struggled to find a way to make Kara Zor-el relevant in print and within its own collectibles. Green Arrow and Flash had to wait a season or two until they got their shot a figures, but Supergirl's jumping right out of the gate with her first attempt. That said, based on how infrequently the Multiverse line has shipped so far, it's unlikely we'll see this Supergirl figure until the fall. We've still got the second half of the Dawn of Justice wave and the TV/comics mix to come, plus those Suicide Squad figures.
Every step along the way, Mattel's new DC Super Hero Girls have looked better and better. Since announcing DC Super Hero Girls, Mattel has slowly been teasing the figures and dolls, along with the numerous other branded accessories like notebooks, skate helmets, socks and books. There are already a dozen animated shorts online, which I guess are supposed to be the impetus to get you to buy the dolls. Considering most of these characters are already fairly big names, it seems like the inverse might be more true. But what do I know?
Not much, except for one thing. This line is going to be trouble.
With a new Ghostbusters film on the horizon, the fearless foursome will once again return to the mass market courtesy of Mattel. Though Mattel previously tried to resurrect the Ghostbusters franchise as action figures back in 2009, the line was fraught with issues. Other companies, like Diamond Select, have stepped up in recent years to fill the void for figures based on the 1984 classic, but outside of specialty shops, Ghostbusters toys have been few and far between since the Real Ghostbusters line ended all those years ago.
Depending on how invested you were in the Matty Collector Ghostbusters line, even bringing it up might recall a particularly sour taste for fans who were burned the last time this license was making the rounds. After seeing the new figures in person for the first time this weekend at Toy Fair, I hope this wave can find the audience and success the previous batch just couldn't maintain. Given all the excitement for the female-led film, that doesn't seem like it should be a problem. Even if the figures aren't all that great.
Though you would have thought a great deal of Mattel's Toy Fair event would have been focused on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which to be fair it was, there were actually more new figures on hand from August's Suicide Squad film. Many of the Dawn of Justice figures have already hit retail, but the upcoming villain-led film made a surprise showing, and Mattel revealed almost the entire team this weekend.
Interestingly enough, there was no Suicide Squad branding on any of the new figures. Where DC Collectibles and other specialty lines can get away with putting the word "suicide" on the box, it's a tougher sell for mass market figures that will show up in Target and Walmart. The Suicide Squad will fit in with the DC Multiverse line, offering 6" versions of the team in the branding you're already seeing for characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman for Dawn of Justice, and Flash and Green Arrow from their respective TV shows. Where those media properties get the film/show logo slapped on the side of the box, it'll be interesting to see what Mattel puts on these packages to indicate just where these guys came from.
Today, Mattel finally unveiled the final member of its Barbie-fied DC Trinity. Now Superman can partner up with Batman and Wonder Woman for all kinds of outrageous fashion adventures. Will Darkseid's attack close down the mall and prevent Clark from buying a new flannel shirt? Will Batman finally muster up enough courage to ask Wonder Woman to the Spring Fling? Can the T-birds finally take the Scorpions out on Thunder Road?
For a mass-market figure, the Henry Cavill Ken doll head isn't all that bad. It's got those piercing blue eyes; the thick, expressive eyebrows; the cleft chin and strong jawline; it even looks as if he's silently judging you for having your doubts about the DC Cinematic Universe. Or maybe he's just giving you stone cold Blue Steel right in the kisser.
Boy, these new Barbie body types are sure getting really specific. I mean, it makes sense for Mattel to attempt to reach a broader, more diverse audience by releasing new Barbies that better match the girls and young women of the world, but aging, rich white dude with trust issues hardly seems like it will strike the right chord. The only thing this might strike is fear into the hearts of criminals.
Though Mattel had announced the full DC Trinity (in their Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice garb) would be getting the Barbie treatment at San Diego Comic-Con last year, the only doll anyone got to see was Wonder Woman. The Amazonian princess certainly looked the part, but nobody really knew what to expect from a potential Batman or Superman at the time. With Toy Fair 2016 right around the corner, and Mattel having a large Barbie and DC Comics presence at the show, it seemed like we might get our first glimpse at the Bruce and Clark Ken dolls in a few weeks. Thanks to Amazon, we no longer have to wait for Batman.
For at least a generation, Barbie has been a controversial figure. Mattel wants to emphasize her independence and her range of careers, but most people who look at her just see a body. Traditionally, a body with huge breasts, a very narrow waist, and feet that can only wear high heels. A body that is available in a brown version, but that everyone knows is meant to be white.
Mattel is now trying something bigger and newer with Barbie. The company has introducing three new body types; in addition to Original Barbie, she now comes in Curvy, Petite, and Tall. Mattel had already been working on being more inclusive of skin colors and hair types, so those factors combine with these new bodies to create a far wider variety of Barbie possibilities.
Unless you stockpiled up on Real Ghostbusters toys back in the '80s when the cartoon first ran, it's been a challenge to lock down Ghostbuster toys. Mattel's efforts to celebrate the 30th anniversary with a new line was a great idea in theory, but the execution was supremely lacking. It was impossible to find most of the figures made available, and Mattel's subscription service to get the figures out wasn't exactly met with open arms by the masses. Other companies have jumped in to the fill the void for the classic film, but there was reason to be concerned about Mattel's plans for the all-female Ghostbusters reboot/remake arriving later this year.
That's why it came as such a surprise when director Paul Feig intimated there would indeed be action figures coming. It was even more of a surprise when he dropped the first picture of the four leading ladies rocking proton packs this week on Twitter. At a time when there's a bit of unease between consumers and manufacturers over the way female figures are made available and sold at retail, seeing this kind of support for Ghostbusters months in advance of the film's release bodes well. That is, if Mattel can actually deliver consistently this time around.
Back in April, DC Comics and Mattel (as well as other merchandising partners) revealed the DC Super Hero Girls to the world. Back in the spring, there was little information about what the line would be beyond vague promises of figures, dolls, comics, books and clothing themed around a new interpretation of DC's incredible stable of female superheroes. At New York Comic Con, the world got its first in-person glimpse at the stylized line, including dolls based on Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Harley Quinn and more, along with other items like skateboards, t-shirts, notebooks and headphones. It seems DC and its partners are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the DC Super Hero Girls line. Good.
For too long, the market has been devoid of items targeted specifically at the one demographic that's been desperate for this kind of attention--young girls. DC Super Hero Girls takes a bit of inspiration from lines like Monster High and Ever After High, both of which have seen tremendous success under Mattel's watch. Instead of crafting original figures based on monsters or storybook characters from hundreds of years ago, this line has the advantage of featuring familiar heroes and villains from DC's vast stable. I'll admit to being a little worried about the style based on those previous Mattel figure lines. After seeing the DC Super Hero Girls in person, those worries were assuaged. It's clear that DC and Mattel, and more importantly the fans, are going to have a lot to look forward to when the DC Super Hero Girls launch in 2016.
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