May 24, 2017
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Faces Toy Backlash As Film Crosses $1 Billion Mark

This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Christmas holiday was especially kind to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest installment of the long running Star Wars saga. According to CNN Money, Star Wars The Force Awakens added more milestones to its already impressive list of accomplishments. Star Wars: The Force Awakens claimed the highest-grossing second weekend of all time, the fastest $1 billion gross, both mantels claimed from Universal's nostalgic blockbuster, Jurassic World. With the highly anticipated release in China still looming, analysts predict that Star Wars: The Force Awakens could cross the $2 billion mark, a feat accomplished only twice before.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is more than just box office magic. According to CNBC, the clamor for Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise helped the toy industry achieve double-digit growth in containerized toy imports in 2015 after modest single-digit growth in 2014, and consecutive declines between 2011 and 2013. Disney's "Force Friday" launch campaign in September 2015 created stoking interest in the new merchandise.

Yet, for some, a dark cloud hangs over Star Wars: The Force Awakens meteoric rise. While the narrative of Star Wars: The Force Awakens focuses on three characters to varying degrees, one character is undeniably the central focus, Rey. Yet many fans and media outlets claim that Rey has been left out of most of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise, especially the coveted action figures.

According to Salon, the trouble began when fans notices something strange about a six figure Star Wars toy pack sold exclusively at Target. The pack featured male co-stars John Boyega (as Finn), Oscar Isaac (as Poe Dameron), and Adam Driver (as Kylo Ren), but not Daisy Ridley (as Rey). Instead, the all-male pack includes Chewbacca, an unidentified Stormtrooper, and an unidentified First Order pilot. Daisey Ridley's likeness was also missing from Hasbro's Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon set. Several scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens feature Rey piloting and repairing the Millennium Falcon, and she seems to inherit ownership of the iconic spaceship at the end of the movie.

Enraged fans took to Twitter to vent their frustrations, creating the hashtag #WheresRey to highlight the missing heroine.

This isn't the first time Disney and Hasbro have been accused of pushing female characters to the sidelines. Scarlett Johansson (as Black Widow) appeared in very little Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise, including an action figure set representing one of her pivotal scenes in the movie. Zoe Saldana (as Gamora) was similarly missing from most of the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise. But, unlike Black Widow and Gamora, Rey is the protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the only potential Jedi in the film.

To be fair to Disney and Hasbro, there are Rey action figures. In fact, the 6 inch, die cast Rey and BB-8 combo pack is almost sold out on Amazon. According to Buzzfeed, Rey merchandise was always part of Disney's plan for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but were always scheduled for release after the December 18 premier, three months after the "Force Friday" launch. Disney cites concerns over spoilers. The Rey action figure comes with the iconic Skywalker lightsaber, which is given to Rey during Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Still, with Disney's history of pushing the Disney Princess line, but leaving less traditional female protagonists in the dust, some fans are reluctant to take Disney's promises at face value.

[Image via LucasFilm/Disney]