Why Toy Companies Hate Female Action Figures
January 17, 2012

I’m hoping you didn’t come here looking for facts. Or statistics. Or anecdotes from former toy company big wigs. All you’re gonna get is a flimsy theory pulled from CantinaDanny’s Action Figure Observer’s Field Guide. But it is true that, from the early days of the little plastic people, action figure lines have been light on the lady folk. Granted, the Star Wars movies themselves were pretty male centric but its funny to note that out of 100 vintage Star Wars figures, six were female. Five Princess Leias and a Sy Snootles. Somebody is probably going to correct me by saying something like: “The Death Star Droid was really a fembot!”

Mattel wins my G.R.O.S.S. award for not making Dale Arden for their Flash Gordon line. And for not including any females in their Battlestar Galactica line. And for not making Medusa, Andromeda, or the Stygian Witches for their Clash of the Titans line. AND, and this is a biggie, not making Mindy to go with their Mork figure!

On the other hand, MEGO was pretty good about including the gals. MEGO’s Love Boat had the best proportions: four male / two female (Julie and Vicky). Buck Rogers had Ardella and Wilma. Black Hole had Kate McCrae. All this despite the fact that MEGO had some missteps with a couple lady figures. And exhibiting that was kind’uv the purpose of this blog. There are at least two examples of female action figures that MEGO sculpted and released, then at some point realized were fugly, and then re-sculpted and re-released. Wow, good on you MEGO. Who does stuff like that?

fig 1. MEGO Comic Action Heroes Wonder Woman

BLOGfemaleAFs-ww

fig 2. MEGO Dukes of Hazzard Daisy Duke

BLOGfemaleAFs-dd

When my colleague, Professor Pretticute saw Wonder Woman #1 her comment was: “WTF is up with this figure? Dare I say, lady? That’s not my beloved Wonder Woman is it? It looks more like Chief Running Bear in drag. Yikes.” She wasn’t very forgiving with Wonder Woman #2, however: “She looks like she is a he and he is getting ready to drop the kids off at the pool, as they say.” Hard to argue. But IMHO, both #2′s are vast improvements. I know the toy companies will dig their heels in and say that female action figures just don’t sell. But maybe the truth is that sculpting female action figures is just really tricky!

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Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

21 Comments »

  • Clutch says:

    Those two WW figures look acceptable compared to that first Daisy Duke. Catherine Bach and/or the Dukes’ producers must certainly have seen it, ergo the second version. Like night and day, man. Heck, Kenner still hadn’t gotten Carrie Fisher’s likenesses correct by the 1990′s. I’m kind of relieved that Dale and the others got the *ahem* …shaft.

    • CantinaDan says:

      Bazinga! I was also thinking about how horrified Catherine Bach must’ve been seeing that figure.

      • Brainlock says:

        I remember we bought that first Daisy as a gag gift for dad back in the day, but he let us kids play with it. I never realized how fugly she was until now.

        also, didn’t Mego release Mrs. Walton in the 8″ line?

  • Dusty says:

    LOL, I always enjoy your blogs Cantina Danny, this one was a good one. I just about died after seeing the first versions of the two figures. Granted version #2 of both aren’t leaps and bounds better, atleast they tried to get it right the second time. Still, it is interesting how toy companies are still so afraid of getting icky girl cooties. :)

    D.

  • Jim Abell says:

    Okay, okay… I’m gonna be “that guy”. The Death Star Droid is not a female (well, last I heard), but EV-9D9 is (I know that “she’s” refered to by female pronouns in the novelization even though “she” was voiced by director Richard Marquand).

    • Cantina-Dan says:

      Haha, awesome! I feel like I knew that at some point, like after reading “Tales From Jabba’s Palace”, cause it rings a bell. Thanks, Jim, appreciate the insights!

  • Professor Pretticute says:

    Ok, I guess I should cut the #2′s a little slack. They really are much better than the dudes that came before. However, thats not to say that they couldn’t use some work.. Because they could. Big time. #2 Daisy Duke looks like a crazy Stepford wife with no eyelids. But Daisy #1 looks like my Aunt Lil from Boston, and that is not cute (fingers crossed that Lil isn’t into action figure blogs). Wonder Woman #2 has a much more feminine face but my original comment about her body and the awkward position it’s in stands. Someone should tell Mego that girls don’t poop and no one wants to see them looking like they are about to.

  • Mario says:

    Lovin’ it!

    Dan, is that my former CAH WW? I’d love to be part of AFI history. ; )

    • CantinaDan says:

      OMG – Mario! I didn’t make the connection. I’m an numbskull. I totally appreciated the note and, in fact, posted a pic of it on my facebook wall! For some reason, I thought you lived in L.A. Sorry, brother! But, yeah, that is totally your CAH WW! I had this blog in mind when I bought it.

  • Thomas says:

    As a kid I never wanted female figures. I remember not caring at all for She-Ra and even April O’Neil. I still remember going to Best and seeing April warming the pegs. There were literally 30 of them.

  • cordeliachasefan says:

    I always wanted female action figures when I was a kid. I think “Super Friends” had a lot to do with it as Wonder Woman has long been one of my favorite characters although she has mostly been eclipsed by Black Canary and Batgirl for me at this point. I know when I was growing up I had a bunch of Princess Leias, Super Powers Wonder Woman(my favorite SP figure growing up- I went through multiples of her), Teela, Evil-Lyn, The Sorceress and even Princess of Power figures.

    I still think some toy companies are reluctant to make female figures even if they are important to a particular series. (I am thinking Nancy Thompson from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” specifically). Anyway great blog topic.

  • demoncat says:

    nice article. bet Catherine Bach took one look at the first figure and went wt is that and thus the second one. the wonder woman ones both look like sadly guys in drag the second looking like she is ready to drop a dump. and was going to point out that ev9d9 is also female plus you forgot to mention ooola the dancing girl jabba fed to the rancor. and that one daisy duke figure looks like she is from children of the corn.

  • Emerald says:

    Back then there were lots of reasons for the subtle features of an attractive female figure to not come out right (mold shrinkage,high viscosity plastics, etc.)

    But there really is no excuse anymore other than the idea in toy companie’s minds that the toy aisle should still be gender-specific.

  • [...] Terrible MEGO Wonder Woman Action Figure [...]

  • David Pender says:

    I had stopped buying action figjures after Star Wars ended the Kenner lines back in ’85 mostly because I became interested in girls instead of action figures and because I was able to get all of the Princess Leia figures, I had no idea the females were hard to come by until I began collecting the Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation figures and had a time finding the series one Deanna Troi but this was due to Marina Sirtis not liking the “extra dimensions” the figure had. I did find one after more than a year at a K-Mart for five bucks and still have her to this day. If I see a female figure, you’re darn tooting I’m buying her.

  • demoncat says:

    also should mention mon motha was another female that kenner did give a figure too. still the toy companies are of the belief that boys will not buy female figures yet its the female figures rarity that are the collectible ones collectors go for.

  • Those are some ugly female figures. Hard to believe they actually made it to maket.

    Perhaps the toy manufacturers should take a look at some of the female anime figurines out there. They have some beautiful women posing as action heroines. Of course being Japanese they are a little over the top for American audiences but the manufacturers could put some clothes on the toys.

    Anyway the anime figures are actually pretty. Many cost $100 but someone could design a toy that doesn’t look like a bodybuilder in drag.

    Thanks

  • BrandyVSOP says:

    Nice Article.
    I personally only buy Female Action Figures. But they do have to good looking.
    Mostly I buy on Ebay $ 5-20.00 range. My collection is growing all the time. But even doing a search on Ebay with the terms +(Woman,Female) it’s hard pressed to come up with much. I have to search by name almost, to get much. Would love to see many more made. But then I would be buying more.

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