Many of you have probably heard of Paul Dini’s interview on Kevin Smith’s Fatman On Batman podcast, where Dini comments that shows on Cartoon Network with large female followings were actually being canceled, because ‘girls don’t buy the toys.’ So the network wants shows that appeal primarily to boys, at least in the superhero genre.
This is incredibly ignorant on many levels. Girls don’t buy genre stuff? Are these people THAT out of touch?
I have experienced some of this myself. A couple examples that spring to mind are:
1) The Wonder Woman animated film did not make as much money as some other DC animated films at first. However, over time, it outgrossed many of the other DC films. Keep in mind, it was competing with animated films that had major live action movies going at the same time…Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc. It outgrossed the Green Lantern animated films. But for inexplicable reasons, that is never mentioned…all that is ever mentioned is that it didn’t hit big right out of the gate. Neither did MOST of the animated films, but for some reason, only Wonder Woman is held accountable, despite making more money over time.
2) I also experienced some of this in talks with Disney right before they purchased Marvel. They asked me to develop tv ideas for them, interestingly NOT because I was female, not for a female audience, they wanted a BOY audience, and they felt I could help deliver that with good action stories. I bring this up because it’s interesting…people who are mad there’s no Black Widow film in the planning,(understandably) are upset.
But my meeting with Disney tells an interesting picture. The executive I spoke with put it very bluntly, to his credit. He said that at one time, Disney OWNED the boys’ adventure market on television. But over time, they had more and more success with programming for girls. To the point where boys actively started avoiding the Disney brand.
You think they bought Marvel and Star Wars for purely the intellectual properties, you would only be partially correct. They bought those properties to make Disney cool for boys again. To own the boys’ adventure market like they felt they already owned the market for girls’ progra…
This idea that girls don’t buy toys is completely and totally ridiculous even now. The companies don’t even have to change anything!
I was working at Pixar when Disney bought them and brought John Lasseter in as Chief Creative Officer, and the rumor was that Disney said he could make any changes he wanted to … except to the Disney Princesses line, because selling those toys and merchandise basically paid for everything else.
Girls already buy toys! I understand there’s this “Barbie” doll that’s pretty popular. But we’re not trained to look for them in the same way and the same places boys are.
I’ve heard in several places that Young Justice was cancelled because lack of toy sales, which producers blame on the female audience, but I never saw a single toy commercial when I watched the show (there’s a reason for this*). The only reason that I knew the toys existed at all was because my husband collects toys. Once I found out about them, though I was the reason we collected every single one.
And let’s be real, the YJ toys barely even “action figures” — the toys have less articulation than a Barbie doll, so if a girl buys a Barbie doll why wouldn’t she enjoy something along the same lines with these guys? (Not that I’ve ever heard anyone go “ew I can bend his knees.”)
We just need to know they exist and that *gasp* they’re in the toy aisle that isn’t coated in pink.
*But what’s really unfortunate is that companies can’t advertise toys for a show while the show is airing - if YJ is the only show girls watch, it’s impossible for them to see toy commercials for YJ toys. What networks need is MORE shows that appeal to both boys and girls so that they can catch those eyes later and advertise, for example, YJ toys (they could have gotten us during Green Lantern, btw).
Sorry, rant over. I just owned all the Turtles and She-Ra/He-Man stuff as a kid, and I’m pretty sure girls today would join me. :(
Oh. My. Fucking. God.
Networks, do you know why girls don’t buy the toys? It’s because NO ONE MAKES THEM.
Mattel, as far as I know, still straight-up refuses to make action figures of non-movie-versions of the Avatar characters. Outside of custom sculpts and mods, you cannot find a non-movie Katara, nor Toph. I have looked. I have been looking for years.
Because it is trickier to completely omit the title character than just half the main cast, there are still no Legend of Korra action figures. None. Can you imagine how much they’re losing in revenue because of that? But they would rather completely skip the market than risk making a toy based on a female character.
Think about that. Do you know what A:TLA's viewership and subsequent readership stats were? Do you know what A:LoK's are? And they still refuse to make toys, because “female action figures don't sell.” And then they cancel shows because girls don't buy action figures that are designed, picked, and marketed to exclude them as thoroughly as possible.
Just like girls will read comics if the comics are worthwhile and well marketed, girls will buy toys if the toys are fun and engaging and linked to properties they care about. Fuck, boys will buy toys linked to those properties, too—look at My Little Pony. Look at the number of worn-out and beloved Princess Leia figures in shoeboxes in my peers’ parents’ attics.
Networks, IP owners, the reason girls don’t buy those toys is that your licensing partners are shitty at their jobs. Ditch them, not the shows. And certainly not the audience.