Last fall, Twitter was flooded by angry ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ fans using the hashtag #wheresrey, bemoaning the fact that Daisy Ridley’s character Rey was missing from so much merchandising. Things came to a head in January when Hasbro was bombarded with complaints over the omission of a Rey playing piece in the ‘Star Wars: Monopoly’ game. (Hasbro plans to add her to upcoming editions.) This followed a similar uproar over ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, particularly a toy jet/motorcycle which replicated a big action sequence from that film, but swapped out Black Widow for Captain America. (Both film franchises are owned by Disney with toys by Hasbro.)
Some (anonymous) sources report that Disney execs specifically instructed licensees to omit Rey from merchandising. If that is true, fans have every right to be outraged. But it sounds like the problem is the overall perception of ‘Star Wars’ as strictly a boy brand and a miscalculation on Disney’s part regarding who would be the breakout character.
John Marcotte, the founder of NPO ‘Heroic Girls’ which promotes positive role models for girls and young women, says he spoke to insiders and it sounds like Disney simply threw everything behind Kylo Ren, expecting him to be the character audiences went nuts over. Marcotte says:
“I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters. They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of. Now they’re stuck with vast amounts of Kylo Ren product that is not moving, and a tidal wave of complaints about a lack of Rey items.”
This is echoed by Jim Silver, the CEO and editor of toy review website TTPM.com, who stated:
“We assumed Kylo Ren was going to be the next great villain.”
Over the years, Darth Vader merchandise has vastly outsold merchandise featuring any other character by at least three to one. It sounds like Disney expected Kylo Ren to be the next Vader, but that hasn’t quite happened.
Though not mentioned, from personal observation, out of the focal characters Finn is the biggest peg-warmer. So clearly there was some miscalculation in that regard as well.
Another reason why it might be hard to find Rey toys and such? Because she IS popular and fans, male and female, are simply snapping it up. A representative for Target stated that Rey merchandise is performing “exceptionally” well– selling out as fast it could be stocked in some cases.
Have you been able to find all the Rey merchandise you’ve been looking for? Or are you upset that there still isn’t more?