Sexism in the comic book/superhero industry has been around pretty much since it’s inception, but every now and then someone goes out of their way to kindly remind us that it isn’t getting any better anytime soon. Last week, Todd McFarlane, comic book creator turned action figure entrepreneur, proceeded to open his mouth and insert his own foot during an online interview with YouTuber Shartimus Prime (which took place during Women’s History Month).
Upon discussing female action figures, McFarlane, who’s own McFarlane Toys is the primary manufacturer of DC superhero action figures, argued that he would never be able to sell an all-female wave of action figures in a “boys figure aisle” at retail stores. He then launched into a tirade about a young boy who received a female action figure and being so disappointed that the letdown of receiving a female action figure could result in someone becoming a serial killer. No joke. And the rest of the interview is just as nauseating. I’m not going to give him the support of posting the interview here, but you can view it in it’s entirety on Shartimus Prime’s channel.
I grew up always longing for more female action figures of the iconic characters I looked up to. If we were lucky, there would be one female action figure made with a limited quantity for every wave of figures released that same year. In fact, even now whenever I see more than one of a female action figure on the shelf, I buy a couple just to give to friends just because they are so rare. Some companies have definitely made some progress when it comes to recognizing that there is indeed a huge audience for female action figures, especially with the increased amount of interest women have shown in the superhero genre during the past decade or so. Marvel Legends and the recently released Master of the Universe: Revelation line have released multiple female figures in recent waves, with Marvel Legends capping off at three during their What If…? wave last year.
Even so, the statistics on how many female action figures are made in comparison to their male counterparts is, unsurprisingly, staggering. Shout out to Jeremy Konrad over at BleedingCool.com for pulling these numbers together.
Marvel Legends releases in 2021: 147
Number of female figures released: 34
Percentage of the line: 23%
Star Wars Black Series releases in 2021: 75
Number of female figures: 9
Percentage of the line: 12%
Masters of the Universe figures released in 2021: 25
Number of female figures: 5
Percentage of the line: 20%
WWE figures released in 2021: 246
Number of female figures: 38
Percentage of the line: 15%
Comparable to McFarlane Toys:
DC Multiverse figures released in 2021: 91
Number of female figures: 9 (6 were variations of Wonder Woman and 2 Harley Quinns)
Percentage of the line: 10%
DC Multiverse figures released and revealed so far: 195
Number of female figures: 19
Percentage of the line: 10%
So, blatant sexism and misogyny aside, perhaps the problem doesn’t lie with people being not interested buying female action figures, but rather that there aren’t enough female action figures being made for people to buy?