By Jeremy Konrad
I am not here to debate the portrayal of Black Widow, as portrayed by Scarlet Johansson in Age of Ultron. What I do have is an increasingly annoyed customer base that wants to know where their Black Widow merchandise is. Now that the movie is out, multiple times a day we have people come into the store asking where the Black Widow shirts, action figures, and various other merchandise is. They become increasingly annoyed when I tell them we don't have anything. Why, you may ask? Well, because there really is not anything. Not only Widow, but Scarlet Witch and even Maria Hill as well. Let's focus on the toys themselves though.
Would anyone like to guess how many Captain America figures have been produced by Hasbro since the first Captain America movie came out? Between the 3 ¾ inch and 6 inch Legends, 21—not including variants and pack-ins with vehicles. Thor has 19. Iron Man surely has the most, I stopped counting at 33. What about Black Widow? Well, she was in Iron Man 2 right? You wouldn't know it from the toys, zero figures. Ooh, but she had a much bigger part to play in Avengers! Only big enough for one figure in the 3 ¾ line, also short packed. Well, Captain America Winter Solider had to have been different, right? Nothing 3 ¾ and finally a Legends 6 inch figure. That one was initially one per case, and because of the uproar a revision case with two made the rounds, which was still pretty impossible to find. For Age of Ultron? As of right now, no new 6 inch figure is announced or looks to be coming, and the only 3 ¾ figure is a Toys R Us exclusive packed in with Captain America. Scarlet Witch also has a short packed one per case 3 ¾ figure as well, but good luck finding it.
Then, they did this:
This is a huge disappointment to not only collectors, but consumers as a whole. Hasbro will tell you that action figures are boy toys, that they don't want to buy figures of women characters. They say the same things to Star Wars collectors about characters like Leia, and when she is produced, it is usually in her "slave" Leia costume. One of the most clamored for figures in any scale in the Star Wars line is a Princess Leia, full buns, blaster in hand, full of attitude. They finally made one this year that left a lot to be desired, and the ones before that were over 5-6 years ago. They had a Leia all ready to go, and when they removed it from the release schedule earlier this year, the hashtag #WheresLeia made the rounds on Twitter for weeks. Even last week, it was summed up beautifully by actor Colin Hanks in a post on Instagram.
Now, the popular hashtag is #WheresNatasha. And it is a valid question. What Marvel Entertainment and Hasbro need to realize is that not only boys buy superhero merchandise, let alone action figures. What kind of sense does it make to remove Widow from the toy version or what is arguably her biggest sequence in the film? And to be replaced by Cap, who has no shortage of figures on the shelf? And it isn't just toys. I personally wanted a new Avengers shirt to wear, but one with the whole team on it. After literally weeks of searching, I found one that had Widow on it at Walmart of all places, but only one.
Granted, she is front and center on it (look at how little Thor is!), but there are no other shirts in any store I have walked into featuring Widow, Scarlet Witch, or even Maria Hill. Not one. And I know what you are going to say: just shop online. Well, as a retailer, first: no. Second, there are not that many online either. And third: some people just want to be able to walk into a store and buy a dang shirt. Girls AND boys want merchandise featuring ALL of the Avengers. Why would you not want to give it to them? The worst thing that happens is you make more money, more people find the things they want, and everyone wins. Sounds alright to me.
Jeremy Konrad works at a comic shop in Ohio. He collects Star Wars, Marvel, and wrestling figures, and he loves Star Wars more than anything in the world. Here mostly talks about that. Talk about whatever you want with him on Twitter @jeremyohio