It was only a matter of time. After all, Barbie’s been a super model, an astronaut, and even President of the United States. So why not a superhero too? It makes sense, especially in our current superhero-obsessed culture. Mattel announced at the Nuremberg Toy Fair this week that they will be launching Princess Power Barbie, also known as “Super Sparkle”, who saves the day in a hot pink cape, with her equally superpowered pet dog and kitty cat. Apparently Super Barbie’s real name is Kara, which makes me wonder if Mattel was just looking to rip off everything about the Silver Age Supergirl, but with a little bit more glitter.
Barbie has been an American institution with young girls for over 55 years, but in the past year, sales for Barbie dolls have slipped by 21%. Mattel is looking to change their fortunes with this new superhero version of the beloved icon. The venerable toymaker is definitely taking a cue from the past in coming up with this new version of Barbie; after all, they launched She-Ra: Princess of Power some thirty years ago, another superhero of sorts who was marketed towards girls. (Lucky for them, they already own the trademark on “Princess of Power”.)
According to Mattel’s Lori Pantel, “The world of superheroes has historically been tailored to boys where ‘the good guys beat the bad guys’. But we know that girls, too, enjoy empowered heroes but seek an outcome where the perceived bad characters transform to good and friendship is the lasting result. We thought it was time they were inspired by a new superhero that is playful, has extraordinary abilities and also uses her powers of forgiveness and friendship to defeat her foe – in a way that only Barbie can.”
So Barbie doesn’t defeat the bad guys, but reforms them? Actually, that was the original idea behind Wonder Woman when she was created way back when. She sent her villains to “reformation island” where they were rehabilitated and sent back into the world as productive citizens. So before anyone cries sexism, remember that the OG female superhero did it first. It’s actually a positive message to which I wish more male superheroes subscribed. Although, that being said, I do hope our new Super Barbie gets to kick a little butt now and then.
[HT: Bleeding Cool]