We get it. Star Wars is wildly popular in some circles. Others, not so much, but by and large, this sequel has been the most anticipated sequel for years. It seems to be one of those things people either love or hate. There’s few “meh” responses. The characters are what is the mystique and beauty of the Star Wars dimension, from the kind to the funny to the brave to the evil. Fans love to collect Star Wars Memorabilia. Of course Chewbacca makes the list, but highly promoted female protagonist “Rey” could be a bit harder to get your hands on — in fact, you may not be able to get your hands on anything depicting her, particularly figurines, at all.
Why? Nobody’s too sure. When the super store chain Target came out with the six pack of figurines, Chewbacca and a fighter pilot were on the list — but no Rey, and Rey had been so very advertised and celebrated. Fans were quite disappointed.
The Force may be awakening, but it is awakening with the hashtag #WheresRay surfacing all over social media, according to Fusion. With good reason — she is very highly prominent in all advertisements, but strangely absent and hard to find from toy shelves. Some retailers are quick to brush it off — remember the Cabbage Patch and Pound Puppy shortages of the 1980s? They were impossible to find or keep on shelves, particularly at Christmas. Of course, the question was always if the demand really outweighed the supply that much, or if an artificial demand was created in order to create more public excitement, greater demand, greater chaos, and greater sales. The answer may lie somewhere in between.
However, Disney assures fans that no artificial demand for Rey occurred — it just happened because people wanted more of her than was expected. Of course, the great news is that Rey, a female, so therefore a minority, is very sought after. That’s what Disney says that they hoped for — to celebrate and recognize diversity, not just with women but with minority ethnicities; characters like Finn and Captain Phasma were meant to represent a new Star Wars crew that appealed to nearly every segment of society – and they certainly have, according to sales.
Retailers like Toys “R” Us say they were woefully unprepared for how popular Rey would be or how fast she would fly off the shelves. Toys “R” US spokeswoman Jessica Offerjost claimed that their stores did carry Rey and other female Star Wars characters initially. Their scarcity, Offerjost explained, was because of unforeseen popularity. That’s a great sign for Disney and Star Wars, but it also causes one to wonder why nobody saw it coming. Isn’t that what market analysts do?
Paul Southern, the head of Disney’s Star Wars licensing arena, told Bloomberg that neither Disney nor its licensing partners came anywhere close to predicting how popular Rey would be. Again, that’s interesting, when she has been so prominently featured in advertising and many fans are female.
“We’re working really hard to get into a healthy stock position. All of a sudden a very broad group of consumers began to buy product a lot quicker than we expected.”
Maybe that’s true — after all, male action figures have dominated the sales industry for decades. But times are changing, many areas of the United States have more females than males, gender rules are more fluid, and some people prefer genderless icons for their children.
Still, it’s Christmas, and where is Rey? Will people monopolize her for exorbitant sums on eBay? Will you be looking for Rey this holiday?
[Image by Lucasfilm]