weekly roundup — January 8th

I start­ed my week by read­ing an arti­cle in Bloomberg about Dis­ney’s princess busi­ness switch­ing from Mat­tel to Has­bro. Mat­tel had a series of mis­steps with its treat­ment of Dis­ney princess prod­ucts, and Dis­ney final­ly took its busi­ness else­where. Last year, two-thirds of the Mat­tel senior staff resigned or was fired (Mat­tel lost the Dis­ney princess­es in late 2014). Has­bro has reworked the princess­es to be more true to their ani­mat­ed char­ac­ters, includ­ing paint­ing on faces, mak­ing the waist­lines (very slight­ly) dif­fer­ent, and tak­ing the dress­es back to what they were meant to be. A cou­ple things stood out to me in this arti­cle. First, it’s very impor­tant to know your mar­ket. Dis­ney did­n’t under­stand that kids (and their par­ents) want­ed princess stuff until an exec­u­tive went to a Dis­ney on Ice show and saw lit­tle girls in hand­made princess dress­es. Sec­ond, it’s impor­tant to pay atten­tion to your client and make them feel heard and val­ued. The arti­cle is full of cring­ing moments where I found myself wish­ing that Mat­tel had done any­thing else. Excel­lent read.

Speak­ing of Dis­ney and Has­bro, the #Wheres­Rey deba­cle has been fas­ci­nat­ing. Has­bro may be doing right by princess­es, but their treat­ment of the female pro­tag­o­nist in Star Wars is just ter­ri­ble, and their excus­es fee­ble and hol­low. This post dis­cuss­es how Rey is a role mod­el as much for boys as she is for girls.

Some­thing else Dis­ney is doing is build­ing a Star Wars fran­chise to last the ages. Wired wrote about how the last Star Wars movie won’t come in our life­time. Star Wars is fol­low­ing the com­ic book style of uni­verse-build­ing, with lots of options for side sto­ries and hav­ing char­ac­ters devel­op inde­pen­dent­ly and togeth­er. (Also, I learned a new word — para­cosm — so that’s excit­ing.) It’s the same thing that the big stu­dios are doing with Mar­vel and DC, inter­twin­ing sto­ries and build­ing fran­chis­es to explore char­ac­ters and ages and lands. It’s an excit­ing thing, but at the same time, I like being able to just ingest sin­gle sto­ries or movies with­out need­ing to know a lot of exter­nal infor­ma­tion. On a side note, I may get more into Star Wars. Carl cer­tain­ly wants me to, and he has a list of books for me to read if I’m inter­est­ed. So there’s that.

Get­ting away from Dis­ney entire­ly, I also read about envi­ron­men­tal activists that went after a ship that was egre­gious­ly and ille­gal­ly fish­ing. The arti­cle was a fas­ci­nat­ing look into a world of very deter­mined peo­ple (on both sides). The envi­ron­men­tal­ists pur­sued the fish­ing boat for over 100 days and 10,000 nau­ti­cal miles. I care about the envi­ron­ment, but their lev­el of car­ing is so beyond what I can com­pre­hend.

Games! This week, I played Bang the dice game, Aton, Roll for the Galaxy, and Five Tribes solo:

  • Bang (the dice game): I love Bang with cards, and I was skep­ti­cal about the dice, but it turned out to be sur­pris­ing­ly fun. See­ing what peo­ple chose to keep or not gave away stuff about their roll that might not be read­i­ly appar­ent in the card game. Good par­ty game.
  • Aton: 2‑player game, play­ers place mark­ers in tem­ples to try to score points. Sim­ple con­cept, easy to learn, and it’s a good mix of luck (draw­ing cards) and strat­e­gy.
  • Roll for the Galaxy: I played Race for the Galaxy a cou­ple years ago with a friend, and I was excit­ed to try the dice ver­sion. With my strat­e­gy, I end­ed up basi­cal­ly not need­ing to roll dice at all, which was kind of strange. The friend I played with said he thinks there’s actu­al­ly less luck in the dice game than in the card game. I enjoyed the game and want to try it again.
  • Five Tribes (solo game): Days of Won­der released rules for a solo ver­sion of Five Tribes! It pits you against the sul­tan (con­trolled by a pair of dice). The sul­tan racks up a lot of tiles, and it ends up alter­ing the game strat­e­gy. There are four lev­els of win­ning (and mul­ti­ple ways to lose), and I won but did­n’t excel. I enjoyed the game, though one of the rea­sons I play games is to play them with oth­er peo­ple, so I’ll keep this for when I’m absolute­ly dying for a game and can’t con­vince Carl to oblige.

I’ll start post­ing these ear­li­er in the day on Fri­day instead of after busi­ness hours. As it stands now, I’m sure they get lost among the week­end posts.