Friday, 26 June 2015

Open Letter to Vivid - Reacting Against Hasbro

I've had a long-held loyalty to Hasbro, due to the brands they have licences for, and I've regularly welcomed the products of theres that I want into my collections. But this is 2015 and there is still a fundamental problem with Hasbro; they still think they should only cater for boys.

Their lines I have gotten toys from in the past have included Star Wars, Transformers and the Jurassic Park films. (And if you know me; that's very much obvious.) They also produce Marvel lines too, which I have a fleeting interest in, but never actually bought from...And I most likely won't...

Hasbro has suffered from various issues to their products over the past few years including quality control (paint applications and plastic tolerances), price inflation for less amounts of toy, and the production of themes and sublines that nobody actually wants (go check out the masses of Star Wars Rebel Command and Star Wars Angry Birds products clogging up the shelves...I've NEVER seen anybody pick them up). And not to mention sub-par customer service and not taking into account what consumers actually want. And we toy collectors have been grumpily going along with the general reductions in quality of the main figure lines and the extremely pricey figures that are actually worth looking at, but off-putting for those who cannot afford them (i.e. nearly everyone).

But perhaps more worryingly, Hasbro would rather waste money on these unprofitable (and undesirable) lines than do the one thing referenced at the beginning at this post; invest in the girls. Like I say; it's 2015, we know full well that boys and girls these days do not have a problem with liking toys from whichever range it may be (even if their parents might). Gender identity across the board is nowhere near as simple as it was years ago and to kids today, it isn't a big deal. Yet Hasbro (amongst others) STILL insist on continuing to market the majority of their lines in favour of boys. There has been a systematic continuation of this across the Star Wars and Marvel ranges in particular, virtually erasing all but a few of the women characters from existence. When the Hulk himself can get angry about this development, you best believe it's a problem.

But the reason for finally writing something like this is thus; in Jurassic Park (and Jurassic World), it's practically common knowledge that the majority (if not; all) the Dinosaurs of Isla Nublar are female. It's a major plot-point in the first film and a reiterated fact in the latest. Yet somehow, Hasbro have managed to release their Dinosaur toys describing them with masculine pronouns. It's been confirmed as an error, which in this case is slightly forgivable, but the fact that the masculine pronouns are more-or-less 'default' goes to show how ingrained male-orientated Hasbro's lines are (and thus, indicative of the larger social construct). Call it the straw that broke the Dinosaur's back (NOT a spoiler, by the way), but even though it's an error, Hasbro still have a very misogynistic target. It's not that they should be attracting female fans, but they should be providing for them, because practically half of Star Wars fans, of Marvel fans, etc. are women and girls and it doesn't take a lot of research to work this out. Yet only one tiny two-inch Gamora figure was available for Guardians of the Galaxy, only one Black Widow figure (in the expensive 'Legends' line) in the entirety of her onscreen appearances since 2010 has appeared and there's been no Scarlet Witch for Avengers: Age of Ultron and so-forth. And the only Princess Leia figure in the Star Wars 'Black Series' (6-inch...Also ridiculously expensive) line was her 'slave outfit'...The metal bikini...The ONLY LEIA. This, along with many other reasons mentioned (and not mentioned), is why I hardly buy any Hasbro these days...

So I ultimately write this not for Hasbro, but for Vivid, the biggest toy company in the UK. Because as readers of this Blog know, I've really gotten into Thunderbirds Are Go, but what I mentioned little of in my recent Blog post was how much effort has been made to really develop the female characters from the original series and give them much more prominance, updating them for today. And very soon, Vivid's first wave of Thunderbirds Are Go toys will be hitting the selves. Now, understandably, they've gone the usual business route and produced the most major components for the series, the first four Thunderbird vehicles, the five brothers and the villain. Sadly, we haven't heard if they will be producing figures for regular characters Kayo, Lady Penelope or indeed their vehicles, the Thunderbird Shadow or FAB 1.
Thunderbird Shadow - Kayo's own covert ops Thunderbird

Tanusha 'Kayo' Kyrano, Head of Security at Tracy Island
London Agent Lady Penelope, her dog Sherbert & her driver, Parker
Lady Penelope's Gadget-Filled FAB 1
So this is my plea to Vivid; please do not go the Hasbro route and solely focus on the one gender; consider the female fans of the programme and consider everyone who will be wanting the very awesome Thunderbird Shadow AND the iconic FAB 1 in their vehicle collections at the very least (including myself). I know it's early days, but with thirteen episodes already, the programme has clearly made leaps and bounds for diversity (not just gender, but with ethnicity too) and I hope your products will reflect that too. Thank you.


(All images courtesy of ITV/Pukeko)

29-06-2015 UPDATE: I Tweeted this post to Vivid; they responded! ^^ Basically Expect Lady Penelope & Kayo in some form or another in the future! Thank you, Vivid!

(Just responding alone scores them more points than Hasbro! XD)

14-08-2015 UPDATE: Vivid actually responded AGAIN a few days after their Tweet-response, via their customer service thing, taking FAB1 in particular into consideration. They stated they'd pass it on to the design team! Hurray! ^^ But I update you all with this nearly two months later, because just today I've also read a news report of the sales, stating that the first waves are doing well. At the bottom, they note that Kayo, FAB1 and more vehicles are planned for next year! ^^ Basically; the first general official confirmation!

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