#ForceFriday: The Star Wars Toys Awaken

It’s been almost three years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and, most importantly, the Star Wars franchise, from George Lucas, and since then the sci-fi staple has only been getting stronger. As Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine.”

 

And while the franchise’s legacy in film and media is well documented, spawning hundreds of “Extended Universe” novels, comics, video games, cartoon series and even one widely-panned Holiday Special, Star Wars’ clout in merchandising is perhaps unmatched. From traditional action figures to Legos to remote control droids, the films have never passed up an opportunity to put its mark on merch. It wasn’t the films themselves that proved a goldmine for Lucas, after all—when 20th Century Fox agreed to make his 1973 space western, Lucas turned down an extra $500,000 for the licensing and merchandising rights to his films.

 

Today, much like Luke aboard the Death Star 2.0 in Return of the Jedi, the world got the chance to witness the might of a fully armed and operational battle—excuse me—merchandising station in the form of Force Friday. Today, fans flocked to their local toy stores to get their hands on a completely new line of Star Wars products, whose on-screen avatars will be making their debut in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, premiering December 18th. Action figures inspired and voiced by the actors gave fans a sneak peek at dialogue from the film, leaving all of us to speculate on what “I’ve had a pretty messed up day” could tell us about the interminable battle between good and evil.

 

 

Before we head out to the stores ourselves to grab what hasn’t been ripped off the shelves, we wanted to break down some of our favorite Star Wars merch, from today and a long, long time ago.

 

Remote Control BB-8 by Sphere

 

 

The Undeniable Winner of Force Friday is this remote control droid who makes its debut appearance in The Force Awakens. Using your phone, you can set it to patrol mode to keep an eye on things while you work, or, if you want to take the wheel—or sphere—play around in Drive mode, where you can interact with the world via a number of pre-programmed beeps and whistles. As BB-8 quickly ascends in the hierarchy of Star Wars droids, one has to wonder if the feisty R2 will take such a slight lying down.

 

Kylo Ren Lightsaber

The big bad in The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren has managed to infuse an old staple with new life, and his three-pronged lightsabe was the first thing many fans talked about in the original teaser trailer. Every kid has, at some point, been envious of the friend who got one of these for his or her birthday, in Darth Vader Red, Luke Green or Mace Windu Purple. And with rumors that Luke’s original lightsaber is a key feature in Episode 7, it seems as if these toys will never go out of style.

 

Star Wars Jerseys

While not specifically merch that appeared today, nothing quite speaks to the everlasting cultural appeal of Star Wars like when it crosses paths with America’s pastime. Minor League baseball teams, never the type to shy away from “alternative” promotions (http://www.foxsports.com/southwest/lists/top-12-craziest-minor-league-promotions-081014), jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon back in May with a number of teams sporting themed jerseys in honor of May the 4th, otherwise known as “Star Wars Day.”

 

 

By far, the best tie-in belonged to the Altoon Curve, whose game even featured a Lightsaber Battle backed by live fireworks.

 

While most of these jerseys were only available via auction following the game, there’s still plenty to be found at your local toy store. And if you can get your hands on one of those BB-8 toys? We’ll turn it over to the Empire’s finest for an appropriate reaction:

 

Cover Image courtesy of Levent Konuk, via Shutterstock

 

 

Kevin Echavarria is The San Jose Group’s Manager of Global Content and Digital Innovation who spent his fair share of allowance money on Star Wars action figures growing up. You can check out his website here.