Over at Bloomberg, Mattel toy designer Christine Kim and Mattel Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson explained how they helped design dolls that would showcase the characters’ strengths and appeal to fans of all genders.
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 colors, leaving Supergirl’s cape red instead of shifting to pink.
The initial designs were then tested at Mattel headquarters by “feminists, bloggers, and academics.” (A feminist Illuminati cabal, basically.) Tester Melissa Atkins Wardy explained to Bloomberg, “It’s everything we’ve been advocating for, right down to the muscle tone in the dolls.”
Although it seems at first glance that there’s still progress to be made with the line in terms of representing girls of color and girls with different body types, the dolls do seem head and shoulders above the usual superhero fare on the market for young women. (Honestly, the fact that DC Super Hero Girls exists at all still seems pretty remarkable to me.)
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