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Rovio announces Angry Birds Stella: Harmless fun or a patronising stereotype?

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially if she's fluorescent pink and covered in feathers. Rovio has pulled the cloak on its next step in its mobile gaming money maker: Angry Birds Stella.

Taking the fuchsia bird character previously seen in the Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds GO! instalments, the new chapter is a direct appeal to female fans of the franchise. Angry Birds Stella will not only have its own game, but animation, toys, books, and a whole host of other merchandise to boot.

The announcement was made on the official Angry Birds Stella Tumblr blog, with the ominous title "Best Friends Forever... Most Of The Time." Whilst Rovio itself has carefully avoided circumscribing Angry Birds Stella to a purely female market, it has touted "inspiration, empowerment and other real issues" as its main themes.

"Angry Birds Stella is breaking the mould by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix," said Rovio's chief executive Mikael Hed. "The Angry Birds Stella story will live and evolve across physical and digital, bridging them in fun and innovative ways."

Still, for a game that seeks to "empower" young girls, the mascara drenched bird brains have raised a few eyebrows online. The Angry Birds franchise is classically universal, with men and women of all ages drawn in by its addictive game play and varied characters. Creating a Stella spin off clearly draws young girls away from that original series into their own specially designated "pink" zone, constructing a gender barrier that divides the Angry Birds audience.

Specific products and a release date for the new game have not yet been announced, but rumours abound that the new characters will feature in the first Angry Birds film. Rovio has pencilled in a potential release date for the birds' cinematic début as 1 July 2016.