‘Girly’ Action Figures

by sketchyfeminist

My dad just sent me a link to this Fast Company article, about a new line of “badass” female action figures that was funded by a Kickstarter campaign:


The line of figures is called IAmElemental (http://iamelemental.com/), with each figure “personifying seven elements of courage: bravery, energy, honesty, industry, enthusiasm, persistence, and fear.” IAmElemental was 200% funded in 2 days and is now 465% funded.

I don’t really remember playing with “action figures” all that much as a kid. I mean, I’m sure I did when they were around; I played with whatever random stuffed animal or toy was to hand when the mood was on me. (Yeah, I had a lot of dolls, stuffed animals and My Little Ponies. And there is nothing wrong with that.) I just didn’t own many action figures, I think. I remember a friend of mine having some of those Power Rangers toys that could transform. Those were cool. They were heavy, with lots of metal parts, and I remember thinking, “Hey, this is different.” I think I was more impressed with how well-made they were than excited by the idea of playing with them, though.

A Tip of the Hat: to IAmElemental. As someone who’s still mad there’s no “official” Katara action figure for the Avatar: TLA cartoon (though there is a plushie), it’s nice to see toymakers taking concrete steps to prove “there is a market” for action figures aimed at girls.

And a Wag of the Finger: to IAmElemental. On the IAmElemental website, both “Enthusiasm” and “Industry” (see the “Elements” page) are shown in something quite close to the “Stop Taking This Picture” pose. I mean, there’s no smoldering over-the-shoulder look, but still: bottom and breasts at once. That takes a very specific angle. I know I’m picking at nits here, and these are hardly provocative stances (and that, since one of the selling points of these figures is that they don’t have oversized bosoms and butt cracks, you kind of have to show that they don’t, for marketing reasons). I just think it’s worth noting how inescapable that pose really has turned out to be.

Now, as to how many girls (or kids in general) are going to gravitate towards such high-concept action figures as personifications of “energy” and “industry”, that’s a different question. But it’s also kind of not the point. As I understand it, the driving force behind toy profits is still more the parents than their kids, and there is clearly demand for this kind of thing from a lot of parents out there, who want their kids to have a wider range of options.

And I would have played with them. In my experience, kids play with the toys they have.