Sweatpants & Coffee by Michael Boehm
<snip> Would your son want to play with an action figure of Rey, the central figure in the latest Star Wars film? Would your daughter? It’s too bad they don’t have the choice; Hasbro, among other toymakers, left out the one key female figure in their The Force Awakens game sets. Hasbro says it was to preserve plot secrets, but an industry insider said the choice was deliberate. The insider, who spoke to Sweatpants & Coffee on condition of anonymity, said the decision to exclude Rey was based on marketing assumptions and not for plot reasons. Manufacturers of products that tie into popular movies have been in the news in recent months for appearing to favor male characters over female ones. Products featuring popular science fiction, fantasy, and superhero movies have marginalized or completely excluded the female characters.
The Star Wars: Monopoly game was released in September, months before the movie’s release, and Rey was not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance,” according to the statement. “Absolute rubbish,” said John Marcotte, founder of Heroic Girls, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive strong role models for young women. “Hasbro is merely trying to save face. Monopoly is a game about buying and selling properties.
Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider. “We know what sells,” the industry insider was told. “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.” Lucasfilm did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
The industry insider went on to describe how excluding female action characters has been a common yet frustrating trend over the past few years. “Diminishing of girl characters is common in the industry. Power Rangers asked us to do it. Paw Patrol, too.”
It is not uncommon for female action characters to be excluded from toy product tie-ins, Marcotte concurred. He highlighted the most recent Avengers movie as an example. “
“Princess toy sales are in freefall. Disney can’t give away princess toys anymore,” according to the insider. And yet, the insider said, the directive is there: Maintain the sharp boy/girl product division. Marginalize girl characters in items not specifically marketed as girl-oriented. The toy industry is more gender-divided now than at any time in the past 50 years, according to Elizabeth Sweet, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Davis. </snip>