Wonder Woman review: A superior superhero movie

Took our 5yo daughter to see Wonder Woman yesterday. I was probably going to wait a while, but then we kept seeing this poster, and she was obviously taken with it. So was I.

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Continue reading Wonder Woman review: A superior superhero movie

IAmElemental – female action figures for girls (and boys)

Beginning as a Kickstarter that kickstarted the market for empowering female action figures aimed at girls, ‘IAmElemental’ toys finally hit the UK – and we finally got our hands on a set to see what all the fuss was about.

Ok, a brief history of IAmElemental: The brainchild of Julie Kerwin and Dawn Nadeau, the concept was born in 2012, which is also the year I became the father of a daughter. Like me, they were painfully aware that the market for superhero toys was pitched squarely at teenage boys and men – so the few female superhero action figures available were usually highly sexualised, with big boobs and skinny waists.

But unlike me, Julie & Dawn did something about it and IAmElemental was launched as a Kickstarter in 2014, becoming fully funded in just 2 days.

The IAmElemental line offered a clear point of difference. The anatomically correct female action figures were athletic, not sexual. They stressed courage, power, and wisdom over attractiveness. And they also discarded a convention of the action figure market, deeming that consumers (boys) liked very strict and detailed narratives.

IAmElemental offered no such world building, with each figure possessing power related to their character, and leaving much of the rest open for the child’s imagination.

I have always admired these figures from afar, but now the latest series, the Wisdom Warriors, are available in the UK I’m really happy to be finally able to see them in reality.

IAmElemental Series 2 – the Wisdom Warriors

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The Wisdom Warriors, female action figures named after the building blocks of wisdom: (L to R) Creativity, Ingenuity, Curiosity, Logic, Exploration, Mastery, and Oblivion.

The toys come wonderfully presented, in a special ‘lunchbox’ tin, that contains all 7 female action figures plus stands & shield accessories, a fact card for each, as well as a bracelet (for the shields) and a special wisdom workbook full of facts and activities.

It makes for a really attractive package that should impress any child on opening (and adults too – I was suitably wowed as well).

While it’s all well and good to have noble intentions for a toy, the final product needs to live up to the promise. Basically, it needs to be a good toy that children want to play with.

Well, it really does live up to the promise.

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These female superhero action figures are awesome. Well made, with 9 points of articulation (POA), they have stylish designs & sculpts with bold colours and imaginative outfits. They look magnificent, and it’s so great to see how well these designs work in reality.

My daughter was keen to find out the name and brief story behind each character, and was then off inventing scenarios and adventures. The figures articulation is great, as are the interchangeable accessories (wings, shields, etc.). The stands are great too – while the figures can stand on their own, it means imaginative playtime isn’t unnecessarily wasted on trying to get the figures to stand in the right positions.

For more about what’s in the box, check out our unboxing video:

IAmElemental – Do we still need female action figures for girls?

The mainstream female action figure market has improved since these toys came on the scene a couple of years ago, but only a little.

As far as I am concerned, there is still nothing like these around. This is an empowering action figure line aimed at girls (but not at the exclusion of boys) which encourages children to use their imagination. The women also exude strength, stature, and confidence.

I have no qualms about describing these as action figures for girls, as that is who they are targeted at. But that should in no way dissuade anyone from buying these for boys too. In many ways, it is just as important for boys to play with these too – creating stories involving strong powerful looking women.

These Wisdom Warriors are a great addition to our daughter’s toy box, and her adventures with them are just beginning.

If you like the look of these I Am Elemental Wisdom Warriors female superhero action figures, we’re really lucky to have a set giveaway – so please enter this competition below for your chance to win (UK residents only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This I Am Elemental Wisdom Warriors Set has an RRP of £69.99. 

This set of female superhero action figures is also available directly from IAmElemental. Enter the code ‘UKFREESHIP’ for free shipping to the UK. We were sent the product for the purposes of this review.

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Who is your favourite Wisdom Warrior and why? Please comment below.

TV REVIEW: Does Supergirl Fly?

I don’t know much about the character of Supergirl. She is Superman’s cousin, is blonde, and wears a skirt. We’ve seen a few appearances from her in some animated shows. I toyed with showing my daughter the 1984 Helen Slater movie, but I remember it being terrible.

But Supergirl – as a concept – has been an easy shorthand to help my daughter to engage with superheroes. She is familiar with Superman, mostly from the Donner movies and the 90’s animated series, and the concept of a female version inspires her. If she puts on a cape, her default hero to be is ‘Supergirl’. If she wears a top with the ‘S’ insignia, again she is ‘Supergirl’.

Given this, I was excited by the prospect of a Supergirl TV show, so she could engage with the character directly. When I saw the first photos of Melissa Benoist in character, she certainly looked the part. She also had a warmth to her expression, that went against the prevailing darkness of most superhero adaptations these days. This would hopefully be an uplifting show.

An early trailer left me feeling a little wary, as it was rather close to this viral Black Widow rom-com parody.

This week we finally got to check out the TV show, on Sky 1 in the UK (minor spoilers ahead).

The set up is that the teenage Kara flees the doomed planet of Krypton right behind her baby cousin Kal-El (aka Superman), but as is the way with these things, she arrives long after him – so long that while she hasn’t aged, he is now Superman. She was supposed to protect the baby, but now she is the child who needs his help.

She grows up choosing not to follow him into the heroic business. We find her stuck in a dead end job working for Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart plays her ‘Devil Wears Prada’ like boss Cat Grant). Her life is going nowhere. She seem unfulfilled, until circumstances lead her to use her powers to prevent a plane crashing, and a hero is born.

Much set-up follows, including her costume (trying to justify the short skirt and cape), name (trying to justify the use of ‘girl’ over ‘woman’), and who the villains are (no spoilers).

Being a) the female version of a male hero, and b) being called ‘girl’ means this probably isn’t going to be the definitive strong female superhero many are clamouring for. But despite this I am happy for my daughter to engage with Supergirl (like Batgirl before her) because they can still be excellent, empowering characters when handled right. Plus, my daughter is proud of being a girl, so the name is one she likes.

As this is a primetime US network show, I had no reason to think it wouldn’t be suitable for my 3-year-old daughter to watch with me, and I was right. While there was a little cuddling up to me while Kara faced down the bad guy du jour, this is nothing compared to how upset she gets with other more overtly kiddie fare – such as the scrapyard denouement of Toy Story 3.

Will we be watching more? Absolutely. While the Devil Wears Prada aspect was there, it didn’t dominate. It’s being set-up with potential love interests for Kara, bit that didn’t drive the plot. It passes the Bechedel Test. And the superhero action was for the most part well staged. My daughter likes the character interplay as much as the superheroics, and spent the whole episode engaged and full of questions about the unfolding story.

This was a pilot episode, that had to shoehorn in a lot of exposition and set up. I trust that it’ll settle into a more streamlined show, and even if it doesn’t – showing my daughter a female hero save crashing planes, throw down with a villain, or take out a truck hurtling towards her, is enough for me. And probably for her too…

This kid. So awesome. 😀

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Who is the Most Baddass Female Marvel Character? There’s an Infographic For That

I often get emailed stuff for me to run on the blog in return for nothing. No product, no money. Nothing. Usually, I ignore these requests. But for once I’m not, because this is kind of cool.

Fancy dress makers Morphsuits have put together this stylish infographic to help you figure out who is the most badass female Marvel character out there.

To be honest, this doesn’t help me decide that at all. Storm? She Hulk? Wasp (no, really)?

But it’s kinda cool to look at.

Female Superheroes, The Most Baddass Female Marvel Characters, Captain Marvel,

Has the New Big Screen Batgirl Been Revealed?

We knew Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching FireInherent Vice, Contact) was cast in the forthcoming Batman V Superman movie, and it was assumed that she was most likely being set up as a female Robin, as depicted in The Dark Knight Returns comic.

However, Latino Review reports that this may not be the case – that she may in fact be playing Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. The character was previously seen onscreen in the critically mauled Batman and Robin, played by Alicia Silverstone.

What do you think? Would she make a good onscreen Batgirl?