With sales of Barbie dolls slumping, Mattel is hoping a new lineup of female action figures will win back the hearts of little girls.
The toymaker announced today that it is partnering with DC Comics and Warner Bros. to launch a new franchise centered on teenage female superheroes. The initial lineup will include heroes such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl, as well as prominent female villains, including Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (both of Batman fame).
The collaboration will start with a digital content roll-out in the fall, so girls—and perhaps some boys as well—can become acquainted with the diverse cast of characters as they face the challenges of teenage life and discover their special powers. Then in 2016, DC Comics and Warner Bros. plan to follow up with a plethora of superhero products including TV specials, toys, apparel, books, and more.
In a statement, Mattel president and chief operating officer Richard Dickson said he hopes this “franchise will engage and inspire girls.” No doubt, the company is also hoping the move will help bring back consumers disillusioned with Barbie. The iconic doll accounts for a quarter of Mattel’s overall sales, which have been down for six straight quarters. In January, Mattel fired its chief executive and chairman Bryan Stockton and brought in board member Christopher Sinclair to lead the slumping company in his place.
Last week, Mattel also announced a partnership with social-design site Quirky, which selects and manufactures invention ideas submitted by its community and shares a portion of the revenue with contributors. The agreement would allow Quirky’s members to come up with new toys and products for Mattel brands like Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels.