Women as Action Heroes: Supply and Demand


We’ve heard about a number of prodigiously insulting marketing decisions at the intersection of merchandising, pop culture and genre fiction, such as the disappearance of Black Widow from lines of Avengers merchandise and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise. It’s been made clear that boys are the target market for toys. But do you ever wonder if it’s not also a deliberate ploy to manipulate supply and demand for price gouging?

We just learned that to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series, CBS has licensed toy company Mattel to produce a line of Barbie-style dolls based on Lieutenant Uhura, Captain Kirk, and Commander Spock. I immediately checked on Amazon, because I want Lt. Uhura on my desk! But I discovered that she’s unavailable, even though the other two can be purchased just fine for $34.99 each.


StarTrek50th-dollsWhat gives?

But Amazon went on to offer me other lopsided-deals on memorabilia Barbie-like dolls. How about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman figures based on the recent movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Hey, good news: all three are available. And priced at…

Wait, what?

Why is Wonder Woman 63% more expensive than Batman, at $39.86 compared to $24.49? Is anyone going to believe that the boots and shield are much more expensive to manufacture than Batman’s cape, cowl and utility belt?

Batman-doll Superman-doll WonderWoman-doll

It seems that there is in fact a demand for woman as action heroes. The decision to make their merchandise rare doesn’t seem to be based on lack of interest from buyers; could it be that our yearning for representation is being used to wring more money out of us?


  • Dawn of Justice BIG FIGS 19″: Wonder Woman $31.22, Batman $23.65, Superman currently unavailable.
  • Marvel Titan Hero Series: Black Widow $22.90, Hawkeye $21.99, Falcon $16.99, War Machine $16.93, Winter Soldier $15.40, Black Panther $14.99, Thor $12.58, Ant-Man $10.99, Hulk $10.97, Vision $9.99, Captain America $8.64.
  • Barbie Pink Label Collector based on Star Trek reboot: Uhura $49.80, Kirk $29.95
  • Barbie Collector The Hunger Games: Katniss $36.99, Gale $39.94 (whoa!), Peeta $14.19, Effie Trinket $12.48, Finnick Odair $11.86.
  • Star Wars The Force Awakens 3.75-Inch:
    • Rey, Resistance Outfit: $31.60
    • Space Mission: Poe Dameron $8.00, $5.75 (two different outfits)
    • Forest Mission: Kylo Ren $7.99, Captain Phasma $7.89, Chewbacca currently unavailable.
    • Desert Mission: Finn $19. 41 (with stormtrooper armour and mortar), $6.89 (in civvies)
    • Snow Mission: Finn $14.99, Kylo Ren $10.66, Rey currently unavailable.

One thought on “Women as Action Heroes: Supply and Demand

  1. Sexist origins all the same, right? The attitude that the female characters won’t sell with boys leads to delayed production or under-production. When you produce less of a thing, the unit price to manufacture the item goes up (i.e., the economies of scale aren’t as pronounced). So you end up bringing something to market, maybe late, where there’s pent-up demand, with a cost basis that compels a higher MSRP, and a smaller supply vs. that demand. Blah.

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