Howdy, folks. It’s the day after Christmas and soon the holiday madness will be all behind us. I’ve got only two more days in 2015 before Monday when I lapse into my week long Favorites & Disappointments lists so I can lock in the autopilot and take a week off of bloggery. And since Christmas time is the season when we tend to think a lot about the toys and that whole industry, I thought it appropriate to end with a look at a line of figures that seeks to make a bold statement about the state of the action figure market as well as make an impact toward change.
There were quite a few noteworthy action figure Kickstarters back in 2014. I backed a lot of them, but I couldn’t back them all. Even my voracious appetite for plastic must bow to the realities of finance. One of the projects that I found to be particularly interesting was called IAmElemental.
As I understand it, this line of action figures was designed by two mothers, geared specifically for girls, and consisting of strong girl characters. It was created to bring some balance to a very boy-orientated market. I never even gave the subject much thought until two somewhat recent events in the toy aisles. The first was when Hasbro released a toy based on an amazing scene in the Age of Ultron film where Black Widow drove a motorcycle out of a jet in mid air. Hasbro deliberately changed the character on the toy to one of the male Avengers. The second was the dawn of the LEGO Friends line, which is “targeted at girls” but with subject matter that could best be described as fluff. The Friends Mini-figures are relegated to going to salons, malls, and ice cream parlors while their counterparts in the other “boys” LEGO aisle are fighting crime, building cities, and exploring space. Yeah. They might just have a point there. Honestly, I could do a whole feature just analyzing these debates, but I’m really here to look at some figures. The motivation for today’s feature came from a friend who wanted to see my take on the IAmElemental line. She offered to lend me her set, but a little research showed that the figures were available for purchase online from their website and I opted to support the creators by purchasing a set for myself. And since I’ve already got a little long winded, I’m going to take a look at the packaging today and I’ll come back tomorrow to take a look at the figures in Part 2.
The presentation here is really superb. The set comes in a tin lunchbox with an illustrated cardboard slip over it. When I was a kid, I used to pack my Star Wars figures into a tin Star Wars lunchbox and carry them to my friends house. It was smaller and I could cram more figures into it than the official carry cases. Hell, I still have a Classic Series Star Trek lunch box up on the shelf with my Playmates Trek figures in it. Needless to say, I think this is a really neat idea. This set was the core of the Kickstarter campaign and basically gives you the entire first series of seven action figures.
The back of the cardboard wrap cleverly shows the backs of the figures, as well as their shields. Each of the shields depicts the symbol of the Element that the figure represents. You’ve got Fear, Persistence, Enthusiasm, Industry, Honesty, Energy, and Bravery. Each character has her own unique powers based on the Element she represents. Together all the elements make up Courage. And yup, it’s influenced by the Periodic Table of Elements. A lot of thought went into this line, which we’ll see more of tomorrow when I actually have the figures opened.
Inside the tin you get seven individually packaged figures, an activity book, and a bracelet. OK, I’m a middle-aged guy, so I’ll confess that the book is a little lost on me, particularly the activities that are aimed at girls, but I think it’s a great idea and gives the figures even more of a sense of depth and purpose. On the other hand, the booklet does feature some great illustrations of the characters and I won’t rule out the fact that I might relieve some stress after work some day by busting out some markers and coloring them. Just saying. It could happen. The bracelet works in conjunction with the action figures’ shields, which can be used as a sort of charm bracelet. Again, not exactly part of my demographic, but I can appreciate the thought that went into it.
The figures come in what are similar to large blind bags, but the back of each package has a checklist for each of the seven characters and each one is ticked off in marker to show what’s inside. Of course, if you buy this set, you get one of each. The packs are only collector friendly in that you can make a clean cut and put them back in afterwards. They also look great, just like something you might see hanging on a peg at Target. Seriously, why are these not hanging on a peg at Target? Our Target has a whole section of blind bagged stuff and everything they have is crap. My nephew once spent $5 on a crappy licensed dog tag, which he promptly forgot about and left in the car. I’m sad something as thoughtful as these aren’t represented in the Big Box toy aisles.
Anyway… I’m pretty excited to check these out, so I’m going to break here and go off and open me up some figures and I’ll be back tomorrow to have a look!