#HeresRey — After Years of Neglect, Star Wars Is Finally Catering to Female Fans
Female fans are used to being ignored by science fiction franchises. The lack of merchandise from recent blockbuster films has led to hashtag campaigns including: #WheresNatasha, #WheresGamora, #WheresNatasha (again), and most recently #WheresRey — a campaign targeting the fact that the two female leads of the new Star Wars film — Rey and Captain Phasma — were left out of a Target-exclusive 12″ action figure set.
That one set seemed like part of an ongoing problem. For the previous six Star Wars movies, if a girl wanted to get a Star Wars t-shirt, she had to look in the boys department. Lucasfilm had not licensed a single Star Wars product for women or girls.
Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy addressed the issue directly at the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in October.
Kathleen Kennedy: We have to make sure that we create products that are, in a sense, appealing to both boys and girls. What’s wrong with that? Even with simple things like t-shirts. There is a fantastic story with this young woman who came to Lucasfilm in 2009. She plays the character of Ahsoka in both Rebels and she also had a role in Clone Wars — and she came to Lucasfilm in 2009 saying, “Why aren’t there clothes that are tied to Star Wars for girls?”
She struggled for quite a while and then put a company together called Her Universe. And it’s doing unbelievable business. And it’s — in fact — the t-shirt that I ran down on the Comic Con floor and grabbed and put on before the Comic Con convention. It just shows that anyone who steps out and does something in quality; they find that there’s plenty of young girls and women out there who are just as interested as the boys.
But the changes went much further than Her Universe. With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens — for the first time ever — Star Wars is being marketed directly to women and girls. Action figures, clothing, hand-bags and even a make-up line have been licensed — even if they are sometimes a little hard to find.
Female action figures have been flying off the shelves, with some items such as the Captain Phasma Black Series figure already selling for premium prices on ebay. “We underestimated the demand,” said one Disney executive on condition of anonymity. “We’re rushing to get more product into retail channels. It’s a good problem to have.”
To help female fans find the merchandise that is still out there, Heroic Girls has put together this guide highlighting some of the best Star Wars merchandise made for women and girls.
We’ve broken down our guide into sections, you can jump ahead if you like to”
Toys & Action Figures
Still a favorite among both kids and adults, Funko has made a full line of Pops for Star Wars, including multiple Reys, a Captain Phasma, and quite a few Leias from the original trilogy.
Star Wars Black Series
The “Black Series” is Hasbro’s name for their line of ultra-detailed collectible action figures. Rey has her own figure that comes with lovable droid BB-8, but the early sought-after prize is the hard-to-find Captain Phasma figure.
Action Figures & Playsets
The most encouraging development is the prevalence of toys developed for children. There are Rey and Phasma action figures, and playsets fully integrated into the consumer line right along side the boys. While there are tons of female figures and sets, our favorite might be the Rey’s Speeder Bike set, which comes with a bonus Rey action figure, dressed to survive the harsh desert landscape of Jakku.
LEGO has always done an above-average job of prioritizing diversity, and they continue that tradition with their Star Wars sets. Our favorite — again — is Rey’s Speeder Bike, which comes with dual stud shooters, opening storage hatch and side-mounted bag, blaster, buzzsaw, electrobinoculars and an “Unkar’s Thug” minifig, that we will go out on a limb and say is a bad guy .
Build-A-Bear has a full line of The Force Awakens characters — no Captain Phasma, but they have this awesome Rey.
Disney Infinity 3.0, the latest iteration of the popular toys-to-life franchise, is all about Star Wars. The default set comes with Anikan Skywalker and Jedi-in-training Ahsoka Tano, giving kids a choice of gender, right out of the box. The Force Awakens playset is similarly gender-balanced, coming with both Finn and Rey. There are also sets featuring Leia, and the women from Star Wars Rebels.
While there are several to choose from, our favorite Star Wars plush to date has to be the “Itty Bitty Rey” from Hallmark. We won’t justify this decision. Just look at it.
The days of raiding the boys department are finally over. Disney licensed apparel for women and girls to a ton of retailers, including Target, Macy’s, Kohls, Amazon and Her Universe. Here are a few of our favorite items.
If there is one person to thank for the fact that Disney is now Star Wars making merchandise for women, it is Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. Ashley pushed Disney to give her a license to make Star Wars merchandise for women and girls — and when they said, “no,” she went out, recruited experts in fashion and apparel — and came back and asked again, and again, until the answer was, “yes.”
Her Universe proved once and for all that there was a market for quality geek merchandise and apparel for women. Ashley is the woman that made executives wake up and realize that women love comics, science fiction and fantasy just like the guys, and Her Universe remains the gold standard for female-friendly Star Wars apparel on the web.
While Macy‘s doesn’t have much Star Wars clothing for girls, they have an incredible selection for juniors and women, with t-shirts, dresses and jogger pants.
Target provides a wide assortment of entry-level Star Wars fashions for both women and girls. We buy a lot of stuff for the girls here because we want it to look good, but we don’t want to spend a ton of money on clothes they will outgrow in six months.
Kohl’s — the second largest department store in the United States — has some truly stunning Star Wars apparel that elevates your fandom above simple cotton tees.
Amazon partnered with Disney to license a fairly extensive line of Star Wars apparel and accessories that they carry right along side apparel made by other manufacturers. While many stores carry merch for women, online is still one of the best places to find apparel for girls. If you’re having trouble finding clothing that let’s your little girl’s geek flag fly, Amazon is a great place to look.
JCPenney has some cool designs that you can’t find anywhere else — including skirts, leggings and overprint tees.
Jewelry & Accessories
Hip bag and apparel maker Loungefly has bee cranking out some really attractive Star Wars handbags, wallets, cosmetics bags and more. And they are quality products. The wallets are made from leather. The totes are lined, with zippered products. If you want to display your geek pride over your shoulder, but all the bags you could found were made from cheap vinyl and plastic — your days of waiting are over.
While there are inexpensive costume pieces at almost every retailer, Kay Jewelers has rolled out an entire line of exquisite gold and silver Star Wars jewelry. There has never been a better time to get a Darth Vader pendant made out of black diamonds.
Covergirl released a line of Star Wars themed cosmetics with six “looks” including “Droid,” “Mystic,” and “Chrome Captain.” Smartly, they also recruited Janelle Monae as their “Resistance Pilot,” and we pretty much buy whatever the Eletric Lady is selling.