Big Hero 6: The four-year-old’s verdict (and the merchandising)

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(For my review of the film, pop over here)

Children are often a peculiar mix of heart-stopping fearlessness and weird phobias, and mine is no different. Although given half the chance she’d be an unrepentant square eyes for huge periods of the day, she’s very up and down about new films and tends to be a bit wary of the cinema. This weekend, I tempted her into a viewing of Big Hero 6 using popcorn as bribery and the promise of a little reward afterwards if she was brave; it was also our opportunity to use a Yo! Sushi voucher we’d be given for a themed meal, and she was already proudly wearing a yellow GoGo Tomago wristband.

These were her reactions:

“That was funny when that robot hit that man in the face!”
“Wow!”
*waves her arms around dramatically* “I’m being GoGo Tomago – like on my bracelet!”
“Imagine if you could fly like that, Mama…”
“Is ‘Lemon’ Honey’s last name?”
*lots of giggles*
“I thought that was really COOL!”
I’d primed her that she could look away or duck out if it got too much for her, but she only dived into my arm once, for less than a second, at a close up on the villain’s slightly creepy kabuki mask.

Afterwards, we popped into the Disney Store, where she chose a small Honey Lemon figure to play with (not the one below). I’ve mentioned before that the women of Big Hero 6  are in general more diverse and widely represented than in previous films; having my daughter play with in a brave, kind Latina scientist who is applauded for what she does, not how she looks, feels good. Casting an eye over the shelves was also reassuring – although Frozen and Marvel superheroes were at opposite ends of the store, all the Big Hero 6 merchandise was together, female and male characters mixed up, with the women shown in action poses on the packaging. I was pleasantly surprised to find a journal set with Honey Lemon on the cover that wasn’t sequinned or pinkified. GoGo’s doll figure was sold out this time, but I’ve seen it before with properly built up leg muscles to reflect both her animation and the fact that she’s a runner and cyclist. When you visit the website, the t-shirts and pyjamas are simply labelled “for kids” (and FYI Disney, this adult would LOVE a Baymax t-shirt if you’d consider sizing up in the UK and not just the US; maybe not this one though, given my proportions…).

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Disclaimer: This was just a family day out, but the Yo! Sushi kids’ meal was courtesy of the screening goodie bag at which I first saw the film.

Reflections on Ramona: 23 months (The Disney Edition)

Honestly, I’m not sure how much this is going to be about Ramona and how much this is going to be about shopping. All of this happened today, so it’s all kind of rolled into one in my head, and I don’t have the inclination to separate it into two posts.

You can cut straight to the shopping if you prefer – it’s where the photos start. First, Ramona:

My tiny Pickle is not so tiny anymore – of course, she hasn’t been for a while. I’m occasionally blindsided by how weird it isn’t to have proper conversations with her, and this week we even had to start introducing the idea of naughty steps and consequences for bad behaviour that haven’t really made sense before. As with most children she is blissfully angelic and unconscionably demonic, generally within the same ten minutes. As I often say, I wouldn’t swap her forthright knowledge of what she wants, and her determination for getting it, for any kind of deferential wallflowery, but it would be lovely if she didn’t turn the former on me quite so often…

Biting is occasionally becoming an issue where it never was before, and after a particularly painful one in the middle of a tantrum today I got seriously miffed. Rather than stay in the room and lose my temper, I plopped her down, summoned her dad and left to cool off. I still felt bad, because I know it was a punishment for her to be separated from me (how arrogant that sounds! But that’s motherhood for you…), but I thought that was better than me behaving like an idiot in her presence. I came back down after a few minutes, she apologised, we had a massive cuddle and talked about why we don’t bite, and all was well.

And actually, that was the low point in what was a really impressive day for her. (Here’s where the Disney stuff starts too). We popped to Westfield, and she does love to visit the Disney Store, but last time we had to tear Mickey from her vice-like grip and cart her, wailing, out of the House of Mouse. This time, I did some preparatory groundwork, talking about not touching, only looking, and not being able to take things home. I was still prepared for a possible meltdown, but none came. She padded about happily, keeping her sticky paws to herself, identified her various friends – “Mickey! Daisy! Don-old! Goo-feeee!” – and was then content to leave after a few minutes, with a smile on her face. We rode up and down some elevators, and she even let me do a bit of shopping…

So, the upshot is I now have five Uniqlo / Disney t-shirts. It started with the bow one I wear in the photos on this very blog, and then I bought another four today. In my defence they are just £7.90 each, and fit me really well. They’ve got a really long body, which I often find is a huge problem with t-shirts – I had to stop buying from Threadless, because they looked like they were cutting me in half as I’m both tall and generous of belly – and the designs are a little bit more like what you get in Disney Parks, than what you get in the Disney Store. They’re also quite generously sized. I’m an M&S 14, and I comfortably fit the Medium.

Here they are:

These two are from the Uniqlo Uncovered range. They’re very slightly longer, and have a textured background colour, and you’ll find them on hangers in the shop. They also have “Uniqlo Uncovered” in smallish caps across the upper left hand side of the back of the shirt.

These two are from the standard Uniqlo Disney range, which you find on the shelves. Lots of these designs come in a range of background colours (for example, the lemon yellow Minnie bow one I’m wearing in the photos is also available in pink, as is the blue t-shirt in this photo).

And here’s me looking like a classic doofus in the mirror in the Snow White one.

In spite of my enthusiastic acceptance of the WDW ride’s overdue retirement, I still have a lot of love for Disney’s first feature length film, and I’m a sucker for a castle.

(The teapot necklace, by the way, is from Jelly Button Jewellery, which I absolutely love).

Naturally, the quirky attention to detail is typical of both Disney and a Japanese brand, and extends even to the delightfully cheesy labels:

Between every once upon a time and every happily ever after lies a fabled kingdom of art and imagination. Journey to this magical place, together with Disney and UNIQLO, and discover the charming characters, faraway places and treasured artwork of the world’s favorite storytellers. After all, you’re never too old to believe that dreams really do come true.

Love it. Love it all. And I especially love how it’s easier and easier to be a Disney fan and get the news and the fun stuff without actually being able to afford to go to WDW (I don’t love that last bit so much).

To top it all, Ramona started singing along to It’s a Small World today, though she’s loved the song since she was tiny. I actually started crying, to Ash’s amusement.

There are probably people out there who would be absolutely horrified that I was so pleased and proud, but I think I can cope with their disapprobation.

And now, back to our scheduled messages.

I am finding that I’m enjoying the toddler phase quite a lot more than I thought I would, while at the same time finding it terrifying and stressful and exhausting. I just really like being able to get to know Ramona’s personality now that she’s showing it in spades. She keeps me on my toes, bringing up things I thought she’d forgotten or not understood, and thoughtfully repeating back to me what she thinks about it all.

We occasionally find ourselves at loggerheads, but I am determined to make sure to do my sworn duty as a parent and behave like the (literally) bigger person. I won’t let it drag on, I won’t just get tangled up in being a grumpy bugger and I will always be sure to end the day with stories, snuggles and cuddles. The last thing she hears every night that I’m the one to put her to bed is “I love you”, and I tell her about a million times a day, as does Ash. To have her unexpectedly pootle over from her blocks or toys and give a hug and a dazzling smile before announcing “I yuv you!” cuts straight to the heart every time.

Plus, to my completely biased and inexpert mind, the kid is absolutely freakin’ brilliant when it comes to speaking. I do wish I could erase “I want…” from her vocabulary, but with prompting she is aware of the uses of “please” and “thank you”. She gets jokes, such as when I pretended there was a monster behind me and it turned out to be her, and runs around shouting things like “Mummy thought it was a monster but it was you!” (she still generally mixes up “me” and “you”, endearingly). She’s not quite so brilliant with names of relatives she doesn’t see often, but then neither am I. That’s when you get a situation like this:

Ouma, pointing at Auntie Linda: “Ramona, who’s that lady?”
Ramona: “Uncle Bernard.”

Which has a brilliance all its own, frankly.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get my head around having a two year old, but it ought to get all straightened out in my mind by this time next year.