February 24, 2014

Representation of Leia, Padmé, and Ahsoka in Star Wars Action Figures

Last week around this time, Toy Fair brought us news about the new figures for the upcoming animated series, Star Wars Rebels. That was exciting but not as cool as it could have been because Hasbro only offered action figures of the males in the cast. Even though Sabine and Hera were featured on packaging and Hera is one of the groups' leaders, Hasbro's first wave of toys doesn't include the heroines. Lame and unfair are a couple of words that come to mind.

Disney made it worse with this press release title: "Disney Consumer Products Ready to Capture Boys’ Imaginations and Dominate Toy Aisles in 2014." That title gave me rage face. Gender inequality in toy marketing is a rant for another time, but that headline is relevant to the rest of the post.

Hasbro did confirm to Newsarama that they are making 3.75 inch Hera and Sabine figures and that they'll be revealed at San Diego Comic-Con. I'm pleased to hear that, but I'm incredibly disappointed that they seem to be an afterthought. Dunc over at Club Jade expresses some important points on that subject. The feeling is familiar. I got incredibly frustrated trying to find different figures of Ahsoka in the toy aisles; they felt scarce and she was one of the main characters of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Yet, I had no trouble finding Anakin and Obi-Wan figures.

With those feelings, I sat down with Stephen Sansweet's Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection book and counted. I wanted to see how many action figures there were of Princess Leia as opposed to Luke and Han, same with Padmé and Ahsoka. The informative book logs all the Star Wars action figures produced prior to 2012. The figures are from all the films, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Genndy Gartakovsky's Clone Wars cartoons, and the Expanded Universe.

The results:

Data source: Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection by Stephen Sansweet

I have to say, where Princess Leia is concerned, I'm surprised. She had more variations than I would have thought, and I was happy to see only three of the 45 figures featured the metal bikini.

Padmé had an okay ration too, but given that she had even more looks than Leia and that merchandise - including toys - was amped up for the prequels, I'm surprised there aren't more. One of the most annoying features about the Padmé figures is that one was titled "Mother of Heroes." Eh. Mixed feelings about that name. Just two of Padmé's 26 figures had a bared midriff.

Finally, the number of Ahsoka figures is a bummer. She was arguably the most important character of The Clone Wars series and she only got half as many figures as Anakin and Obi-Wan (I only counted their Star Wars: The Clone Wars figures)? Refer back to the lame statement above.

While I hope the numbers of female character action figures increase with Star Wars Rebels and the sequels and spin-offs, this first showing doesn't leave me feeling optimistic. Instead, I feel unwelcome and excluded. Not that I don't like seeing Kanan, Chopper, and Ezra figures - I will gladly buy those too - but let's equal the playing field, eh? I hope Hasbro works with Disney and Lucasfilm to do so.


  1. Hi Amy. Just want to thank you so much for this post. My kids and I looked at these graphs in the most recent episode of our podcast, Children of the Force #1 - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/children-of-the-force/id966950375 (our discussion about gender imbalance in toys starts about 18.5 minutes in). I really hope you give it a listen. I think you'll get a kick out of their reactions.

    1. The "what the heck?" reaction is my favorite. I really like hearing about this from the perspective of kids - thank you so much for sharing this!


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