Star Wars makes great strides in creating strong female characters, but the toy makers lag far behind

 

Without revealing any spoilers about the new Star Wars movie, I can safely say this… they have made great strides in creating  strong female characters.

While there were initial concerns about there being relatively few female characters in the lineup, seeing the movie puts the fears to doubt. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is a great leap forward. She’s definitely a character that both girls and boys can get excited about.

Princess Leia was progressively strong for a female character as things stood back in the 1980’s, but she still needed a fair amount of rescuing. Rey, in contrast, breaks out into new territory and stands on her own as a heroic character.

As a father with a daughter, I’m excited to see Star Wars send this message. Not that I’m taking my daughter to see the movie… she gets too scared to even see the original movies.  However, she likes to hear about the story and it’s great to be able to tell her what a strong character Rey is.

Unfortunately, it seems that the toy makers haven’t taken up the charge in the same way.  One of the ways that the original Star Wars movie broke new ground was in their extensive merchandising tie-ins, particularly around the toys. Kids left the movie not wanting it to end, and the toys allowed them to keep playing the most exciting parts over and over.

This is still true in 2015, and the market is absolutely flooded with Star Wars themed toys. Kylo Ren’s face is plastered everywhere, and there are all sorts of figures and vehicles. However, I’m sad to say that Rey is not well represented.

My daughter was excited to hear about Rey’s strong character, and I thought it would be nice to get her a Rey figure to play with. I stopped off at a Toys R Us to see what was available. This close to Christmas, I expected the stock to be picked over, and sure enough it was.  Kylo Ren and BB-8 were nowhere to be found, but there were plenty of other characters around. There were lots of Finn (the male lead) and Poe Dameron (the rebel pilot). And there were all sorts of other vehicles and figures. But not a single Rey.

Now, it’s possible that all of the Rey figure were snapped up, leaving lots of Finns and Poes, but I’m doubtful. I followed the build up to the movie closely, and even I was surprised by what a strong character Rey turned out to be.  While it’s possible that Rey was manufactured in equal numbers to the other characters, I’m skeptical.  Finn and Poe were heavily cross-marketed in lots of items, but Rey was absent.  I’m pretty sure that the toy makers figured that Star Wars figures were for boys, and they wouldn’t need to manufacture as many Rey figures.

Thankfully, Amazon came to the rescue.  While I couldn’t find an individual Rey figure, I did find a set of six figures that included Rey.

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Ayelet with her completed Rey coloring page

The good news is that there are more movies coming out in the next few years.  Hopefully Hasbro will get it right next time.

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