Tag Archives: kids

“I’ve just had a really long day.”

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She suddenly looked up at me, big blue eyes, glistening, “I’m sorry. I’ve just had a really long day.”

I cocked my head to the side and furrowed my brow to indicate I had no idea what she was talking about.”

She looked down sheepishly. “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier. I’ve just had a long day.”

Quickly, and with a little amusement, I mentally reviewed this “really long day” for my not-yet-6-year-old.

This day was my first day back to work after a week vacation, but she still had the day off for teacher planning day following her spring break.

I let her sleep until the last possible minute. I even did her chores of feeding her dogs and fish. I let her have M&M cookies for breakfast. She came with me to work, and she quickly took over my office, the conference room, and eventually my boss’s office with her LalaLoopsies, markers, paper, tape, sand. Plenty of play on her tablet. Then, after work, she got a quick nap in the car on the way to dance. After dance, some running around on playground with friends. Tried out a new podcast on the way home, which she loved, then made plans to take the crazy dog for a walk. (We have 2 labs. One is old and calm. The other is only 2- that is the crazy dog.)

It was then she snapped.

Except, she really didn’t. I think she did yell at the dog, who was jumping, excited to see her, and briefly had a tone in her voice with me, that I called her on. For me, it was quickly forgotten. But as we walked with the dog, enjoying the weather and the discussion, it was bothering her- which brings me to the start.

I fought my natural inclination to respond with a sarcastic comment about wishing I had really long days like hers, and attended to HER feelings instead of mine. I thought about what I want when I am tired and irritable. I just want someone to hear me.

I brushed a wayward curl out of her face as I smiled at her. I acknowledged her really long day. I told her that when we got home we would eat and she could have a relaxing bath and then we would cuddle and read together before bedtime.

 

Update to my last post…

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Sometimes being a mom means having a 10 minute, in-depth, conversation about diarrhea while listening to your kid have diarrhea. Apparently 5 year olds honestly think there is some kind of world record having to do with diarrhea.

Being a mom is super glamorous.

Stubbed toes won’t get my husband out of our pottery date- but this might. UGH!

“Mama, you are just like a nurse.”

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For much of the past week, the hubby has had a bit of a cold. Nothing earth shattering and for the most part, he handles himself well when sick.

However, when either of us are sick, we tend to sleep separately. Just makes it easier so the tossing and turning won’t keep the other up and the sickie can get comfortable without having to account for another person. So this week, I have slept on the couch a few nights. No biggie.

Two nights ago, since I had to go to work the next day and he didn’t, he suggested Newt and I go to sleep in our bed and he would sleep on the couch. No problemo. It would save time from our nighttime routine when I put her to bed. She fell asleep fine but I couldn’t fall asleep until probably 2 am. Again- whatever. It happens to me a couple of times a week.

Until approximately an hour later, when I woke to the sounds of my sweet daughter violently retching in my bed. I guess the best thing about the rest of that night is that she was turned away from me and most of the considerable mess landed on the floor and down the side of the mattress.

I did a pretty good job suppressing my own gag reflex until I was safely in a different room than the kiddo, who kept apologizing. I spent the rest of the night doing laundry, holding her hair and her, and cleaning up puke. Eventually my husband joined in to help and we ended up blowing up the air mattress and all 3 of us slept in the living room.

As the sun was coming up, Newt and I had a nice moment noticing that had we actually slept, my alarm would be going off at that moment in time. Instead, we were sitting on a blow up mattress watching old Smurfs cartoons with a puke bucket between us. Good times.

Midway through the next day (yesterday for those keeping track), I started to feel not only queasy, but also a sore throat coming on. The good ole double whammy. But, I pressed on, trying to work from home and take care of the family. Several hours later, after much frustration and not much work done, it was almost time for bed. And then, the love of my life (besides my kid), stretched his legs out and kicked the coffee table, splitting his big toe nail in half and breaking in down about half way. Cursing and blood ensued.

Newt cried to see her daddy in pain, but as soon as I grabbed the first aid supplies, she was stopped and watched intently as I cleaned his wounds and carefully bandaged his toe. She commented, “Mama, you are just like a nurse.” I was pleased that she recognized the additional hat I had been wearing for the last several days.

That’s the thing. Moms often have to be like nurses. And teachers and therapists and cops and seamstresses and short order cooks and chauffeurs and secretaries and mediators and the list goes on and on. We have to know how to do a lot of things (or how to use Google well) and we don’t usually have time to prepare for which skills we might need to use in a given moment. And we have to do these things even when we are not feeling well ourselves.

So this week, even though I was hit with the double whammy of 2 different illnesses at the same time, thankfully I had the “mom versions” of them, which is apparently when moms feel symptoms less intensely than other family members in order to still carry on their “nursing” duties. The mom version of the illness does seem to come with the additional symptom (at least for me) of significant irritability when not directly administering comforting measures to others.

Oh- and to my husband- if you think that the little trick that you did with your toe will get you out of our triple date tomorrow to go paint pottery- you are sorely mistaken.  Love you!

I will never* homeschool my kid.

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Don’t worry. This isn’t a post critical of the concept of homeschooling. I fully accept it as a valid educational decision that works really well for certain families. Mine is just not one of them.

Sure, there are plenty of families who choose to homeschool for really, really scary reasons. And plenty who say they are homeschooling but there is not a lick of education actually happening. Just as there are really messed up family situations for many kids in public school or private school. And believe me, I have seen all of those kids at some point in my career as a therapist.

But this post is just about knowing yourself and your limits as a parent.

There is nothing, not a person or thing, on this entire planet that I love more than I love my daughter. I love watching her learn new things and explore her world. There is nothing better than cuddling with her. But, by the time Monday rolls around each week, we are both ready for a break from each other.

I know home schooling is not for our family because I would not be the best mom or teacher I could be. I know my limits and the limits of my patience. The healthiest relationship my kid and I can have is one where we have a healthy amount of time not together. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

One of my good friends from high school home schools her 2 kids. They live out of state and though I end up seeing my friend every year or so, I haven’t seen her kids in several years but was able to hang out with them last weekend. I can say that her 2 home schooled kids are deliciously weird. They have social skills and all- they aren’t “weird” weird. And I don’t really thinks it’s because of being home schooled. My public school educated kid is pretty darn weird too. Five years old and she announced yesterday that she wants to be a cryptozoologist when she grows up.

 

*I do know to never say never. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I would probably homeschool.

 

 

Go Shout Love…because cancer really sucks

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I woke up yesterday morning super excited to see the paintings Newt and I did and donated for the Go Shout Love auction to benefit Anya and her family, posted on their Instagram page in preparation for the auction Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget to check out the stuff for auction here. It is 1/23/16 to 1/24/16. There is some really cute stuff.

A few short hours later I learned that a good friend and great woman was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

So between contemplating what my friend is facing and what little Anya has already been through and what she still faces, all I can say is, cancer sucks.

I can’t fix it for either of them. I can’t do a great, life changing thing for them. But I can do small things. Small things with great love. For my friend, this might include cupcakes and laughing at inappropriate things. It already included me taking Jedi selfies to send to her as she waited for the dr.

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For Anya, I am just trying to spread the word for ways to help her and her family. We also made 2 paintings to donate for her auction.

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Newt and I collaborated on this piece. As you can clearly see, there is a green unicorn with blue magic coming out of its horn, and a large, translucent dragon breathing fire. You can own this masterpiece yourself by bidding on it here. It’s item #056.

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I was inspired by the Batman shirt that was designed specially for Anya. I know, doesn’t look Batmany, but the shirt says, “Greatness often arises from darkness,” which is the truth. You can bid on this lovely painting here as well. This one is item #057.

You can also still purchase the t-shirts that were made for Anya here. They are really, super soft and comfy, and cute!

 

Anya Update

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Anya Update

Anya’s Go Shout Love profile is up on their website. As I noted in my last post, Anya is the featured child for the entire month of January. What this means is that Go Shout Love developed not one, but 2 t-shirts available for purchase, with proceeds going directly to Anya and her family to assist with medical and other costs. Each shirt is available in kids and adult sizes.

There will also be an auction through the Go Shout Love Instagram page on January 23rd and 24th with 100% of the money going to the family. You can still donate items for this auction or check it out on the 23rd and 24th to see if there is anything you would like to purchase.

Sarah and I are making the finishing touches on the things we are donating for auction. And you KNOW that everyone in our house will have one of those Batman Shirts!!!

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Raising a Geek Girl: Curating the Toy Collection- Star Wars Edition Part II- Beyond Leia

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This post contains affiliate links.

In my last post, I covered some of the options for Princess Leia toys that are available. As of this writing, Princess Leia has been no less than a cultural icon for 38 years. She is truly a strong female character, who is a princess- now Disney Princess actually, and is a woman who can stand up to evil and fire a blaster with precision while wearing dresses and keeping her hair immaculately coiffed. It is certainly not necessary for a woman to have a put together appearance while being strong, but for my kid that who wants to wear only dresses, pink and purple and loves all things glitter, Leia is a hero she can identify with.

Even though Star Wars brought us an enduring image of female strength, the original movies themselves did not have a great many other women in them. With the release of Episodes I-III, Queen Amidala was introduced. Amidala was a woman who knew how to dress and was certainly brave, but she does not seem to have the same resonance with people as Leia. While there are some toys of Amidala still available, such as the Fashion Play Set discussed in the Leia edition, a quick search for Amidala or Padme on Amazon reveals mostly costumes.

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I do particularly like the below pose of the 4th figure from above. She was not a sex slave like Gold Bikini Leia was in her chained movie scene- but that doesn’t stop her from being marketed sexily. Note in the pose below how the chain is wrapped around her neck, not secured to her- but she holds it in her hands like a feather boa- rather than taking it off and kicking some butt. ALSO- during this scene in the movie, Anakin and Obi Wan are actually chained and in the arena with her. In my cursory internet search, I could find action figures of Anakin and Obi Wan from this scene but neither had chains. I am not saying they don’t exist- I am just saying if they do, they are so buried amidst their other action figure likenesses that I could not easily find them. Amidala has very little toys available and one of them might as well be called “sexy Padme with chain.” Super.

amidala 5 In a little over a month, the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters and already there is a huge marketing push for toys, clothes, anything. It does appear that Disney and LucasFilms are considering girls this time. A woman, Rey, is featured prominently in all advertising and already has so many toys available- and we don’t even yet know who the heck she is or what she is like! Though recently released footage shows her piloting the Millennium Falcon like a boss.

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One of the things my husband has always says, is that the bad guys really look cooler than the good guys in Star Wars. It is true and my kid and husband are both drawn to the bad guy toys over the toys of the good guys- I mean Darth Vader is the ultimate image of movie villain. This Halloween, two of the most popular Halloween costumes I saw were the girl versions of Vader and a Stormtrooper. A couple of years ago, Newt was Vader for Halloween- though a slightly more “Newt” version- as she insisted her costume be pink and have glitter “all over it.”

Princess Vader Trick or Treating at Tampa History Center in 2013

Princess Vader Trick or Treating at Tampa History Center in 2013

One of the coolest looking characters from any of the Star Wars movies in my opinion is Captain Phasma.

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Yes, Captain Phasma is a villain, but guess what? Phasma is also a woman!! None other than Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie.

Image courtesy of ew.com

Image courtesy of ew.com And click on the image to read Ms. Christie’s take on why her character is good for girls.

And of course….TOYS!! Readily available TOYS!!!

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But there are a few more female characters from the Star Wars Universe I can’t leave out. Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and Hera and Sabine from Star Wars Rebels.

Left to right: Sabine, Hera, Ahsoka

Left to right: Sabine, Hera, Ahsoka

Cool looking (and non-villainous), strong, female characters. Far under-represented in the toy lines. This article discusses the issue well, especially the lack of Hera merchandise- which is crazy because Hera is the coolest of the bunch- ask my kid and her friend. The article also has a breakdown of some of the actual numbers of merchandise produced by character. There are a few figures, though, of course packaged with a male toy.

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It is not a toy, but last weekend I did make a dress for my daughter and one for her friend with Star Wars Rebels fabric because you just can’t find apparel with Hera and Sabine’s likenesses on it. Nothing fancy- but since I don’t really know how to sew- not too bad, if I do say so myself. I actually used this tutorial to figure out how to make it, and if I could do it- really anyone could. Easy solution to the Geek Mom problem of not finding enough geeky clothes for their Geek Girls!! You can find this particular fabric on Amazon, Hancock Fabric or Jo Ann Fabric.

rebels dress

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Raising a Geek Girl: Curating the Toy Collection- Star Wars Edition Part I- Leia

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star wars army

This post contains affiliate links.

I was born the year the first Star Wars movie came out- which, of course, is actually Episode IV. My husband is a few years older than me, so while I probably wasn’t really introduced to the Star Wars Saga at least until Empire Strikes Back (1980), but more likely Return of the Jedi (1983), my husband has been there for the whole ride. In fact he was 5 years old when A New Hope came out in 1977- the same age as our daughter is now and the same age she will be when she sees her first Star Wars movie in theaters.

When I was a kid, I remember loving the movies. I had a Star Wars book set, but I don’t think I had any Star Wars toys. My husband, on the other hand, had many. In fact, we still have most of his original Star Wars toys in our garage, as well as some sheets and curtains. Don’t get excited- they were well loved and well used, therefore are not worth much more than the joy they continue to bring my husband and now my daughter. I guess that means they are priceless.

There is so much to say about the cultural significance of Star Wars, but I’m just talking about toys here. Specifically toys that appeal to girls too. All in all, sometimes Star Wars does really well at appealing to everyone and sometimes Star Wars does very poorly in representing girls/women in their toy lines.

Let me start off my saying, my kid loves all things Star Wars. If you notice the toys in the picture above, they are almost exclusively male characters and that has not stopped her love of the toys. She has pictures in her room and clothes that have some of the female characters from Star Wars, but limited toys.

Princess Leia

In the original Trilogy, Princess Leia was really the only female character. There were like 3 other females in the movie in total- maybe, in the background. But what a force of nature. Leia is just so bad ass. So there is usually the requisite Leia figure in any generation of the toy lines. It’s not really difficult to find Leia figures; however there was some issues when Disney acquired Star Wars and released a new wave of toys featuring all of the main characters from the original Trilogy EXCEPT Leia. She’s in there now, and here is a run down of some of the more specific Leia toys available.

Queen Amidala and Princess Leia Fashion Set

Queen Amidala and Princess Leia Fashion Set

Several years ago, when Newt was a toddler, we happened upon “Fashion Play Sets” for Queen Amidala and Princess Leia at one of the Disney Parks. These are similar to the line of small Disney Princess dolls that have multiple dresses they can change into. While I am pleased they did not include a pink dress in either set- Queen Amidala comes with a “framed picture” of her hubby, Anakin, while Leia has one of the dreamy, if scruffy looking, Han Solo. Star Wars has never been accused of passing the Bechdel Test, but that is a bit much. It looks like these are not available separately anymore, but a combined set is available through Amazon and possibly still at the Disney Parks. The dolls each have only 3, instead of the previous 6 outfit changes, but don’t worry, they still come with the pictures of their hunks. Though my sarcasm is apparent at a pretty annoying choice they made when marketing these dolls to girls, the rest of it really is the sort of thing right up my fancy and fashionable daughter’s alley.

Combined Amidala and Leia Fashion Play Set

Combined Amidala and Leia Fashion Play Set

The most prevalent option for Leia toys are of her in her iconic white dress and hair buns.

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You might find some of her dressed as the bounty hunter, Boushh

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And there are a few other outfits or versions you might find.

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And then there is Slave Leia.

A few days ago, word broke that Disney will be phasing out the Slave Leia merchandising. Needless to say, this decision was met with mixed emotions from fans, myself included. It’s clear why this image of Leia is so popular- she looked amazing! Like the most beautiful woman in the galaxy, amazing. And merchandise of slave Leia also looks amazing- ok, either amazing or really weird. But as amazing as she looks in the gold bikini, let’s not forget that it was not an outfit she wore on a couple’s getaway with Han, she was wearing it in scenes in which she was essentially a sex slave. Here is a really good summary, from Dylan Todd, of why it does make sense to stop marketing this image of Leia, especially to children. For me, as a mother trying to teach her daughter about her body being her own and that no one should touch her without her permission, it does feel like the right step to no longer make toys for children depicting their heroine in a state of sexual subjugation and slavery.

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On a completely different note, at Tampa Comiccon in August this year, we waited in line for several hours for Newt to have the chance to have a picture taken with Princess Leia herself, Carrier Fisher. She had the chance to meet Ms. Fisher and get a hug from her, take a cute picture and got a kiss from Ms. Fisher’s dog.

Newt and Leia

When the full trailer for the new Star Wars movie came out, Matt and I were excited to help Newt make the connection between her experience at Comiccon and the new movie. We paused the trailer here:

Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm

Newt looked at it for a few, long seconds and then proclaimed, “That’s not Princess Leia. Princess Leia wears glasses.” Touche’.

**Note- my kid does not really have a mustache and usually does not wear a mask, but as with all super heroes, she has to protect her secret identity.

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Being a mom means wearing many hats

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Today is one of those days that I feel the pressure of too much to do and not enough time. On top of that, I feel like I have to shift gears so much I can’t keep anything straight.

I’m still at my office as I write this, taking a mental break for a second. But today, I have been many things:

Clinical Supervisor– I started my day with one of my supervisees. Case reviews.

Therapist– Followed up with therapy with an actual client. Great session.

Internet provider wannabe– then on to trying to solve the problem of the malfunctioning internet in the building next door. No answers.

Manager– fielding questions and calls from clients, therapists, etc, sending emails, answering my phone.

IT person– Still trying to sort out changes due to the ICD-10 in our computer systems. One problem is fixed- 4 more start.

Things still left to do tonight:

  1. Hug and snuggle my kiddo and read her a book before tucking her in.
  2. Eat dinner
  3. Make a Daisy Head Mayzie costume for said kiddo to wear to school tomorrow.
  4. Hot glue tulle on kiddo’s tiny witch hat to make it “fancier” for her costume tomorrow night (Trunk or Treat at school) and Saturday night (Halloween).

Things I probably won’t get to tonight:

  1. Make Star Wars Rebels dress for best friend’s daughter’s birthday. (There is a complete lack of wardrobe options having the girl characters from that cartoon. Shameful).
  2. Research new project at work.
  3. Read for pleasure
  4. Dishes
  5. Laundry
  6. Finally watch Sunday’s Walking Dead episode that has already been moderately spoiled for me just due to social media exposure- but seriously people- I have NO TIME!!!

And while I don’t believe it’s an omen or anything, I think it is hilarious that my Joy Funko Pop figure has been falling down on her head all day- no matter how many times I put her back up. She has never done that before. I’m sure it’s nothing….

joy on her head

Now- back to work….

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Raising a Geek Girl: Curating the Toy “Collection”- Marvel edition

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This post contains affiliate links.

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.

Diagram of Geek Culture by Ibrahim Evsan

Diagram of Geek Culture by Ibrahim Evsan

Marvel Comics

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.

Black Widow Action Figure

Black Widow Action Figure

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.

Gamora Action Figure

Gamora Action Figure

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, HellcatSpiderwoman 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.

wasp captain marvel scarlet witch ultimate spiderwoman

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** Updated on 10/23/15 to clarify the licensing relationship between Marvel and Fox for X-men.
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