Think for a moment about classic female superheroes and villains. Wonder Woman. Harley Quinn. Catwoman. Powergirl. What are the images in your mind? Skintight suits? Boob windows? Tiny skirts? In a burst of fresh toy design that follows on the lead of designers like Arklu and IAmElemental, Mattel teamed with a group of women toy designers to create action figures for girls. The results, seen above, are Mattel’s line of 12″ DC SuperHero Girls, and we love everything about them.
First, let’s unpack that name: SuperHero Girls. By just naming them superheroes, they’ve removed any immediate gendering of heroism, but by calling them “Girls”, Mattel is also marking them out as specifically for little girls to play with. The design team focused on feedback from girls who initially thought the toys were too “girly” and “skinny”, and based the figures’ bodies on gymnasts and basketball players. While hopefully lots of little boys will be into the toys, too, it’s nice to see that these heroes are being marketed to girls specifically as an alternative to yet another princess or Barbie. Best of all, the toys each do a great job of staying true to their characters without either sexualizing them or defanging them. Harley Quinn is still a sassy girl with a giant mallet and rainbow hair, and Wonder Woman is still wielding the Lasso of Truth, but neither character has been turned into a boobtacular male fantasy. Supergirl’s in her classic red skirt, but it’s at a length that real little girl could actually wear as a Halloween costume – or, y’know, just for fun. And check out Batgirl’s awesome Docs! And the way they incorporated Ivy’s vines! These aren’t statues to be put in a collector’s case, they’re realistically muscular, articulated toys, perfect for kids who want to save the day.