Friday, February 3, 2012

Marketing sexism! I should have known you were holding merchandising’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I walked into Toys R' Us.

Many of you may have stumbled upon the fabulous work of SPARK and Powered by Girl through my frequent shout outs. If so, you might know that they've started a great Toy Store Action that focuses the conversation sparked by the LEGO Friends line towards larger issues of gendered marketing. Basically, the action consists of going into toy stores, taking pictures of Post-Its that question some of the limiting gender roles being promoted by toys, sharing the pictures online, and then removing the notes to make sure no hard working employees have a crap day. The first crop of pictures has been popping up, and this one caught my eye.

It’s something called a “Battle Pack.” It features three action figures labeled “Rebel Heroes.” It’s been awhile since I ventured into the world of Star Wars action figures, although I still have the box containing my relatively small childhood set under my bed.[1] So maybe my memory is fuzzy, and the packaging logic on these toys has always made little to no sense. There is no logical reason why Darth Maul is all over this design, for example. But can someone please explain to me why C3PO is a “Rebel Hero” and not Leia? C fucking 3PO?!

I’m not sure if Hasbro is aware of the fact that Leia was one of the three founders of the Rebel Alliance.[2] I think that qualifies her as a “Rebel Hero.” She is also always packing heat, good action figure selling point there. And, as a human, she should probably get hero priority over an appliance.[3] I went on Hasbro’s website to do some back up research and found that while Leia is fully represented in action figure form, she is pretty difficult to search, (I only found two action figure incarnations.) Meanwhile, I discovered a side bar that allowed me to narrow down my Star Wars product choices by “Gender.”

The options:

Boys (693)

Both (92)

Products listed under “both” were decidedly less awesome than those under “boys.” Examples; a very weird, Barbie-esque Aunt Beru doll, (who designs these things?) vs. LEGO Millennium Falcon.

Look, I can’t say for sure what is going on here. I wasn’t at the store when this photo was taken.[5] For all I know, there was a whole shelf of badass Leia action figures right around the corner. But I have a baaad feeling about this. Something here screams sexism. Why else would marketers assume a kid would prefer this in a “Battle Pack”:

The best 3PO could do in a battle was pull a "Merry and Pippin." And his rendition was more awkward. 

As opposed to this:

Seriously, who looks more battle-ready to you?

[1] Most of the main characters, three incarnations of Leia. Mostly my sister and I just mooched off of our cousin’s massive collection.

[2] Along with her dad, and Mon Mothma. Another lady. Han and Chewie were pretty late in getting on board with that particular insurrection.

[3] All my love to the droids, but let’s be honest.

[5] I will be hitting Target this weekend, camera in hand. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, 3P0's plan was decidedly awkward, but at least he had a plan, as in "Ambush Now!", whereas for Merry and Pippin it was just "Throw rocks and run!"