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Mattel Finally Designed a Decent Girl Action Figure

Female superheroes have been around nearly as long as the first superhero: Superman, himself. But they haven't been embraced by girls over the last 70 or so years as companies would have hoped. However, a new line of female superhero dolls, set to be released next month, could turn all of that around. One reason they're showing promise? They were designed by women.

Bloomberg Business got a sneak peek of a Wonder Woman shield at the Mattel headquarters in Los Angeles, where designer Christine Kim demonstrated the toy. It and the superheroine it's meant for are a far cry from the highly sexualized, buxom, beauty-above-all-else we are used to seeing from female action characters.

The DC Superhero Girls line will be unveiled this week at New York Comic Con.

This new generation of figures are the first test of new leadership at Mattel, which joined forces with Warner Bros.' DC Comics to create the new line. DC provided Mattel with the characters from its comic books. Mattel, makers of Barbie, wrote stories around the characters as teens in high school—the same formula it used for its once popular Monster High dolls.

The company also put the ideas and dolls' development through a lot of research and focus groups, enlisting young girls to tell them what they really wanted from a superhero. They found some gendered differences of opinion, Bloomberg's Matthew Townsend reported, like boys wanting villains to be killed off while girls were hoping more for rehab. Girls also wanted superpowers such as talking to animals, hearing whispers and forcing people to tell the truth.

The line that came out of all the research was recently unveiled to a group of toy critics, child development experts, feminists and one mom who has railed against Mattel for years.

The young critics also didn't want the action figures and characters to be too girly, which was a problem with the first round of dolls. They also approach world domination rather practically, pointing out the scarf of Poison Ivy, one character in development, would get in the way during a fight. They also complained (let's hear it new generation of feminist moms!) that Wonder Woman was too skinny and not athletic enough.

The line that came out of all the research was recently unveiled to a group of toy critics, child development experts, feminists and one mom who has railed against Mattel for years.

The group included Melissa Atkins Wardy, an author and mother of two who has gone up against Mattel on her Redefining Girly blog. Wardy told Bloomberg that she didn't have high hopes. Then they brought out the dolls and toys.

"It's everything we've been advocating for," she told Townsend, "right down to the muscle tone in the dolls."

The DC SuperHero Girls line will be unveiled this week at New York Comic Con. The entire line of 12-inch dolls, 6-inch action figures plus their gadgets will be released this spring.

We expect that boys will like them, too.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mattel

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