Disney Almost Gets Brave

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.

Brave slippers for girls from Disney. Indeed.

Great moogly boogly.











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!

A step up from the bedroom kitten heels.

This description does encourage some adventurous play. I wonder if the constricting sandals would allow it?










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:

What. In. The. World.

Wouldn't shimmering jewels and flashing lights attract bears? Me thinks yes.











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.


Make your own bow for a little Highland Games action in the backyard!


  1. I wasn’t too pleased with the Brave line up of toys myself or their T-shirts. When we were in Disney World and my daughter did the Meet and Greet with Merida we stopped at the cart selling Brave stuff afterwards. We did indeed find a non pink/purple bow and arrow set and only paid 20 for it. I just did a quick internet search and people must be buying them in the parks to resell because they are selling for 50 and over on Ebay and Amazon. Besides a pin to go with my daughters collection the bow was all we bought, she wanted a shirt but they were all purple and pink two colors she will never wear.

  2. Uh. Yeah. I saw the wand while looking for Merida’s bow to.


    Although, when we were at the disney store one week before the film opened, they had no wands out. There were 2 dresses for costumes, the plushie doll and the baby-Merida doll, and some fun thermal-tumblers,

    Note also that the Mattel Merida-barbie is wearing the dress that she HATED in the movie, and subsiquently tore while shooting bull’s eyes on all the targets.

  3. What’s even worse is that the website shows a little girl wearing the “Games Merida Costume” and she’s HOLDING a bow and arrow! Of course, you can buy the weapons, the sword, mace and axe – but no bow and arrow. Another “miss” for Disney!

    As for “the products meant to bring ancillary revenue” – I think it’s the other way around. As my brother said to my niece as we were walking through Target around the time Tangled came out, “Disney made a new movie so that they can sell you more dolls.”

  4. It’s so strange to me that there’s finally an inspiring female heroine for kids (girls AND boys) to look up to and despite her popularity,some toy companies still feel the need to change her! What are they so afraid of? Do they think that even though the movie is already more successful than anyone had imagined it would be, little girls just aren’t ready for an “out of the box” Princess?? They ARE ready. MORE than ready. What will it take for some people to understand that little girls want more than glitter and cuteness and DESERVE more as well!

  5. I went into the Disney store before the movie came out, and I was disappointed to see that the “Brave” merchandise was basically the same old stuff. I was hoping to see some better options. I certainly expected to at least find a bow and arrow set. Seemed so obvious, so simple…

  6. I was able to find a bow and arrow set at Target of all places for those who may be looking 🙂 I can’t vouch for the quality, because I went to a sporting goods store to pick up the real deal! Disney’s selections were a little disheartening, especially the heels. Ugh! Even my 4 year old disapproved! Maybe they should look at marketing things like rock walls!!

  7. The good news in all this? I don’t think there’s a prince to save her, even in the Disney store!

  8. We were in Target and saw some of the jewelry options. All Cady kept saying was, “but she doesn’t wear a crown.” Kids notice.

  9. Hi! I’m surprised they don’t have the bow and arrow set any longer – I bought one for my son and daughter about a month ago. It looks just like Merida’s in the movie and comes with four suction-cup bows. They were a hot seller and they sold out pretty quickly back when they first came out, and when I bought the set they had just been replenished. So perhaps they’ll get another shipment? Other than the fact that the arrows could stand to be a little less flimsy (we’re already down two) we’ve been really happy with the toy. 🙂

  10. Christi says:

    We picked up the bow and arrow at Toys R US recently. I know it isn’t at the Disney store, but it is out there! My daughter is in LOVE with it. She also has to crown and earring set, but she pretends to be queen Elenor when she wears it. She also likes the wisp earrings to pretend with her doll that the wisps are showing her the way. We are going to see the movie again next week! My daughter is in LOVE with it and Merida!

  11. Penny W says:

    They do have the bow and arrow at some Disney stores. See this blog post for pictures of her adorable girls with the bow: http://www.couponsaregreat.net/2012/06/22/my-review-of-disneypixars-movie-brave/

  12. nichole trexler says:

    The sandals are cute but my daughter would Kill for a bow and arrow!!!

  13. Great post. There is such a disconnect between the products associated with the movie and the film itself. I noticed the Gem Styling Merida Doll on the Toys R Us Canada website. It is no longer there, but is available through amazon. Can anyone who saw the movie imagine Merida wearing a reversible cape that “sparkles” on the inside or wanting to have her hair decorated with gems? http://www.amazon.com/Disney-Pixar-Brave-Styling-Merida/dp/B006OG75MU

  14. Sue Carney says:

    There are two bow and arrow sets from Brave available on both ebay and Amazon. One comes with two arrows and is in the $10-%15 range and the other have a quiver and four arrows, and is around $50-$60. They seem to be Disney branded so not sure why they weren’t on the Disney site. But they seem to be available all over the internet.
    Funny, took my daughter and a friend to see it today. She didn’t pick up for about fifteen minutes that her name was Merida. She thought her name was “Brave.” Love that.

  15. Melissa,
    You can find authentic, non-bling’d Scottish moccasins here:

    Pretty sure they are made in kids sizes.

  16. I’m in the uk And brave hasn’t been released yet, though I downloaded to ebook as I really want my 5year old to see it in the summer. She’s pretty sensitive to movies (even finding nemo had her in floods) so I’d like her to get to know the story first. Anyhoo, my sister bought 5yearold a selection of those awful shoes for her birthday and I let her keep them because she said she liked them, and she can decide for herself right? Inspired by this blog I had a chat with her tonight and talked about whether she could play the games she likes to play of she’s wearing them and she asked me to pass them on to someone else! I’m pretty sure I didn’t influence her, I just asked her if she wanted to keep them.

    They are complete and utter shite. And dangerous! So glad to have them our of my life!

  17. not to mention kids will break their ankles wearing plastic high heels! they’re treacherous! who buys such a thing for small children??!!

  18. I’m in the UK and they definitely have the bow and arrow sets here: my daughter wants one *and* the dress “with a cloak for going adventuring in” (which seems to be the only difference between this and the normal princess dresses).

    We’ve told her we’ll see the film when it comes out and then perhaps we’ll buy the bow.

  19. I love your shoe idea though, plastic heels are such dangerous toys (loose, one-size fits all or none, breakable, potential to throw the kid off balance etc…) some flexible adventuring shoes would be great.

  20. They actually did make a bow and arrow set, but all Disney stores sold out pretty much immediately, and for months and months following would sell out right after restocking. Even the Disney parks sold out, and hastened to put generic-brand Frontierland bows near the Merida costume displays.

    Toys R Us stocked a bad-looking bow and arrow set that was bright purple, but the Disney store version looks just like Merida’s, and can actually shoot.

  21. siobhan says:

    just for a note – 3rivers archery’s website sells a kids’ archery set for about $20 that my daughter LOVES. and yes, it’s a REAL bow, with 3 arrows, a little quiver, a target, and a finger tab.


  1. […] the summer galloping on imaginary horses and shooting arrows from our pool noodle bows. There were early indications that Disney couldn’t help itself, and because the Princess brand is so narrow, Merida would […]

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