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We do our best to allow Newt to express herself and explore what she wants to explore, whether that be in what she wears, what she reads, what she watches or what she chooses to play with. But with 2 geek parents, the kid has more exposure to geek culture than most. She is only 5 years old and has already been to 2 Star Wars Celebrations, been to Megacon twice and to Tampa Comiccon 3 times. Luckily for all of us, Newt loves all things geek. Many geeks have collections- probably because of our obsessive tendencies, but one of the most common geek collections is toys. Geek culture in some ways does tend to be more egalitarian than some other groups of people; however, there are still some “challenges” in raising a geek girl. I have a million different thoughts about raising a geek girl, they just won’t all fit in one post, so my intention is to start a series of posts about this topic, a collection if you will. But today- to kick things off, I am just going to discuss toys, and to narrow the scope even more- specifically toys related to Marvel Comics that have been available to purchase new in the last several years. Over the next several posts, I will look at some other geek toy brands.
The term “geek” means different things to different people, so for my purposes, this infographic does a better job explaining what I mean than I ever could.
There are 2 main comic books companies people are aware of; DC and Marvel. Marvel Comics has done an outstanding job in recent years of making movies to bring super heroes into the mainstream culture and they have some awesome super heroes on their roster: Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Antman, X-men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Daredevil to name a few. You might notice a few things here, such as I only named one female hero specifically. There are several female X-men and of course Gamora from Guardians, but the point is, slim pickin’s, but the pickin’s get even slimmer when we try to find toys of female Marvel characters. My daughter does have toy versions of most of the male super heroes and plays with them, but she identifies more with the female heroes.
In the the latest Avengers movie, there is an awesome scene in which Black Widow, who does not have any super powers but still manages to keep up with the boys that do, launches out of a jet on a motorcycle. It was such an awesome scene a toy was made depicting it…..but instead of Black Widow, it was Captain America? And beyond that, it is very difficult to find Black Widow toys and near impossible in brick and mortar stores. If you look on Amazon, you get a few options, such as here, but far less than most of her male counterparts. But while I’m discussing Marvel, it is necessary that I point out that Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 and this article discusses how that acquisition may be affecting the toy offerings of Marvel related toys marketed towards girls. Don’t worry- I’m not done with Disney yet- remember they own Star Wars too.
On to Gamora, the butt-kicking green alien from Guardians of the Galaxy. Like Black Widow, Gamora is largely absent from the toy shelves. Newt and my best friend’s 7 year old daughter have had lengthy discussions about their difficulties in obtaining Gamora action figures…ok- not lengthy, but they have bemoaned this issue. And fans beyond my 5 year old have also noticed her absence. Gamora has an even lighter presence on Amazon than Black Widow, and her figures are also pretty expensive and thus not really accessible to young kids.
But what about X-men and all of the cool female characters from that series? Well, the problem with finding X-men toys in general is due to the fact that Marvel does not have rights to the X-men movies and has to split the revenue with Fox for movie-based merchandising, so they don’t put time and effort into this franchise since the payout is a much lower percentage than their other properties. So… cool characters…no toys.
A few days ago when I decided I wanted to write about this topic, I truly could not recall more than one time when I saw a female Marvel character toy- not related to Disney Infinity– at Walmart, Target or Toys R Us. But then I saw it- on an end cap at Walmart, a display of Marvel Legends Infinite Series figures. There among the Iron Man, Captain America and Spiderman, were figures of Wasp, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Ultimate Spiderwoman, Hellcat, Spiderwoman and Spider-girl. Sure- they are not the mainstream, well known characters. Yes, they are each listed at $19.99- so a bit pricey, as they are marketed more towards teens and adults as collectibles. But, for now, I will take it and hope that it is a step in the right direction.