3 Things for February – Toys!

Toyyyys. I’m too old for toys, or so I’m told. But if you call it collecting instead of playing it’s suddenly acceptable, right? 😀

1. Star Wars!
I loved The Force Awakens. (Don’t worry, I know a bunch of people who haven’t seen it yet so I’ll steer clear of spoilers.)

When Guardians of the Galaxy came out, I saw a lot of people comparing it to the original Star Wars. Both sci-fi/space fantasy films that are just fun movies that make you feel good about watching them. Great characters and dialogue, good music, exciting visuals. And that comparison is especially interesting to me now because The Force Awakens felt a lot like Guardians to me. The plot was…iffy. I feel like once you remove the plot holes you’re left with the tiiiiiniest thread of story, but if you ignore that the characters and the relationships between them are just amazing to watch.

This is one that I kept wanting to talk about weeks after I saw it, finally almost got over it but then went to see it again to celebrate a family member’s birthday and so now I’m still thinking about it. There are so many questions to consider and possible depths to explore. The light plot doesn’t bother me much because I feel like introducing us to these characters and letting us speculate was way more important. (And I’m sure I’ll find fan theories that I like way better than whatever turns out to be the official story, but that’s okay. Comes with the territory.)

Between my love of the movie and my love of toys, of course I wanted to see what was available. That ridiculous display had been up for so long with no clue as to who any of the characters were and therefore little draw towards any of the characters. All I knew was that Kylo Ren has an utterly ridiculous sword and will probably cut his own hand off at some point in the series. Now I knew the characters! Now I have this whole headcanon of…some spoilery stuff that invovles Rey, Finn, and Poe, clearly my new favorite team of heroes! Time to go check out their Funko Pop toys! …What’s that? We don’t have any Rey toys? Or Poe toys? WHYYYYYY.

There was a biiiig fuss about the lack of Rey figures. Chances are you’ve already seen it, and also possibly seen that some action figures of her have finally been released. My store had one in stock and it was gone within 2 days. None restocked yet. *sigh* Apparently, toy companies are so convinced that being a girl is horrible and that no one would ever want to play with girl toys that we can’t expect to find them even when she’s literally the main character. I mean, it’s an ensemble cast and they’re all awesome, but a lot of it (and the other characters) revolved around her.

I’m actually more distressed by the huge availability of Finn toys, though. :-/ I hope it’s just my store and that he’s selling out everywhere else, but at my store the Funko toys are down to C-3PO, Snowtroopers (what even), and Finn. Almost the same thing for the action figures just released, Finn and some nameless or unknown characters. I did some digging to find out if that was widespread and/or why that might be. (I don’t want to automatically assume racism, though I worry it might be and also that the merchandisers will make that assumption and block his toys too for future movies.) There were a few troubling comments about race, but I didn’t actually find many.

Actually, I wasn’t able to find much suggesting his toys aren’t selling, so maybe it is just certain places. It’s not like my store is anyone’s first stop for toys anyway. (Unless you happen to work there and it’s just easiest…) I hope that’s the case. But someone claimed that he was cowardly comic relief and people were disappointed. I had heard that before in some reviews but forgot. Argh. I loved him in the movie. He was kind of funny in parts, occasionally afraid, but cowardly? Like, the way we’re introduced to him he’s doing this incredibly risky thing for himself and saving someone else in the process. He’s totally there for Rey later in the movie even when it’s against his best interests. It’s not cowardly to have fears and face them.

Anyway. This has been not so much about specific toys, but about people’s reactions to and expectations about toys. Who collects them and why, what people want, etc. And my extreme disappointment in people not properly appreciating Finn. He’s cool, people. Watch the movie again and buy his toys. BUY ALL THE TOYS.

For reals, this movie almost made me pick up Disney Infinity. Almost.

2. Barbie’s New Bodies
Okay, I feel like I need to clarify something here before I start. Just in case someone who reads this doesn’t know. “Barbie” in this context refers to two related but separate…things? Ideas? Whatever. Barbie is both the brand and the name of its primary character. So if you saw the news recently that Barbie (the brand) is introducing new body types including a “curvy” one, they are not saying that Barbie (the character) is chubby now. Rather, they’re adding more variety to the secondary characters (if you can call them that…models might be a better term) they offer. In one particular line. (Though I hope it will spread to others if it’s successful…and obviously I hope it’s successful.)

Another thing people should understand is that Barbie (the brand) has not been doing well lately. So this is not caving to political correctness or feeling shame about their product or whatever other nonsense people are complaining has happened here, this is a sales tactic. Other brands (Monster High!) offer more variety and it seems to be working. Strangely, people don’t want to buy a dozen of the same exact doll. Weird. Or hey, maybe that’s not it. Maybe it’s the big toothy Stepford smile or the simple clothing or any other features that are also being shifted a bit with this new line, or maybe people are just done with Barbie, or maybe there’s some other factor everyone’s missing. The fact is, they had to try something, and this is the something they tried.

Whew. Now that we’re past all that, I can say that this news makes me SO HAPPY. And no, not because we “need” dolls of all body types or because Barbie made me feel bad about my body. Mostly I’m happy because I love toys and I loved Barbie as a kid but as an adult I haven’t seen any that actually interest me. My childhood toys seem so bland in comparison to all the options kids today have. This new line is so different! There are at least 3 that I know are going high up on the wishlist once they’re available and lots more that I’m kind of watching and wanting if I suddenly have lots and lots of money. Suddenly I feel like Barbie can actually offer something new and interesting to my collection, that they compare favorably to Monster High and even Ever After High (which is really so boring after MH but has still been way more unique than Barbie) and deserve to go on the same shelf. Amazing.

You can see them all at the Barbie website. Personal favorites: 1 – Tall (Everyone seems to want her, though. Not optimistic about my odds of finding her in-store, and I bet the price will skyrocket online. Birthday ideas? :D), 2 – Curvy (Soooooo pretty with the hair and the dress and the everything.), and 3 – Tall (Another very pretty one and I love her hair but also ARE YOU SEEING THESE CLOTHES? This is actually the only Barbie doll I think I’ve ever seen where I think the clothes would look good IRL. And the doll looks amazing in them. Very well designed all around.) Honorable mentions: A – Curvy (That green skirt outfit is super weird but the blue is great. I also love the pink streaks in her hair.) and B – Petite (I think this one reminds me of an actress but I can’t figure out who. At any rate, the doll’s adorable.)

I love how affordable this line is, too. They look like really high quality dolls for the price. Maybe even better than MH? I know I put MH on quite a pedestal and I wouldn’t have thought Barbie of all things would knock them down, but these designs are impressive. I hope they continue with this and keep coming out with more amazing dolls.

3. Semi-Cooperative Pente
Not a new game! My in-laws gave us this awhile back but we hadn’t played it until last night. Actually it was in with a bunch of stuff we haven’t bothered to unpack yet so it was kind of forgotten until a friend we were visiting brought it out from his collection. It turned out to be a lot of fun and I ran to grab it as soon as we got back home.

It’s a strategy game kind of like Go or Reversi. It was definitely the most fun when we were all still figuring it out and no one was really good at it yet, we were all learning together. When we tried playing at home and I was kind of tired, it was awful. I’m very not good at strategy games. I don’t like to win, and I hate to lose when I’m actually trying. (When I play other games, like Magic: the Gathering, I barely pay attention and am just there for friends – I don’t think about strategy and instead build my decks around a story or character I like, so I fully expect to lose. The fun is in the associations I make between the cards and a character or even historical figure totally unrelated to the game. I have a Catherine de Medici deck and have made several Doctor Who decks, for example.) But games like this, I have a lot of fun and feel my mind working a bit harder, which I love. So when I miss something and all my plans are ruined, it’s devastating.

We found a way around that – we started playing together instead of against each other. Kind of. Like obviously someone is still going to win, but we started to talk through our moves, question each other’s choices and point out pitfalls before the other person decides. Planning our best moves together. It becomes about two people helping each other find their best paths forward even though it means with each step you’re sort of undoing your own work and helping someone get ahead of you. So when one wins and one loses, it doesn’t feel like one has been defeated, but that together we learned more about the game and helped someone play a very effective game. I like it. Must try this now with other competitive games.

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