When I woke up this morning I immediately got on Twitter to see what I’d missed in my sleep. A bunch of my Midwestern friends are at C2E2 so I’ve been reading all of their Con related tweets to make up for the fact that I can’t be there. While scrolling through my timeline, I saw a few of my friends discussing the Marvel Bobble Heads being sold on the Hot Topic website, specifically this one:
What the hell is this?
As you can tell (more from the box than the actual doll) the character is supposed to be Heimdall. Not the Norse God version, not the comic book version, but the Marvel Movie verse version who’s played by Idris Elba in both of the Thor films. So why is the doll white when the character, actor AND EVEN THE PICTURE OF THE DOLL ON THE BOX is Black?
It seems like a big (read: racist) mistake, but one of the many that Marvel is making when it comes to their merchandising. Recently the Internet has pointed out that out of all of the six main characters in The Avengers, Black Widow is the one with the least merchandise out. If you go to the Target website alone you’ll see that while Hawkeye doesn’t have any merchandise out for just himself, he’s still featured on more items featuring the Avengers as a group than Black Widow, who is totally excluded from most of it. Black Widow also only has 5 items available, as opposed to the 111 for Captain America, 70 for Iron Man, 66 for The Hulk and 25 for Thor.
But it seems that Marvel isn’t the only company who thinks only White Male toys sell. Funko — the company that makes the bleached out Heimdall above – seem to have played around with color changes with Characters of Color before. For the Assassin’s Creed video game character Connor, Funko decided to ditch the darker tone of the character in the game in favor of one much like Heimdall.
Bleaching out the Men of Color in merchandise and limiting merchandise for women isn’t where this stops either. When it comes to Women of Color, it seems that some companies think the best course of action for their merchandising is to exclude them entirely. McDonald’s Happy Meal toy for the the movie Home feature only one of the two main characters, Oh. The other main character, a black Trinidadian girl named Tip, was only featured on the box of the Happy Meal.
My money is green like everyone else’s, but it seems as if most companies don’t think this. While I’m more than willing to spend my money on toys, posters and just about anything of my favorite characters from my favorite shows, it bothers me that my money seems to only go towards things that don’t represent me. People of Color, especially Women of Color are growing a voice in Pop and Nerd culture, and we have money to spend too. Representation is important, so maybe companies should start to recognize that and give Fans of Color the merch that they want.