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

 I am Elemental series 2 wisdom warriors, female action figures, action figures for girls and boys, anatomically correct female action figures
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.

IAmElemental, female superhero figures, anatomically correct female action figures, female superhero action figures

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.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner toy review

After finally taking the plunge and watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with my daughter, it remains a staple in our household. More often than not, it’s the answer to my question to our daughter “What do you feel like watching?”.

Visually, Pinkie Pie was probably my least favourite Pony. One of the six friends who make up the core group of the show, she is just so… pink!

But the thing is, her character is far from stereotypically girly. While she loves all things party related, she is also something that female characters are rarely allowed to be – funny.

More than that, she’s goofy, silly, whacky… Her character is the source of much physical humour, and she is rightly adored by many children – and not just because she’s pink, but because she makes them laugh.

This set is from the bakery and sweet shop where her character works. As well as Pinkie Pie, this also has another pony called Cheese Sandwich (!) and various accessories such as plastic cakes and balloons.

Included are items specifically for Pinkie Pie to be the loon we love – a ball to balance on, a propeller hat, a fake moustache, and even a rubber chicken. She also has her pet gator Gummy.

MLP Friendship is Magic Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe with Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe toy

As a toy, it doesn’t really do anything. Other than some doors opening, there are no moving parts. Even the figures are just figurines, with no articulation. I can’t imagine someone who hasn’t seen the show thinking much of it.

However, as a tool for imaginative play for children who do know the show, this works fine. I’m glad that the Pinkie Pie figure here is depicted as lovably goofy as her onscreen persona – I have noticed that many MLP toys do not reflect the tone of the vibrant tone of the show.

Pinkie Pie is a character who wants to make people happy, and this set certainly made my daughter happy.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner has an RRP of £19.99.

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Disclosure: We received this product free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Star Wars and More – London Toy Fair 2016 Round Up

I had never been to a toy fair before. These are industry events where toymakers and distributors, buyers and sellers, meet to find out about the latest toys and trends. It’s a time for writers like myself to find out more too. I also thought it would be a fun place to take the kid to, so we made a day of it.

Some of the stands are very popular and secretive, none more so that LEGO. You have to make an appointment to get taken through to see what they have in store, and no photographs are allowed inside.

New LEGO sets preview

LEGO Kylo Ren BB-8 Rey
The LEGO stand was invite only. Security was tight, with some high profile sentries guarding the entrance

LEGO have pretty much a cradle to grave product – beginning with the most basic Duplo through to the adult fans of LEGO (afol) market. We were pretty excited to get a tour of what they have coming up.

Seeing the whole range, I was struck by how far they have recently progressed in terms of gender representation. So many sets now feature female figures as standard, regardless of theme.

For instance in our tour, I saw the Duplo rocket had a boy and a girl, superhero sets featured Wonder Woman, Katana, Black Widow (with Falcon), and most surprisingly Spider-Girl! This incarnation had a reddish/yellow outfit and long brown hair. Can’t wait to get our hands on that set. Their City range continued to be inclusive (as I have pointed out before).

Even their new Nexo Knights range has female characters – my daughter was lucky to get her very own Macy minifigure (who has a very cool mace as weapon).

LEGO Nexo Knight Macy minifigure
Macy, one of LEGO’s new Nexo Knights line

To me, LEGO Friends has always been problematic from this perspective, but even here there has been progress. The new LEGO Friends sets are far more activity focused than previously. They have just released an Adventure Camp set, and we were shown a very cool and interactive Amusement Park one.

We saw a great new Volcano theme that highlights the science aspects, some nice new superhero sets, such as the aforementioned female heroes, plus a tantalising glimpse at Marvel’s Doctor Strange one (his New York townhouse). There was a line based on the forthcoming Angry Birds movie, and I also spotted some Star Wars sets that I wasn’t supposed to see – so I’ll respect their wishes, and say no more about those…

A Star Wars fan’s delight

Star Wars was unsurprisingly a dominant theme of the toy fair. Thinkway Toys displayed their range of Star Wars remote controlled vehicles and drones, including a preview of their fantastic looking BB-8 remote controlled toy – which will be nearer full sized than a current rival toy.

AMERANG Lightsaber Kotobukiya chopsticks Giant Leia Kenner figure
Some of the Star Wars goodies on the Amerang stand

There were lots of cool stuff in the Amerang stand, who distribute to the adult collector market. My highlights were seeing the giant sized Leia as Boush, plus their Lightsaber chopsticks.

I was glad to stumble upon the Zeon stand. They make Star Wars homewares, and are the company who made our Death Star tea caddy (supposed to be a cookie jar) that my wife & daughter gave me for my birthday. It makes me smile every day 🙂

My daughter was entranced at the range of Star Wars cuddly toys on display at the Posh Paws stand.

Posh Paws Star Wars Toy Fair 2016
Checking out the Posh Paws Star Wars soft toys

Her Star Wars highlight was probably at Underground Toys.

cuddling BB8 Chewie
She found the Underground Toys cuddly BB-8 and Chewbacca toys irresistible

They make and distribute lots of licensed toys and homewares. While I was being shown round, my daughter kept wanting to go back and cuddle these large sized BB-8 and Chewbacca cuddly toys.

She also left with a mini talking Yoda plush toy, which she was very pleased about.

Underground also have the UK license for FUNKO collectables, and there were some great ones featuring female characters, from the Star Wars and Superhero range among others.

It wasn’t all about Star Wars

Toy Fair 2016 Playmobil Fashion Space
Playmobil’s new Fashion and Space themes

Away from Star Wars, we were shown the forthcoming sets from Playmobil.

The range of themes and sets has made this a popular toy in our house. Of the new ones, there is a cool looking new space theme (including a female astronaut), plus a fashion range that gives the dolls interchangeable clothes.

This starkly illustrates the range of play ideas on offer. My daughter liked both.

Elsewhere, it became a bit of a blur – things that caught either mine or my daughter’s eye were the the return of Stretch Armstrong (just as ridiculous now as the seventies), Tekstra robotic animals, and lots of new Peppa Pig, Ninja Turtles, and the forthcoming Finding Dory and Zootroplois tie-in toys.

The smaller toy companies hoping to make a big difference

A big highlight for us was going to the Lottie dolls stand. We love Lottie, and have featured the brand on the blog regularly, as it is exactly the kind of doll I want for my daughter – who is as happy being a superhero as a ballerina.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and check out the wonderful Lottie range at lottie.com. If you buy anything, enter the code blogambassador at check out for a 20% discount. Happy shopping!

We had an appointment at the end of the day with a smaller comany, Coiled Spring Games, and we were really taken with their Batman Story Cubes – a collection of die that have different Batman elements on them.

Roll them out, and then make a story from what icons lands face up. It’s a cool idea, and I was really glad to see they featured images of the likes of Catwoman and Harley Quinn. So was my daughter 🙂

Regrets? I have a few…

My biggest mistake in hindsight is not making the time to explore other smaller – and newer – toymakers. I have no idea what wonderful toys they may have had on show, and that is a real shame.

But on our way out, I was happy to stumble upon one such stand. We were drawn to A Girl for all Time for a very personal reason – one of the dolls has the same name as my wife (Lydia).

As I pointed this out to my daughter, the ladies on the stand started chatting to us, and the MD, Frances Cain, recognised my blog name. She explained how these dolls, beautifully made and outfitted, have a brilliantly simple but engaging theme.

They follow a matriarchal family tree, so each doll is part of a social history narrative following one family through the ages. Each doll helps illustrate the role of women at that time – from the Tudor period, right through to the latest contemporary dolls – unveiled at the toy fair – of Maya and Nisha.

Your Modern Girl Maya Nisha
Maya and Nisha are part of ‘Your Modern Girl’ – a proposed new addition to the line. They are hoping to go into production later this year.

What these two dolls also add to this social history is the racial diversity of modern Britain, as Nisha is clearly darker than her ascendents.

Children love narratives in their play, but this line is inspired by research that shows the emotional benefits of children knowing more about their family history. A Girl for all Time is to be supported by a range of books mapping out this story. It’s a premium high quality toy, and is priced accordingly, but it is the kind of toy that could become a family keepsake, the way those Steiff bears that always crop up on the Antiques Roadshow are.

What did we make of our first Toy Fair?

While long, we had a great day out. This was the day after my daughter’s 4th Birthday party, and she did incredibly well to last the 7 hour visit without any kind of meltdown.

It was ironic that in a hall with so many toys, there were so few children – so my daughter got smiles (and toys) throughout the day. Her female superhero skirt was especially popular!

While she got to see and play with lots of toys, I also had many chats and meetings (including bloggers – it was great to finally meet Tom from Diary of a Dad). This was a repeated activity that many 4-year-olds would find too boring to stand for long.

One thing that struck me in these meetings was how often – arriving at a toy stand with my daughter – I was asked if I was just interested in seeing the ‘girls’ toys. Gender categories are clearly still very entrenched within the toy industry. My answer was a (hopefully) polite “No we’d like to see everything please.”

My moment of the day? My Playmobil PR meeting concluding rather abruptly with my daughter exclaiming “Daddy, I need a poo.” Stay classy little one 🙂

LEGO Star Wars – Death Star Final Duel set review

My daughter loves LEGO and loves Star Wars, so naturally she enjoys playing with LEGO Star Wars. This week we were lucky to be sent a trio of sets to build, play, and review. When they arrived my daughter was rather overcome with excitement.

Honestly, her choice of a LEGO Star Wars t-shirt that morning really was a coincidence.

I assumed she’d have trouble deciding which one to make first, but she opted straight away for the set with Darth Vader. She loves Darth Vader. I like to think it’s because he’s Leia and Luke’s daddy.

This new Star Wars LEGO set recreates the iconic setting of the final showdown between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi in the Emperor’s Death Star throne room.

My daughter and I spent an afternoon making this together, while listening to the Return of the Jedi soundtrack (her idea). Given this set is recommended for 8+ and my daughter is a 3-year-old, I was the Master Builder with my daughter assisting. Playing LEGO is a great joint activity for us, and while she can’t make a set like this herself, it helps her develop her fine motor skills, ability to follow instructions, general concentration, as well as her imagination, when we build LEGO together like this.

She did have sole responsibility for the minifigs though, of which there are five – Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and two of his Royal Guards.

Death Star™ Final Duel (#75093) - minifigs

The detailed 100+ page instruction booklet was easy to follow, and by afternoon’s end we had an awesome LEGO Star Wars playset. It recreates the key spaces of the movie setting, such as the Emperors throne:

Emperor on throne
“My young apprentice…”

The Stairs leading up to it where Luke and Vader duel:

Death Star™ Final Duel (75093) - Luke vs Vader
“Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.”

The shaft where Vader sends the Emperor to meet his maker:

Emperor thrown away
“Nooooooooooooo…..”

And the Darth Vader figure is particularly nicely detailed, with a two piece helmet so you can recreate the big reveal.

Vader removes helmet
“Just for once… let me… look on you with my own eyes.”

As well as the adapted setting, this also has interactive elements such as a collapsing walkway and stairs, sliding doors, plus a minifig ‘force jump’ lever, and even mechanism to fire a lightsaber in the air. There are also hinges and siding parts so it can be opened up or closed between play sessions.

“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed.”

I actually have an early precursor to this set. That one wasn’t very impressive.

To call this new set an improvement is clearly an understatement.

The fundamentally great thing about this is that it’s a playset. It provides my daughter with a detailed LEGO Star Wars environment for her to recreate scenarios with her minifigs. We have a bunch of LEGO Star Wars vehicles, which are great, but this is our first playset (the one above clearly doesn’t count) and the way she interacts with it is a joy to behold.

My daughter loves to improve upon the existing stories, usually by adding more female characters (for instance, she made her own Princess Leia minifig and a brand new scenario to go with it). As this scene is all male, she addressed the lack of women by bringing in a couple of female characters from the other sets we received.

Eventually, we came up with our own alternative finale.

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Our rewritten Return of the Jedi ending: Luke and Darth Vader are about to begin their lightsaber showdown. On Endor, Princess Leia has reflected on the bombshell that Darth Vader is her father, and realises that the Force is strong in her too. She finds a spare lightsaber of Luke’s and flies off to resolve the conflict the impending conflict between father and son. She brings along legendary Rebel fighter Sabine Wren for back up. Leia’s confidence and diplomatic skills diffuse the situation before any fighting can begin (leaving Luke and Vader a little perplexed). The Emperor is arrested for his crimes against the galaxy, led away in handcuffs, and they all leave before Lando destroys the Death Star. The End.

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And that was rounded off with an epilogue that my daughter created all by herself.

I think she knows daddy often likes a glass of wine or two at the end of the day. :s

This is a perfect LEGO Star Wars set to enable any little girl (or boy) to create new adventures with. While it was satisfying to construct, it’s far more fun to play with. My daughter usually tries to pull apart any sets we build, but she hasn’t even attempted to with this. She far too busy coming up with more stories in the galaxy far, far away. The force is strong with this one.

Playing Death Star Duel

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The LEGO Star Wars – Death Star Final Duel set (75093) has an RRP of £69.99, and is available to buy here.

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive this LEGO set free of charge. All opinions stated remain our own.