With any children’s movie made these days, it is a sure bet that the products meant to bring ancillary revenue will immediately follow. And so it is with Pixar’s “Brave”. I loved the movie, and have been anticipating the roll out of the merchandise. You may have already read my comparison of Mattel’s sexualized Merida doll to the toys offered at the Disney store, which is where we will be shopping for the very first time this weekend.
“Brave” is actually not the first movie we have seen as a family that has rubbed off on my kids. Other movies that my six year old daughter has loved:
1. “Nim’s Island” — she carried a blue rubber iguana around for months
2. “Land Before Time” — she was obsessed with dinosaurs and volcanoes for two years
3. “Free Willy 4” — an exhaustive internet search found a Bindi Irwin scientsit surfer girl from the Sydney Zoo
4. “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” — fueled Amelia’s passion for mismatched socks and disgusting names for sandwiches
My daughter saw “Brave” on opening night, and we are going again as a family + grandparents this weekend. Both my six year old girl and four year old boy are in love with Merida’s character, and because I have advocated and waited so long for a heroine like this, I’m going to eat some crow and let them pick a toy from the Disney store. I’m thinking we’ll pick up some of the little action figure toys, as I’ve been saving cardboard boxes and plan to spray paint them in order to turn them into a castle and bear’s lair. I always like to be an educated consumer, so I took a look on the Disney store website so I will know what to expect when we get to the store.
First, I noticed that with the box office success of the film the options for merchandise have quadrupled. I think Disney was holding back to see whether or not the film flopped. Second, I still really like the dolls and plush toys from Disney over what Mattel created for the big box shops. I am really pleased that Disney left Merida looking natural and just like a sixteen year old girl should look. Third, I immediately noticed some disconnect with the princess I saw in the film, and the princess Disney is marketing to my kids. Mostly, I cannot find a bow and arrow set, but do have the choice of a bedazzled magic wand.
Disney, you almost got it.
The princess dresses are your standard Disney fare that I was expecting. There is a lot that could have been done with the dress up collection that wasn’t. Shame.
I cannot recall Merida wearing feather bejeweled kitten heels in the movie. I imagine those would have made her action scenes a tish more dicey. Also, those heels make me think of the Playboy Mansion so we’ll be leaving those at the store. The description for these is ridiculous, as golden jewels do not a heroine make.
Next is the golden gladiator sandals which, again, Merida never wore. That’s the thing about 10th century Scots, they weren’t big on the bling. But Disney sure thinks it is in the genetic code of 21st century girls! Squee!
Now, I’m wearing gladiator sandals today (magenta pink, to boot) and I suppose I could run and play in them. I’m not sure I could fight a bear in them, but then again I’m also not willing to try. I do like the description for these better than the heels, as at least this focuses on what a girl is doing, rather than how she looks. I would like Disney to have the foresight to create deep green soft-soled ballet flats just like Merida’s from the movie, adorned with a Celtic knot….something to run and climb and jump and play in, just like Merida.
I’ve saved the best for last. I paid very, very close attention the movie. I recall Merida climbing a waterfall, commanding her giant horse, wielding a sword, and showing time and again that she is an expert archer. My daughter really loved the archery theme to the movie, so I was looking for a bow and arrow set she could play with outside while she defended our tree fort. Would you believe Disney doesn’t carry one? Amazon does, so I’m hoping Disney just sold out of theirs. Because I missed the part when Merida was holding this:
I still plan to let my kids pick out some little figures from the Disney Store that they can use in the castle we build, but I won’t be getting them any of the dress up clothes. I need my little Scottish adventurers to be running with wild abandon through my backyard (using pool noodles for bows I suppose). And because I’m writing a book on the gendered marketing towards girls, I won’t have the time to fix busted children’s high heels or torn jeweled sparkle dresses.
So while “Brave” sits at #1 across America this week and is earning an A rating from audiences everywhere, one could assume Americans were ready for a self-rescuing, doesn’t-need-a-prince, adventuring not-focusedon-my-looks princess. I guess Disney wasn’t.
Update: I love to make things and craft with my kids, so I knew if I spent enough time on Pinterest I’d a way to make our own bow and arrow so that the kids can pretend to be having adventures right along side Merida. It took me all of 15 seconds to find this project, which we’ll be doing this weekend! I think I’m going to have the kids include the colors from our family’s tartan and draw our own Celtic knots to adorn the bow. Find the project HERE.