Let's say you're a girl. And you've just gone to see How To Train Your Dragon. And you really liked the character Astrid, the girl Viking who is the best dragon fighter in the training class. (Hiccup is better, but he's cheating, he knows Dragons don't like eels, and he knows they are trainable.)
Astrid is pretty, she's strong but feminine, she's smart, everything a little girl would like to be (one hopes.)
So you go to a Walmart with your parents, intending to pick up an Astrid figurine, and maybe even the rest of the characters - both the boys and the dragons...
And what do you see? The only character not available is Astrid!
Well, you decide maybe you'll get an Astrid t-shirt. You can't even do that. But there is a T-shirt with brother and sister Vikings Tuffnut and Ruffnut. (Ruffnut being the girl.) Tuffnut has his sister in a headlock and appears to be giving her head an Indian burn. The text on the T-shirt? "Only the strong can join!"
So what is this saying - "hey girls, don't you dare try to get involved in baseball, football, fencing, playing with us guys when we play "How to train your dragon," because you're not strong enough?
I find this all infuriating. It reminds me of a few years ago, when the last Pirates of the Caribbean came out, and all the toys that accompanied. There was a series of notebooks, with Jack Sparrow and WIll Turner. But Elizabeth Swann, in her really, really cool Chinese armour outfit? No - she doesn't appear in the series at all!
Having said that, I've just checked Amazon and there are a couple of Elizabeth Swann action figures. So that's something at least.
Nevertheless, back to the notebooks. I like buying notebooks, and what I'd really like to do is buy notebooks with female role models on them. And you can get Wonder Woman covers, but that's it. There's a Batwoman, Batgirl, The Invisible Girl, Black Widow...plenty of female characters they could choose, but they don't. It's Batman, Superman, a variety of other characters, but only Wonder Woman for the girls.
But for the younger movie-going audience, for the 4 - 8 age group that probably loves How To Train Your Dragon, there's no Astrid to be found.