Last week, I finally got around to watching the first episode the new Sailor Moon reboot, Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s good, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little underwhelmed. I thought about reviewing it for last week’s Tools of the Imagination, but thought better of it, deciding to wait for the whole season at least to finish up.
I considered instead reviewing some Sailor Moon toys. ToI really is supposed to be about toys, with movies and shows (theoretically) being tertiary.
Having played with some of the Sailor Moon toys when the original show aired on the 1990s, I kind of liked the idea. I’ve reviewed almost exclusively ‘boys’ toys on here and Sailor Moon was and still is one of those great franchises at tries to break down that rather arbitrary wall.
The problem was finding information on the toys themselves.
Boys’ toys (and I don’t like using that designation, but it is kind of industry standard and it seems appropriate for this particular discussion about one of many inequities in the toy market so I’m going to run with it) are pretty thoroughly documented. You can get every tiny little detail on just about every toy made for boys. But girls’ toys? Outside of Barbie, good luck. Picture can be found but release dates, measurements, distribution information? You have to really know where to look, and verifying with multiple official sources is a dream.
Part of this I understand. Boys’ toys are geared very much on the idea of collecting. Get all the Autobots. Have all the Cobra vehicles. I’d say it’s a feature of action figures, but the Sailor Moon toys were and are action figures and there’s really no evidence of such an effort for these to be collected. They certainly haven’t seen the usual monitoring and cataloging that their boys’ toys counterparts have seen.
Part of this may be fandom, part of this may be industry. It’s hard to tell. Do toys not sell well because the kids aren’t interested, or are kids not interested because the toys aren’t marketed well, or are toys not marketed well because they don’t sell well? That question alone is at the heart of economics and debated by industry professionals to this day. But while they debate it, little girls who want to play with women action figures find themselves short on options. And little boys who want a little boy doll to play house with are just as out of luck.