Failed Disney Heroes Never Saw Princess Popularity

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Peter Pan, Hercules, Robin Hood as the Disney Heroes

If there’s anything on the same level as Mickey Mouse, it’s the Disney princesses. They’re almost as recognizable as the brand itself and are responsible for keeping the company going over the years.  Between merchandise and movie sales, the Disney princesses are some of the most popular characters for children. However, Disney once tried to spotlight the male characters in their roster, to no avail.

Disney Princesses Tiana Rapunzel Jasmine Mulan Moana from Disney official site
Credit: Disney

The Disney Heroes was a marketing tactic utilizing characters like Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Prince Phillip, Tarzan, and Hercules to market to boys. Toys ranged from action figures to play sets to other interactive toys. It was a way for Disney to appeal to another audience, even though girls and the princesses already brought the company tons of revenue.

Tarzan 1
Credit: Disney

Unfortunately, the line wasn’t very popular due to a number of reasons. Boys already associated many of the Disney characters with girls’ dolls, and didn’t want to be seen playing with them. The toys also skewed towards a younger audience, so older boys wanted nothing to do with them either. Disney was also competing with franchises like Batman, Power Rangers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles around this time, which had far more popularity with boys than Disney did.

The Rangers in the Command Center n Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie
Credit: Saban Entertainment / 20th Century Studios

Eventually, as Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012, they had a much broader range of films, franchises, and characters to market to boys and the general male audience. Now, Marvel and Star Wars are some of the most popular Disney IPs, surpassing the princesses and drawing massive crowds of fans to the merchandise and to the Parks.

Avengers fight each other in Secret Wars
Credit: Marvel

Disney is no longer just for girls, or just for kids. While the Disney Heroes line was a failed marketing tactic a couple of decades ago, Disney has found major success with their other properties geared towards a more diverse audience. However, fans may still look back on the period that focused on beloved characters like Robin Hood and Hercules with nostalgia as these films slowly fade from modern popularity.

Did you have any Disney Heroes toys as a kid? Share your memories with Inside the Magic in the comments!

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