Star Wars movies aren’t the only element from the franchise that can rake in billions of dollars. Ever since the infamous Kenner “empty box” action figure campaign in 1977 (where fans mailed in a voucher to receive the toys at a later date), Star Wars merchandise has been a goldmine for manufacturers, giving fans an opportunity to bring their favorite characters home and play out further adventures of their own. But Star Wars 7 has generated some controversy when it comes to the lack of products featuring one of the film’s standouts.
Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who in essence is the movie’s lead protagonist, has been oddly absent from a majority of the Star Wars 7 merchandise blitz. An action figure of the heroine was released as part of the Force Friday initiative, but since then, the Jakku scavenger’s been hard to come by. This point has been hammered home by the #WheresRey social media tag where consumers illustrate how difficult it is to find the fan-favorite in stores.
Things reached a boiling point recently, when Hasbro’s latest version of Star Wars Monopoly excluded Rey. The game came with four playable pieces: Finn, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi, and Darth Vader. Even though the board game was meant to span the saga’s complete history (and not Episode VII directly), many took issue with the fact that Rey was left out. After all, the game came out during the peak of Force Awakens mania, and Rey has quickly become one of the most popular characters in the whole series.
Hasbro’s reasoning for not including Rey (they did not want to spoil key plot points from The Force Awakens) was perceived as lame by many fans, even as the company promised more Rey merchandise would be coming in the future. With more and more people joining the #WheresRey movement in light of the Monopoly issue going viral, Hasbro has now changed their tune and will include her in a new edition of the game, coming later in 2016.
This development should please many, since it shows that the merchandise companies are listening to the wants of their customers and are making an active effort to deliver the best product possible. Yes, it can be argued that Hasbro should have included Rey in the Monopoly game all along, but at least they’re not just turning a blind eye to the issue. The decision to put Rey in the game should prove to be beneficial in the long run, since items featuring the character have sold very well. There will most likely be great interest (especially amongst youngsters) in playing as Rey when families settle in for game night.
Under the new leadership, Lucasfilm is making a concentrated effort to promote diversity in blockbuster filmmaking. They’ve accomplished so much already via casting decisions, and they intend to hire a woman director to helm an upcoming Star Wars film at some point in time. With that in mind, it’s nice to see that the studio’s merchandise partners are taking the steps to join Lucasfilm in this regard, making sure there’s equal representation with their products. Rey has become a hit with both men and women fans, so it only makes sense for her presence to become more prevalent.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han SoloStar Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.