Disney/Pixar’s Brave is now the #1 movie in theaters, and that seems to be a surprise to many but not the team here. Way back in April, we listed Merida dolls on our 2012 Spring Most Wanted list with a warning that stores had probably drastically under-ordered Brave toys. And guess what? The Merida fashion doll from Mattel is now sold out at many locations this past weekend, and Jakks-Pacific has tripled their production of its Brave toys to keep up with the demand.
So why did everyone in the industry (but us) underestimate Brave? There are a few reasons. One, Merida is not a traditional Disney princess. There’s no prince she wants to marry. Even Mulan, who was also a fighter, had a love interest. This departure from what’s expected of a Disney princess probably made everyone wary. And two, Brave was a story not just about Merida but her mother! A lot of heroines in Disney movies have lost their mothers, or the mother doesn’t have as much of an impact as other characters. But take a look at our (slightly spoilery) review of the movie Brave, and you’ll see that this is a story about a mother-daughter relationship. Retailers may have been nervous about these departures from what’s expected. Maybe we weren’t ready for a hero like Merida.
But, as it turns out, we are ready. Little girls and boys are responding to Merida, and the Brave toys are flying off the shelves. It feels good to see America embrace a new kind of Disney princess.