Mattel really is one of the worst-run toy companies around today. Though their product is good, they still seem to be laboring under an early '80s mentality: primarily that endless repetitive variations of your main characters are better than new figures and that toys of females don't sell in boys' lines.
When I was younger, the TMNT figure that I kept searching for was April O'Neil. Before that, the GIJoe I always wanted (but never found) was Scarlett. I wondered why, if there were dozens of Transformers with distinct personalities, none of them had ever been built and programmed as women. Yet boys don't want female action figures? Screw that noise.
This unfounded assumption lives on happily in the halls of Mattel. Though they did, amazingly, release Wonder Woman in the first series of Justice League figures, Hawkgirl was completely overlooked until now.
Shayera Hol was an undercover detective on her native planet of Thanagar. While pursuing some criminals who were trafficking in forbidden technology, she was zapped by a dimensional transport beam. When she awoke, she found herself on an uncharted planet called Earth. Using her survival training, she adopted a human identity and learned to blend in with the native population. Although Shayera hopes to return to Thanagar someday, she has developed a strong bond with the people of Earth. As Hawkgirl, she uses her Thanagarian powers to serve and protect her adopted home.
After Green Lantern, Hawkgirl caused the most uproar in the fan community: why, if we'd seen Aquaman on the Superman cartoon, wasn't he in the League? Why Hawkgirl - why not Hawkman? If they just wanted another girl on the team, why not use Black Canary? Everybody seemed to have some problem with Shayera.
Yes, the creators wanted another woman on the team, so Aquaman was out. Hawkgirl brought a sort of warrior fury to the League that Black Canary couldn't; much like the birds that are her motif, she can be fairly sweet and subdued, but the minute a battle starts her instincts take over and she's tearing the badguys apart. Wonder Woman is a supermodel, aloof and regal - Shayera is one of the gang, the (Hawk)girl next door.
Hawkgirl's red, yellow and green costume is a nice representation of her comicbook roots. Rather than the silly Silver Age helmet worn by that era's Hawkgirl, the modern version has a more stylized sweeping headpiece. Her wings are (probably) not organic, though we haven't been given any conclusive evidence one way the other in the cartoon. The figure's wings are not articulated, but they do look perfect.
Hawkgirl got overlooked in the first two series of "Justice League" figures, but we finally got her. Her distribution is a bit weird, though: originally shipping in August 2003, she was exclusive to Diamond Comics and Target stores; beginning in September, however, she was available to all retail outlets. Rather an odd choice, but I'm just glad Mattel made sure everybody got a chance at her. Eventually. Months late. When retailers were no longer interested in the line.
Hawkgirl is articulated at the Big Five, just like all the DC Animated figures. Just like the first series of Justice League figures, Hawkgirl has an ugly, useless base: hers doesn't have any of the "JUSTICE LEAGUE" letters, so it can go on either end or in the middle. More flexibility for Shayera. She also has the mace she's used to bash in the heads of many an alien threat - the first Justice League figure to come with an accessory! The Hawks, in the comics, always had a connection to ancient civilizations, and the mace was just the type of weapon they'd carry into battle, so giving the JL Hawkgirl a high-tech version is just smart.
It's too bad Mattel couldn't get its act together at the outset, but at least they're doing better now.
Will Mattel ever wise up? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.