The Lair on Storm Isle

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Argentina's Doncellas del Maņana®

2.) Olmec's Butterfly Woman™

3.) Commentary: Toys and Culture

Argentina's Doncellas del Maņana®

What first brought my attention to the Doncellas del Maņana ("Maidens of Tomorrow") action figure line was the figure LadyMar. I couldn't help but notice how familiar her accessories looked. . . . They looked a lot like Golden Girl's sword and Dragon Queen's war belt. I was able to acquire three more figures of the toyline--Andragona (whose name, helmet, and demeanor bear a striking resemblance to Dragon Queen), and fellow villainesses Cibertina and Noctabula. Although some of the figures' accessories seem borrowed from other toylines like Dungeons and Dragons, the unicorn Cabacornius and his chariot are most certainly bootlegged from Golden Girl. Nonetheless, the toyline is well worth exploring in its own right. It consists of three heroines--the point character Star Girl and her loyal friends LadyMar and Cielaila; and the villains Andragona, Noctabula, and Cibertina. Like the characters of Golden Girl's universe, the Maidens of Tomorrow are vividly portrayed, each accompanied by her very own companion creature. Since I had only one semester of Spanish language in college, my translations might be a bit off, but here goes nothing. . . .

Cielaila ("Sky Wings") - Beautiful Winged maiden and inseparable friend of STAR GIRL, she always flies down from the sky accompanied by her loyal puppy JAILOW ("Halo"), similarly winged, to confront the evil maidens. Both are very swift thanks to their precious wings, and they make their home in the rainbow.

Star Girl - The most beautiful and powerful of the maidens, defending the side of good, and the down-trodden. Her magical powers are invincible. Always guiding and accompanying her is her dear guardian angel ARCANGEL. Her shield and staff protect her from the cruel evil of ANDRAGONA, her malicious enemy.

LadyMar (Sea Lady ?) - Beautiful ally maiden, possessing magic and charm. First under STAR GIRL, whom she accompanies in her struggle against the cruelty of ANDRAGONA. Having a mascot, MOOSY, who brings joy, affection, and understanding to every situation. Her shield grants her marvelous powers.

Noctabula ("Night Witch") - Her immense and maleficent powers, even though she is only able to use them during the night, transform her into a formidable foe of STAR GIRL. Always accompanied by vicious animals of the night who protect her and aid her, cruelest among them is VAMPUS, the evil bird that obeys her every command.

Andragona ("Living Dragon") - The most evil and perverse of the maidens. She obtains her evil powers from her dragon-shaped helmet, however without it, she is virtually powerless. Likewise, her living shield possesses magical powers. Her ambition is to be able to vanquish STAR GIRL and by this, to take for herself the command of the other maidens, and of OGRIUS, a creation of hers, a cross between an animal and a machine.

Cibertina ("Cybertina") - Maiden of the saddest past. Sister of LADYMAR, she fell under the spell of ANDRAGONA and NOCTABULA and was transformed into a semi-reptile. She is used against her sister and her leader who are trying to recapture her and turn her back to the side of good. To help her in this quest, STAR GIRL is sending SPANTUS, a small ghost invisible to the eyes of the evil maidens.

Cabacornius (Unicorn) - Handsome unicorn, transports the maidens on their adventures and outings. Spirited and intelligent, never knowing from whence he will land, yet he always appears whenever he is needed. The color of his coat changes with his mood. ANDRAGONA desires to possess him. He is willing to allow her to ride him, but never to make him partake in her evil deeds.

Dino Prack (Chariot) - Enchanted carriage, swift and magical, attaches to CABACORNIUS. It is capable of flight and crossing over time barriers, avoiding any obstacles that might present themselves.

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Olmec's Butterfly Woman™ Figures!

Butterfly Woman™ figures date from 1986, and came out of the vision of Yla Eason's company Olmec, which was dedicated to producing "ethnicly correct" toys for people of color at a time when most toy manufacturers were completely ignoring the interests of ethnic communities. Today, figures from this three-figure line are extremely rare, and mainly survive among doll collectors and toy enthusiasts.

For those of us who may have missed the Butterfly Woman™ series when it was produced, it's worth the search to acquire a copy of one of the figures. Each of the characters is packaged with the mini-comic book titled, "Queen from the Land of the Half Moon," which details the origin story of Butterfly Woman (with translations in both English and Spanish). The writers manage to balance the important need for childhood fantasy, with the reality of the political struggles of peoples around the globe. Princess Amina (Butterfly Woman) is from a parallel world of beings who are part animal or part plant--not the planet Earth, but a moon half bathed in eternal light, and half shrouded in perpetual darkness and ice. The people of Summer Land, her kingdom, were at war with the forces of evil. They were able to triumph only by imprisoning the evil-doers on one side of the moon, encasing them in ice.

The story begins with Amina, a beautiful royal princess with all the magnificent powers of the butterfly, ruling beside her mother, the Queen-Mother of the kingdom of Summer Land. Her magical senses tell her that something grave is about to occur, and that she will be forced to leave her home world for a very long time. To her dismay, Princess Amina learns that the villainess Felina has escaped the dark side of the moon and slipped through a portal to a parallel dimension--to a world called Earth, where she plans to wreak havoc and prepare a future invasion of Summer Land. Princess Amina must take comfort in knowing that her evil half-sister Carlass--the moth woman who had led the great battle against the people of Summer Land--is still securely imprisoned, and thus only one villain is on the loose.

Crossing the portal to Earth, Princess Amina is greeted by Earth's own superheroine--Amandla (her name means "power" in Zulu)--who is a champion against apartheid and injustice. A super-psychic of marvelous proportions, Amandla is able to sense that Princess Amina fights for the forces of good. With her help, Butterfly Woman is able to establish a headquarters and a civilian identity as Amina Drake, CEO of F.E.M.A.L.E., Inc. Together, Butterfly Woman and Amandla must fight for Earth. One day they may be able to recapture Felina, and fulfill the prophecy of restoring light and justice to all of Princess Amina's home world--with the help of a special hero called Sun Man.

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Commentary: Toys & Culture

The very fact that toymakers in Argentina would blend elements of the groundbreakingly feminist toyline Golden Girl™, with their own unique vision of a toyline, says a lot about toys and the cultures of those who grow up with them. As much of a global market as the world has become in recent generations, we do not live in one monolithic culture of a single set of values, backgrounds, social classes, political struggles, or personal needs. The ability of large toymakers based in the United States of America to share ideas to children of various cultures within its own society, as well as to children of a multitude of cultures in countries around the world, is a positive thing when it serves to inspire. However, there comes a point when a toy becomes influenced by the individual experiences, views, and ethnic culture of the toy's creator.

At the time when toys like Princess of Power™, Golden Girl™, and My Little Pony® were being produced, there was little thought to the fact that toys were more than objects of amusement for children, but were invaluable cultural tools--for teaching both about universal social values, and about the heritages which different individuals bring to society. Toymakers have been slow to respond to the opportunity to do more than just represent a few different skin tones in an otherwise Western fantasy setting. Part of the reason for this is the very way toys have been marketed. Having to develop different products for different ethnic groups would be a hindrance to the need to mass-market a single idea to as many buyers as possible. It becomes easiest to take the most profitable route, rather than the road less-travelled.

Nevertheless, the persistence among underrepresented communities--such as with Olmec, Integrity Toys, and other ethnic toylines like Yue-Sai Wa Wa--at producing ethnic and culturally-oriented dolls, shows that the issue will only become a bigger one as children of the 80's and 90's become adults and have to decide what toys--and values--to teach their own children. Just as Golden Girl™ was a step in a feminist direction that went against the grain at the time it was produced, the progress towards change may not occur overnight, however, it will certainly be led by those truly original and creative ideas which inspire creativity in others as much as they entertain.

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