Paul Harrison, an editor at Star Wars Collectible fan site Jedi Temple Archives, was at the New York Toy Fair last week, and on Tuesday, he posted an interview with a representative from Hasbro. He asked about the lack of female characters in their newest action figure lines. Their answer was plenty frustrating, but what’s happened since the story has hit the internet is even more concerning.
Specifically, Jedi Temple Archive asked:
Where are the action figures for the female characters from Rebels, like Hera, Sabine, or Maketh Tua? Male characters like Ezra and Kanan have been released multiple times already in many formats and scales, yet the best we’ve seen on shelves so far is a single Sabine with a non-removable helmet and a yet-to-be-released Hera, both of whom are packed with re-released Stormtroopers. Female characters have always played an integral role in the Star Wars saga, from Leia in the original trilogy to Padme in the prequels to Ahsoka and Asaaj in The Clone Wars and have always been among the first characters released in figure form, yet for this new chapter in the Saga, they’ve barely been a blip on the radar.
Hasbro feels they have released plenty of female characters in the line.
Which is a pretty clear “shut up, nerd” response if I’ve ever heard one. That’s where things jumped off. Women are already sick of poor representation in all media, not just comic books and movies. When you have a woman on your superhero team, and you leave her out of the apparel merchandising completely, that’s also telling fans to shut it. “Hey, so you got to talk in the movie or whatever, no one said you’d look cool on pajama pants. Quit whining.”
What’s pretty gross is Hasbro asking Jedi Temple Archive to change their answer. The new response reads:
Hasbro actually has some great new characters from Rebels hitting shelves now such as Sabine and Hera and have recently been releasing more females within our Black Series and Saga Legends line such as Mara Jade, Toryn Farr, Bastila Shan, Luminara Unduli, Padma [sic] Amidala (Geonosis), and a number of great Leia’s such as Ep IV, Endor, and the awesome Boushh disguise that was revealed at NYCC. (Editor’s Note: Hasbro has asked to have this answer revised.)
I AM PUBLIC RELATIONS BOT 5000. I AM HERE FOR DAMAGE CONTROL. SPIN SPIN SPIN *prints out list of 23 obscure characters no one asked for* KLAXON KLAXON KLAXON
The writers make it clear that they’re not mad at Joe Ninivaggi and Jeff Labovitz, two of the marketing guys at Hasbro, but I’ve never had anyone ask me after an interview transcript was posted (TRANSCRIPT, which is LITERALLY JUST A TRANSCRIPTION OF WHAT YOU LITERALLY ACTUALLY LITERALLY SAID) to change it up. Usually, people issue corrections or retractions or make new public statements entirely. So, the way they handled it in the first place was dismissive, and the followup was shady. This is not building confidence that they’re actually trying to put toys in stores that people want to buy.
I’m a Star Wars fan and a collector of original series toys, both vintage and new. I’ve never heard of Sabine or Hera, both of whom are from the more recent Star Wars Rebels cartoons, which are what most kids of the action-figure-playing age are into right now. This doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in buying any of the other Star Wars titles that are still releasing toys. But Hasbro’s choices for new Leia action figures right now have been limited (at least in stores) to Slave Leia, the worst representation of a teenager who led a galaxy-wide rebellion that you can get. And guess which line of toys are hard to find in major department stores anyway? Yeah, Star Wars Rebels. Hasbro is basically skipping over fans young and old with an interest in complete sets.
The Mary Sue has done the footwork on this and found that you can actually sort the toys on Hasbro’s website by gender, revealing 729 “boy” products, 25 non-gender-specific toys, and six “girl” toys. SIX. SIX TOYS. The “well, women don’t buy action figures” excuse can’t even begin to work when THERE ARE NO ACTION FIGURES THAT WE WANT TO BUY.
It’s also, y’know, insulting to male fans who like those characters. They also cannot buy things that don’t exist.
Via the Mary Sue