DC's new kid-focused, female-led superhero line Superhero Girls is already making its way into merchandise and animation — and it's heading to toyshelves too. But a new interview with the range's designers reveal that the toys had to be tweaked to be a bit more superheroic: at the behest of the young girls they're aimed at.
In terms of toys, DC Superhero Girls will launch with both a range of action figures — a relatively rare prospect for girl-targeted toylines, as action figures tend to be a boy-dominated market — and a larger-scaled series of dolls. The first six are based on the new tween designs for Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Bumblebee — but, as toy designer Christine Kim and Mattel Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson explain, the initial figures were seen by test audiences as not being "superheroic" enough. Not the best thing for a line of superhero toys.
Researchers found that girls didn't want the superheroes to be too girly, a problem with the first round of dolls that Mattel developed. One girl complained that the toys looked "more pretty than superhero," and another pointed out that Poison Ivy's scarf would only get in the way during a fight. Wonder Woman, meanwhile, was too skinny and not athletic enough.
Kim, the toy designer, instructed her team to use gymnasts, dancers, and basketball players as primers for sculpting more muscular versions of the dolls and action figures. "We wanted to have this very strong, toned body, but keeping in mind that they are still in high school, so they're not fully mature yet," Kim says. "But they still look like they can save the day instead of being saved." They also stuck with existing colours, leaving Supergirl's cape red instead of shifting to pink.
Kudos to the little girl who pointed out that Poison Ivy thing. See, even they think about practicality!
While the final dolls are still svelte and small-waisted, they at least look like they have some more muscle tone than a typical doll. It's also relieving to hear that Mattel didn't go with their gut and try to make them more appealing to girls just by turning their classic superhero costumes into a morass of pink.
Clearly, judging by the test responses, there's a market for cool superhero toys aimed at young girls — and so far, DC Superhero Girls looks like it's doing a pretty good job of that. It's only a good thing if it's getting more kids into the wonderful world of comic books!