Scarlett (2009)

Female figures don’t sell. If you’ve been collecting action figures for a minute, and have ever read or heard and interview with a toy company rep, be it Hasbro, Mattel, Toy Biz or others, you’re familiar with the mantra. Conventional wisdom states that its true. Until I had a child, I had my doubts, but having perspective beyond an adult toy collector, I now see the logic. Even in the changing environment of today’s toy market, the statement still rings true. I see plenty of Stealth Elf and Hex hanging on the pegs when my son goes looking at Skylanders. In general, little boys (at least in this writer’s corner of Western culture) don’t want to play with tiny plastic representations of girls.

The Rise of Cobra produced a fair share of members from the distaff side of the GI Joe family. Naturally, the female presence in both the comic and cartoon was comparatively significant against the likes of the 1980s’ other toy juggernaut, Star Wars. In the galaxy far, far away, there was Princess Leia and…that was it. GI Joe had Scarlett, Lady Jaye, Cover Girl, the Baroness, and others. Heck, the first movie line even worked in a Helix figure. On would think that in the 80s, more boys would have bought up some of the ladies. My childhood buddies had maybe one female figure (usually Lady Jaye). Years later, Rise of Cobra Scarlett and the Baroness seemed to hang out on the pegs quite a while; I even saw a movie Baroness at a CVS in 2011. Wow.

Outfitted in the camo gear that was common to the movie team in its training and HQ scenes, Scarlett is a more colorful change of pace from her superheroic “reactive armor” iteration. I still cringe at the sight of the Batman/stillsuit movie uniforms. I’m not stuck to one idea that the GI Joe team should only resemble their 80s toys, but I’m also not a fan of boring costumes. Because of its visual interest, this remains my preferred toy version of movie Scarlett. The uniform holds a lot of interest in its sculpted detail, like the belt, boots and jacket. Even the head mold is a decent likeness of Rachel Nichols.

Scarlett also has a couple of features built into her backpack, a hole and a groove. Okay okay, maybe a hole and a groove don’t sound all that impressive, but they can accommodate a small peg in her crossbow, and store her sword, respectively. I’ve repeated it ad nauseum, but I love weapon/gear storage on toys. The fact that she can brandish a rifle and carry her other weapons at the same time is a very cool bonus feature. The only bit of gear she can’t handle at the same time is her freakishly large spring-loaded crossbow launcher. Not a huge loss.


  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    My very first Joe figure was the original Baroness figure. Thank God I got it when I did, because I never saw another one in person after that trip to the store. I personally never had an aversion to female action figures when I was a kid and if I liked the character, I’d jump at the opportunity to get the figure.

    I’m not a fan of the head sculpt on this Scarlett. The Joe lines in particular have a long history of only a few female characters with decent to attractive head sculpts. Other lines with females don’t seem to have that problem.

  • Actually. The Kenner star wars line included three females. Princes Leia, EV-9D9 and Keia Mol who came from the woeful droids line.

    What bugged me about the costumes/uniforms in R.O.C is that everyone looked the same. There were no unique uniforms. I know the originial 13 wear similar uniforms but each one of them has something unique; weather it be “waffle armour”, camoflage or a black uniform.

    Oh. When R.O.C was released down here, one of the morning news shows interveiwed Nichols and Miller about their action figures and they both complained about the lack of likeness.

    Regarding female action figures. I actually think they are an often overlooked and represented staple. When my sister and i were kids she liked Transformers but was never able to play with me as she couldnt get her hands on an Arcee figuere. She did however manage to get a Zarana aFrankensteined Baroness and a Ninja force Scarlet and she liked them.Though her favoirute character was Junkyard.

  • As a kid, I had no qualms about having a female action figure. I guess only the ratio really mattered (i.e. having far more males than females). I saw no problem as a kid having Zarana, Jinx (didn’t get Lady Jaye, never saw Baroness). Of course, it might for kids come down to the type of female figure. Female punks and ninjas might be more able to overcome the stigma than say, a princess type figure.

    I wonder how well Teela & Evil-Lyn sold in the He-Man line. They were both prominently featured in the cartoon, often as the #2 or #3 of their side. I’ve read about the troubles the She-Ra line had, though it was aimed at girls (the female exec of Mattel attributed weak She-Ra, Jem sales [latter from Hasbro] to prevaling attitudes about what kinds of toys girls should play with) even though the cartoon was quite popular.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    I think if She-Ra toys had trouble selling (I don’t know if they did or didn’t), it might not just be that enough girls weren’t interested in the line, but I think a lot of parents weren’t comfortable with their sons who were into She-Ra having those kind of toys. They were action figures, but with the hair and brushes, were presented very much like dolls.

    As for Teela and Evil-Lyn, I’d like to think they sold well as their figures were available throughout the entire run of the toy line. They were always available from the time they were first released until the very last wave. I’m not trying to imply that they just sat on the shelves for a long time, but that they were included in nearly all shipments of the figures and if a kid wanted one, they wouldn’t have been hard to find at the store. Teela and Evil-Lyn were my very first female action figures and I can’t tell you how happy I was when I first got mine. I was huge into He-Man at the time and it was so fun to be able to include them in my He-Man adventures.

  • I like the Reactive Armour Scarlett better; IMO it’s just a better head sculpt full stop. Of course, Movie Scarlett gives me “meta” level giggles for rather convoluted reasons.

  • Logic, shmogic–this is the 21st century, toy companies should drop that stupid line of thinking. Maybe we should make them…..

  • @Deadborder
    Did you see anyone buy the movie stuff in your neck of the woods? I was the only person in my town to do so

  • I think the issue also was that Jem especially tried to compete directly against Barbie. But even She-Ra “girlied” up the toys quite a bit. While the cartoon was slightly tilted towards girls, the toys went way over the top.

  • I think the issue with Scarlett and Baroness clogging pegs was that two different versions of a female character was asking a bit too much. While I wasn’t a fan of reactive armor Scarlett, after picking that up I didn’t see a real need to get a camo-fatigues version.

    I like the Renegades version as a “casual” Scarlett anyway, and the headsculpt is a lot better.

  • The first Wave was all over the place in local TRUs, K-Marts and TARGATs, as well as some of the department stores. The second and subsequent waves were.. spotty, to say the least.

    Reactive Armour Scarlett, Destro and Shipwreck were some of the ones I got. Glad I did too!

  • Nice mold (except for the head) i.m.o..

  • It’s not surprising that Joe didn’t have a ton of female figures.Let me let you guys in on a dirty little secret. Despite what the feminist lobby tells you, females DO NOT make good soldiers, based on my years in the regular army (1st Cavalry Division, I was a tank driver)and the NY National Guard.

  • @Troublemagnet

    That’s pretty much what I’ve heard from every ground soldier I’ve ever come across who’s offered his opinion on the matter.

    As for the topic of the post, though I own most of the modern-style female Joes (excepting exclusives like Zarana, Zanya, Jinx and Daina), as a boy, I had only Baroness and Jinx, and only really bothered to bring them out when trying to convince my female cousins to play with my brothers and I.

  • @Deadborder
    They sold so poorly in my area, the latter waves almost didnt appear. My favorite ones from the line are Shipwreck, Heavy Duty [green uniform] and polar snake eyes. I found “Arctic” Snake eyes at Comic kingdom on Elivabeth street.
    Well after the line had been thrown into the 99 cent bins at Coles, i found an Eel, R.A Heavy duty, Helix and Pit commando at a Reject shop but i cannibalised them for fodder purposes. I turned Helix into a modern Bombstrike, Pit commando into LT Falcon and Heavy Duty into a SAW viper. In hindsight, Helix was a good figure i shouldnt have “destroyed”.

    From what i have seen on trips to Sydney, some of the later waves did turn up at comic and specialty stores. But they arnt cheap. That polar snake eyes was nearly $25.00

  • Females sold the worst. Ex-Hasbro boys toys exec Kirk Bozigian said as much in an old toy magazine interview from around 1993. They tried to work more into the line, but every time they pitched new female figures from 1988-1992, the higher ups rejected them. They finally got Ninja Force Scarlett (plus Chun-Li) in 1993…and a new Baroness finally got approval just in time to be cancelled.

    Back then bad guys sold less than good guys overall, that’s why the JOES got more new figures every year than Cobra.

  • I should note, the She-Ra toys *were* a girls’ toy line. From what I’ve read online, the only figure there with some crossover appeal was She-Ra simply because she was She-Ra, He-Man’s sister. She-Ra & Jem had issues selling with girls and the exec attributed it to parents of girls not wanting their daughters playing with action figures (even if they came with brushable hair and other girly accessories) or with a rock star-styled line.

  • I can see the anti-rock star thing carrying some weight in more conservative areas of the US, now that you mention it. The Misfits were certainly more out there than a lot of people would’ve liked back in the 80s.

  • Speaking of Jem. I hear John Chu is going to make a live action Jem movie

  • If this Jem movie comes to pass, I will be so very happy.

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