In case you live in an internet-free cave, ‘The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda has conquered the world. Fans were immediately smitten with the pint-sized alien when he first appeared in the first episode of the Disney+ series. Disney racked up 10 million subscribers when it launched last month, and that was just in the United States, Canada, and The Netherlands. Australia and New Zealand have since gotten the service, but it is still rolling out slowly around the globe. But even in places where ‘The Mandalorian’ isn’t yet (legally) available, Baby Yoda has invaded the zeitgeist in a big way, and fans are clamoring for merchandise bearing the likeness of possibly the cutest being ever.
Shirts and some other bits of merchandise are now available. (Warning, I just got my Baby Yoda tee from Box Lunch and while there was a hologram sticker on it, swearing that it was officially licensed, it looks 100% bootleg!) Disney held back on licensing Baby Yoda (or “The Child” or “The Kid” as he is referred to on the show) because it didn’t want his likeness to leak and ruin the surprise when he was revealed in the first episode. But what are fans supposed to do? Christmas is just weeks away and everyone wants a Baby Yoda toy of some kind under their tree.
Funko has released images of their upcoming The Child Pops, which will come in the basic size as well as in 10″ form. Mattel has released an image of an upcoming plush toy. But the Funko products won’t be out until May, and Amazon already sold out on pre-sales! (They’re available again, but don’t lollygag!)
I get that pre-orders are the way the world works now. I have tons of Pops on pre-order. But I think Disney could have really scored by going super Old School. Back in 1977, when ‘A New Hope’ was released, there weren’t toys readily available. No toy company wanted the license for starters, until Cincinnati-based Kenner bit. But they didn’t have enough time to get the toys out in time for Christmas that year. And no one was prepared for just how massive ‘Star Wars’ was going to be.
We’re kind of facing the same issue this Christmas. No one knew that ‘The Mandalorian’ would be such a huge breakout hit (it’s the most in-demand show available now), or that Baby Yoda would become the most meme’d subject this side of Taylor Armstrong (‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’) screaming at a white cat.
In 1977, Kenner came up with a unique marketing idea that could have been a flop, but was actually pretty genius– the ‘Star Wars’ Early Bird Box.
While parents… I mean Santa Claus, couldn’t deliver actual ‘Star Wars’ toys by Christmas ’77, they could deliver an empty box, which doubled as a display diorama and a certificate that could be mailed in to secure the first four ‘Star Wars’ action figures– Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca– which would be mailed as soon as they came off the production line.
I mean, yeah, it was an empty box, but it at least gave a promise that the recipient would be among the first to receive the toys. Funko or Mattel or Hasbro could have easily sold MILLIONS of empty Baby Yoda “Early Bird” boxes if they’d gone that route.
Sure, if you pre-order your Baby Yoda swag on Amazon, you’re still guaranteed to get them, but this way, fans could have had something physical to unwrap, and the Early Bird box would be a fun memento on its own, especially if, like the original, it doubled as a display diorama.
What do you think? Would you have bought a Baby Yoda Early Bird Box?