Select Walmart stores are giving kids the opportunity to put their faces onto superhero toys. The selections? Captain America and Iron Man. Sorry, girls.
I love technology. And the area of 3-D printing allows us to do really awesome things that sound super science fiction-y, like scan your face and put it onto a real toy. Walmart, 3DPlusMe, Hasbro and Marvel have teamed up to do just that — kids can become their favorite superheroes from Sept. 19-28. But wait… There’s a catch. You can only choose from Captain America or Iron Man. In other words, you can’t pick a girl.
“Our mobile personalization platform for 3-D printing is the first of its kind,” says Cydni Tetro, CEO of 3DPlusMe in the press release. “Helping consumers become popular characters is not only a compelling event for fans, but a powerful retail opportunity.” It sounds awesome, doesn’t it? You can have your child’s face scanned (or your own — who wouldn’t love to be Tony Stark or Steve Rogers?), and it will be plastered onto an actual action figure.
Geeks everywhere, celebrate. At least in the limited markets it’s available — and for those who really don’t care that it’s male superheroes only.
Females are wildly underrepresented in popular culture, and that extends to geeky merchandising as well. Black Widow and Gamora are two recent high-profile comic book heroes, but finding them on a shirt, backpack or toy isn’t easy. It sucks that the opportunity to market strong female characters is overlooked by so many.
Yes, girls can and do dress up as Iron Man and Captain America. But offering only those options sounds like becoming a superhero is only for boys, which sounds awfully familiar. Encouraging girls to envision themselves as badass comic book characters should be a top priority. Instead, this endeavor, which is a really amazing idea, falls flat, because it contributes to the impression that only boys can be super.