Archive for the ‘WW Miscellany’ Category

Talking About Wonder Woman at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam: A Recap!

April 17, 2017

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I am now home from my five day visit to Amsterdam, and it was such a cool trip. I’m from Halifax, which is one of the oldest cities in North America, but it doesn’t even come close to the history and legacy of Amsterdam and it was so fun to get to explore the city. While I had to keep my head on a swivel to avoid bicycles as I did so because they’re EVERYWHERE, I adapted to that pretty quick and got to see a good portion of the city.

First, though, here’s a hot tip, gang: If you ever get the chance to fly KLM, do it. We flew there and back on KLM, and it was far and away the best airline I’ve ever been on. They give you so many drinks and meals and snacks! Plus there are a pile of good movies to watch. I saw Moana, Arrival, Finding Dory, and Doctor Strange; it was great. So yeah, highly recommended.

The first day in Amsterdam was largely a blur. My mother came with me, because if you ever luck out and get a free trip to Amsterdam and your mother’s never been to Europe, you should take her. Plus she’s a swell lady! Our flight there was an overnighter but we didn’t sleep much, so we ended up crashing at the hotel when we got there, then exploring the area a bit in the afternoon, then more sleep. Or attempts at sleep, at least. Jet lag is rough, folks.

Day two was more exploration. We figured out the metro, which was super easy and convenient, and walked through some of the good shopping places in the city. I didn’t buy much, but I did an ice cream at this rad place called Banketbakkerij Van Der Linde; they only make vanilla ice cream but it’s amazing and there’s always a line up out the door, even on a cool day like Thursday was.

Day three was my presentation, so I mostly went over my notes all day. We had some near-drama when I arrived at the EYE Film Institute and the presentation wouldn’t play; we tried my laptop, then another laptop, but nothing was showing up on the big screen. Everyone behind the scenes at the Imagine Film Festival was super great, though. The technical folks worked like crazy to get everything sorted while everyone else chatted with me and joked about our predicament. I’m still not sure exactly what was wrong, but after replacing the same small box several times, it worked. We started a few minutes late, but everything worked perfectly from then on.

The presentation itself was very fun to do. I always get super nervous before I have to give a talk, but once it gets going it tends to be more pleasant, and this was no exception. The crowd was wonderful, which helps a lot. We had a good number of people in, all of whom seemed very enthusiastic to hear about Wonder Woman, her evolution, and the role of her costume therein. I started with Marston, of course, and dug into the bizarre origins of both Wonder Woman and his own background, psychological and life-wise. Then we discussed the American symbology of the costume and how it was meant to help Wonder Woman fit in and thus help America while slyly spreading Amazon values there as well. We also looked at this great panel:

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Talking about the costume led to a deep dive into her bracelets and the bondage metaphors of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, which segued nicely into an examination of her golden lasso as a symbol of feminine power.

From there, we passed through the Silver Age pretty quickly because her costume stayed largely the same and that was the main focus of the talk. The Bronze Age and Wonder Woman’s mod revamp, however, merited close examination. We looked at the story in which Diana Prince got trendy clothes to help Steve Trevor out of a jam:

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After which Steve started to show interest in Diana for the first time ever and Wonder Woman realized she no longer needed to be super to keep his interest. This introductory issue really set the tone for this whole era, in which Diana gave up her superpowers and got very into mod fashions, all while falling for every man she met and behaving hysterically when they inevitably betrayed her. It was an attempt to make Wonder Woman a more modern, relevant character that failed rather spectacularly.

But it did lead to Gloria Steinem campaigning for Wonder Woman to return to her roots, which was followed by her appearing on the first cover of Ms. magazine and eventually the Lynda Carter television show. The latter was particularly fun to chat about, and I showed a clip of Wonder Woman talking to her sister Drusilla in both of her identities so that we could see how Carter played them differently. We also chatted briefly about her awesome Wonder Woman scuba suit, because how could we not?

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This all was followed by a quick run through the Perez era, the ridiculousness of the Deodato era, and how Wonder Woman’s costume has remained fairly constant since the television show. Any big changes rarely lasted for long, even much hyped alterations like her ill-fated pants and leather jacket in 2010. We looked at the New 52 era as well, which led to Gal Gadot and her onscreen Wonder Woman. It was a film festival, so I wanted to be sure to give her a lot of attention.

The early discussion surrounded Zack Snyder’s brown, desaturated version of the costume which had all of the classic Wonder Woman elements but none of the brightness and vibrancy one would expect from Wonder Woman. We also watched a clip of Wonder Woman showing up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the first time, i.e. pretty much the only good part of that movie. Her general mysteriousness in that film led to some speculation about the character in her new solo film, and I was glad to dig into how Patty Jenkins seems to be embracing color. We watched the latest trailer and dug into how we got a lot of the elements we would expect in a Wonder Woman origin story, including the requisite incarnations of the characters and her corresponding outfits. But we also discussed how her sword seems to have superseded her lasso as her primary weapon:

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And the way that this, intentional or not, is an assertion of masculine concepts of heroism and power over the more classic feminine power represented by her lasso.

Finally, we talked about “Rebirth,” particularly how Rucka and Scott reasserted the importance of the lasso in “Year One.” Talking about Scott led us to Wonder Woman recent, short-lived United Nations ambassadorship, and we discussed the body-shaming petition for her removal and how reducing the character to her appearance ignores what she has meant as an inspirational figure for generations of fans.

So yeah, it was a fun talk! And there were some excellent questions after, which is always fun. My favourite may have been the woman who chatted about the historical reality of the Amazons, which was very cool, but they were all great. Then I got to hang out with the film festival folks for a bit, who were delightful and kind and so enjoyable to visit with.

Day four was the Rijksmuseum; it’s HUGE and took up the entire afternoon, really. I got to see Van Goghs, and Rembrandts, and Vermeers, but my favourite painting of all was this one by Nicolaas Baur called “A Women’s Skating Race on Stadsgracht in Leeuwarden, 21 January 1809”:

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There was a skating race for a gold cap-brooch and 64 unmarried women entered, but some of them were so into the race that they threw off their cloaks and skated bare armed, causing quite a stir among spectators who considered them shockingly immodest. There was such an outcry that it was the last women’s race for several years.

So that was my trip! Huge thanks again to the Imagine Film Festival for bringing me to Amsterdam; it was such a nice city to visit, and everyone at the festival was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who came to my talk as well. It was very fun to spread the word about Wonder Woman on a whole new continent!

Come See Me Talk About Wonder Woman at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam, April 14!

April 3, 2017

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I’m going to Amsterdam! The major theme for this year’s Imagine Film Festival is “Fantastic Fashion,” and they’ve invited me to come give a lecture on Wonder Woman, her costume, and how the character and her appearance have evolved together over the decades. I’ll be speaking at the EYE Film Institute on Friday, April 14 at 6:10pm, and tickets are available now.

It’s a fun topic that I think will make for a great presentation. We’ve got the fascinating feminism of Marston’s early years, the mod fashions of the late 1960s and the subsequent return to her classic look, all of the bizarre attempts to update her appearance over the years that never ever stuck, and of course both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot’s versions of the character. Plus I’ll be discussing both Wonder Woman and Diana Prince, since her alter ego often serves as an interesting counter to her superheroic form. There’s lots of great stuff to dig into, and I’ve been having a lot of fun putting the presentation together.

Beyond my own lecture, the Imagine Film Festival is going to be particularly cool this year. They’re opening the festival with Get Out, Jordan Peele’s hit horror film, and there are lots of other great selections. There’s also going to be a costuming master class from Lindy Hemming, the costume designer for a number of James Bond films, The Dark Knight trilogy, and, most excitingly, the upcoming Wonder Woman movie! The festival is going to have a very strong Wonder Woman focus this year, which is very fun.

I’m glad to be part of this excellent line up, and I’m really looking forward to both the presentation and visiting Amsterdam. I’ve never been to Europe before, and I so appreciate the Imagine Film Festival giving me the opportunity to explore such a beautiful, historic city. It’s going to be an enjoyable journey, I’m sure!

So if you’re in Amsterdam, or the Netherlands generally, or perhaps in a country nearby, you should come to the festival, and in particular to my talk, “Wonder Woman and Beyond.” It’ll be a good time, with lots of informative discussion about Wonder Woman and a lot of fun as well!

Check Out New Book, Wonder Woman Psychology, And My Essay On Marston and Wertham!

March 28, 2017

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There’s a fascinating new book about Wonder Woman set to hit stores next week (though Amazon seems to be shipping it out already in America), and I’m very honoured to be a part of it. Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth is edited by Travis Langley and Mara Wood, and examines Wonder Woman from a psychological perspective through a series of essays, all of them with unique viewpoints and insightful thoughts on the Amazon princess. Travis is a pro at this style of book, having written or edited similar volumes on Batman, Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and more. The psychological angle is an interesting lens through which to view these properties, and one that’s especially fitting for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist, William Moulton Marston, to be “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” and my essay in Wonder Woman Psychology compares and contrasts Marston’s optimistic approach to comic books with Dr. Fredric Wertham’s pessimistic view of the medium. Wertham famously decried the comic book industry in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, and was especially hard on Wonder Woman, accusing her of being a lesbian (no minor allegation in the 1950s) and calling her a “morbid ideal” for young girls.

And yet, despite their very different views on Wonder Woman, the two men had a lot in common. They both believed that psychological principles could make the world a better place, and shared progressive views on many issues. They also agreed that comic books had a powerful potential to influence the youth of America. Their major divergence was their reaction to the medium; Marston sought to harness that potential for good and influence young readers while Wertham sought to protect young readers from dangerous messages that could lead them to juvenile delinquency. Both men are fascinating figures and key players in the history of Wonder Woman, and it was a lot of fun to dig into their histories and discuss them in such a close comparison.

Travis Langley co-wrote the piece with me, which was great. I’m a historian first and foremost, and psychology is not my area of expertise, so I provided all of the history and researched the psychological work of both men as best I could, and then Travis took the baton to the finish line. I was very glad to have someone with his impressive psychological knowledge on board, both to check my own work and add to the piece. It was a fun, easy partnership and I’m really pleased with how the essay turned out.

You can order Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth now, or ask for it at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it ordered already, I’m sure they can get it for you; the series is popular and well known. I heartily recommend picking it up if you’re a fan of Wonder Woman, and not just because of my own part in it! There are lots of great writers delving into interesting components of the character, and there’s even an old biographical piece by Elizabeth Holloway Marston, William’s wife and a key player in the creation of Wonder Woman, which is ridiculously cool and worth the price of admission alone for any hardcore Wonder Woman enthusiast. You’re in for a great read across the board!

New Wonder Woman Movie Trailer Explores Her Origins

March 13, 2017

A new trailer for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman debuted this weekend, and I’m happy to report that the movie is still looking great. We got a lot of new footage in this one, including a decent amount of time spent on Themyscira, and I really liked a lot of what I saw. Now, of course, this is the DCEU; good trailers don’t necessarily mean good movies. But so far, Wonder Woman has been hitting it out of the park and that has me cautiously optimistic about the film.

Warner Bros. describes the video as the “Origin Trailer” and thus we got a good look at the Amazons. They remain super bad ass and cool, and I like the design of the island and the Amazons themselves a lot. We also get some flashbacks, including a peek at a young Diana who is just adorable:

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I’m hoping we get a few scenes with her because she seems cute and fun.

Little Diana is staring at the “god killer” sword there, and I do remain irked at how much attention the sword is getting. Wonder Woman’s never been a character who wields a sword until very recently; she’s got a golden lasso that she’s rather famed for, and I wish that’s what young Diana was eying rather than a sword. To me, sword fighting just isn’t who the character is. But I was pleased to see the lasso play a key role as the trailer progressed, including this rad takedown:

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Hopefully Wonder Woman’s real weapon gets its due throughout the movie as well.

On top of that lasso scene, we got a bunch of other cool action shots too. I think Wonder Woman is going to have some epic fight scenes. Everything we’ve seen so far looks very cool, and Wonder Woman’s fighting scenes in Batman v Superman were easily the most entertaining part of that movie. All of the action clips we’ve seen thus far in Wonder Woman trailers look exciting and well-shot, and it’s going to be a blast to see the full scenes.

One thing I’m particularly glad to see every trailer has included is humour, and this new one is no exception. Gal Gadot’s fish-out-of-water Diana shtick looks like it should be entertaining, Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor seems good for some wisecracks, and Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy looks like she’s poised to steal the whole show. I liked her trying to dissuade Diana from carrying her sword in public:

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The humour in DCEU movies hasn’t been great, at all, and it’s nice to see some genuinely funny bits  are coming with Wonder Woman.

Finally, the trailer appears to confirm the daughter of Zeus origin story. Hippolyta ominously tells Antiope that Diana “must never know the truth about what she is,” which sounds like it might be a Zeus-related secret given this lightning display later on in the trailer:

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I don’t care for the Zeus origin at all. I much prefer the clay origin, in which no men are involved and Diana’s origins are distinctly female and feminist. Making her a demigod who gets her powers from a man is boring, dumb, and kind of misses the point of the character. I’m hoping it’s not a huge point of focus for the movie, and that Zeus doesn’t come up too much.

So yeah, Wonder Woman looks pretty great. And in ways that seem to be addressing how DC’s other movies have been not at all great, which is encouraging. This could be really cool. And we’re less than three months away now! Can you believe it? Wonder Woman’s finally getting her own movie! And just when we need her the most.

Happy International Women’s Day AND A Day Without a Woman!

March 8, 2017

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Today is International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere while also acknowledging the systemic oppression they continue to face across the world. As always, I’m celebrating International Women’s Day with the women that I’ve written books about: Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and now Catwoman!

All three women could definitely get behind this year’s official theme on the International Women’s Day website, which is #BeBoldForChange. They explain:

Each one of us – with women, men and non-binary people joining forces – can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

The United Nations celebrates International Women’s Day as well, and their theme for the year is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.” The UN has a variety of goals for their 2030 Agenda, including:

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

It’s a bold list, to be sure, and one very much worth pursuing.

This year, the folks behind the fantastic Women’s March last January are getting in on the International Women’s Day fun as well by holding “A Day Without A Woman” to recognize the value of women. It’s a three pronged event which you can support in these ways:

  • Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  • Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  • Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

Some people can’t take the day off, of course, which is why it’s great to see that they’ve got a solidarity option. Wearing red is a clear and simple way to express your support for women across the world, and our three comic book heroines are definitely on board.

Wonder Woman’s been wearing red since her very first appearance in 1941. It’s her go-to color choice for bustiers and boots, as we can see here at the end of her debut in All-Star Comics #8:

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Lois Lane’s commitment to wearing red goes back even further, to her own first appearance back in 1938. She was wearing red at the office when Clark Kent asked her on a date:

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And she was wearing red later that evening when a goon tried to dance with her. She wasn’t in any mood for it; she didn’t even want to be out with Clark, much less have some other dope get all up in her space:

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While Wonder Woman and Lois Lane have been showing solidarity for ages with their red outfits, Catwoman’s never been much for red. She’s worn a lot of black and purple, and even green and orange at times, but red has never been her primary color. She has used it for accessories, though. In Batman #210 in 1969, Catwoman debuted a new pair of red goggles:

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The outfit didn’t last for long, but the red has recently returned to the lenses of her goggles, as we can see on this cover from last year’s Catwoman #48:

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She’s subtle about it, but Catwoman’s on board for “A Day Without a Woman” too!

Happy International Women’s Day everyone, and cheers to all of the women participating in today’s general strike as well as all of those who can’t but who are nonetheless showing their solidarity!

Wonder Woman Movie’s Mattel Figures PLUS Build-a-Figure Revealed at Toy Fair

February 21, 2017

Toy Fair 2017 was this weekend in New York City, and it provided us our first official look at Mattel’s upcoming Wonder Woman movie action figures. We saw some action figure/doll hybrids last week that were very cool, but these are the official 6 inch action figures that are part of DC’s larger “Multiverse” line. And they look good! There are only four of them plus a larger “Collect & Connect” figure you can build with parts that come with each of the primary figures, but there is some fun stuff in the mix.

Let’s take a look at them, thanks to the excellent reporting of Toy Ark; it’s my favourite toy news site, and their coverage of Toy Fair was great as always this year. We’ll start with Diana on Themyscira:

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We’ve seen a blurry picture of this toy before, which didn’t do it justice. This one looks very cool, and is a solid likeness of Gal Gadot. Plus it’s got a lot of points of articulation, which should make her easy to position in rad action poses. The only accessory appears to be a sword; I’d like to have seen a lasso as well. But still, I like it.

Next up is Wonder Woman in a cloak:

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I’m guessing that they did this cloaked figure because the “Multiverse” line has already released a standard Wonder Woman figure as part of their Batman v Superman run. Rather than duplicate that, it seems that they decided to go with this slightly different take. I understand the why of it, but this is sort of weird figure. The cloak is going to get in the way of doing anything cool with it, and it doesn’t appear to be removable. It’s kind of a bummer that they went this direction with the only proper Wonder Woman figure in the line; I’m worried this is going to be the trench coat Batman of the line, i.e. the figure every store in America has 472 of because NO ONE buys it since it’s just a superhero in a coat.

Hippolyta, however, looks amazing:

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First, how great is it that we’re getting a Hippolyta action figure? Plus she’s dual weaponed! We get a sword AND a spear. The sculpt looks great as well, and the cloak doesn’t seem nearly as cumbersome as Wonder Woman’s. I’m excited to pick this one up, and for Connie Nielsen’s Hippolyta in general; I can’t wait to see her on the big screen!

Next up, good old Steve Trevor:

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I remain underwhelmed by the texture, coloring, and all around look of this figure. It feels too action figure-y, if that makes any sense. The rest have a touch of realism to them, but this one looks kind of flat all around. I’m glad we’re getting a Steve, I just wish it was a little more detailed and capture Chris Pine a bit better.

Finally, all of the parts included with each figure add up to Ares:

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This is our first decent peek at how Ares will look in Wonder Woman, and it’s not bad. It’s got touches of the classic, Perez-style Ares with the darker, more ominous angle that’s characterized the DCEU movies thus far. I don’t know if I love the helmet, but I can see how it might look cool on the big screen. I’m curious if there’s a face in there or if it’s all just helmet. The figure also comes with a red sword and a shield, which is fun. Though in my mind, Ares should have a proper long cape; I’m too steeped in Perez comics not to want to see that!

So overall, it’s a cool line. Diana and Hippolyta are the standouts for me, and the Ares is kind of cool. I’m not sold on the cloaked Wonder Woman and the Steve is a bit underwhelming, but they could both still be cool. Only four figures is a bit of a letdown, though. Perhaps we’ll see more in another wave. I’d love to get an Etta Candy, and the movie’s take on Dr. Poison looks rad and action figure worthy. Keep your eyes peeled for the figures; they should start to hit stores later this spring.

More Wonder Woman Movie Toys Revealed, And They Look Super Fun

February 15, 2017

We got an illicit look at a couple of action figures from the upcoming Wonder Woman film a couple weeks back and they were intriguing, but now we’re getting some official images of upcoming Wonder Woman toys. And they’re kind of awesome! Mattel’s got a full line that looks to be a mix between and action figure and a Barbie; the figures are poseable and have the joints you’d expect from an action figure, but also have the hair and clothes you usually get with a doll. Entertainment Weekly had the first look at the toys, and let’s run through them now.

First up, we’ve got a fully armored Wonder Woman:

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I don’t know that the resemblance to Gal Gadot is spot on, but it kind of looks like her. And getting the full array of weaponry is very cool. I’m definitely interested in this one.

Next is Diana in her Themyscira garb:

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This one is fun as well. Also, I’m impressed with the braid; I hope it holds, because if it comes undone I have no idea how to rebraid it! The bow looks a little dinky in terms of scale, but arrow shooting action is pretty rad.

This one is a lot like the first one:

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But without all the extra stuff? It’s a cheaper, bare bones figure, I guess. It does retail for $5 less.

Next up we get Diana in her formal wear:

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This is from the scene in the trailer where she has the sword hidden in her dress, and apparently you can do the same with this figure. Glamorous AND dangerous!

Hey, there’s one with a majestic horse:

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It looks like the first figure, plus a cloak and a dang horse! This might be the best deal of the bunch, really. You get the Wonder Woman figure and all of the accessories as well as a cool horse for her to ride on. It’s only $29.99 too; that’s a deal. I proclaim this the bargain of the bunch!

Hipployta’s got a horse too:

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Hers is white, and also majestic. She’s also got her own unique weapons and armor, just like Connie Nielsen in the movie. This is pretty rad. I love that there are going to be Hippolyta toys! And even better, she looks really cool. I may end up getting the horse pair, really. Mother daughter horse adventures!

Finally, a two pack:

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Steve and Diana, in their island garb. Chris Pine’s even got a wool turtleneck. And it looks like the Diana figure is a version of that second figure, but with a cloth outfit, which is neat. I like this set.

Entertainment Weekly also lists a bunch of accessories you can get, like a sword, Nerf bow and arrow, and a tiara. They are probably kid sized instead of grown up sized, which is a bummer; the sword looks rad. But that’s how toys go. Dang kids, getting all the fun.

With Toy Far just around the corner, I expect we’ll see even more of the Wonder Woman toy line this weekend, including the rest of the action figure line we got a peek at two weeks back. I’m going to go broke, gang. There’s just too much cool stuff.


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