Mattel Wanted DC Superhero Girls Dolls To Be More Heroic Than Pretty


Gymnasts, basketball players and dancers with bodies of real women and athletic muscle tone were the basis for the sculptures for Mattel's new DC Superhero Girls line of action figures. The female lead design team has done what no other toy company has done before — crowdsourced from women and young girls the look of the new dolls that are targeted for girls who love super heroes just as much as boys do.

The result is a line of dolls that focused more on being heroic-looking rather than pretty. But we must say, the dolls are quite feminine and pretty to look at as well as looking realistically strong.

The first photos of the toys show the DC Superhero Girls from the animated series as 12-inch dolls targeted towards tweens with costumes that can be hung and hair that can be styled. Other online photos also show previews of 6-inch hard plastic action figures of Supergirl and Wonder Woman with fully articulated joints. The company also plans to create a Batgirl utility belt, which will stick to the original comic book and cartoon colors rather than be painted pink.

Previous super heroine action figures were sculpted either too manly or with too much emphasis put on skimpy costumes and breasts.

"Beautiful, but really sexualized. There's a very direct emphasis on a womanly part," said Christine Kim, one of Mattel's top designers who spearheaded the movement to redesign the way the company made action figures for girls.

According to reports, the biggest revelation during the crowdsourced design phase of the new line of action figures was young girls said they didn't want their super heroines to be "too girly" which was the main complaint about the first round of designs.

But after consulting with former staunch critics of Mattel: feminists bloggers and activists, the new dolls and action figures feature more athletic bodies of women who look like they will do the saving, rather than being damsels-in-distress themselves.

"It's everything we've been advocating for, right down to the muscle tone in the dolls," said Melissa Atkins Wardy, a mother of two and author who has been one of Mattel's biggest detractors.

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