The Mandalorian producer Jon Favreau explains why there aren't any Baby Yoda toys available right now. With the Disney+ original being the first live-action Star Wars TV show, there was always going to be a palpable buzz surrounding The Mandalorian, which debuted on the streaming service last week. Just two episodes into the first season, interest in the show has increased exponentially thanks to instant fan-favorite character, Baby Yoda. The infant member of Yoda's species (who has a proper name yet to be revealed) is without question The Mandalorian's breakout star, as viewers debate his role in the story and adore his cute antics.
As evidenced by the Ewoks, BB-8, and Porgs, the Star Wars franchise is well-versed in winning audiences over with cute characters, and Lucasfilm gets ahead of the curve by producing plenty of tie-in merchandise featuring them. That makes it curious why Baby Yoda was nowhere to be seen when the first wave of Mandalorian products hit store shelves for Triple Force Friday back in October. But according to Favreau, it's all part of the plan.
Speaking with ET, Favreau talked about the decision to keep Baby Yoda under wraps during Mandalorian promotion, crediting the higher-ups at Disney for going along with the idea:
“I have to thank Disney and Lucasfilm, because the way the cat usually gets out of the bag with that stuff is merchandising and toy catalogs and things like that. So they really back us up. We really wanted to have it be that you had to watch it yourself, so that every time you watch the show, there are new twists and secrets that come out. That requires a lot of restraint from the people who are footing the bill, saying they’re gonna hold back on certain things so that the public doesn’t know ahead of time. Part of that was holding back on some of the merchandise and holding back on some of the characters.”
UPDATE: According to a new report from CNBC, Baby Yoda merchandise, including apparel and accessories, will be available from certain retailers in time for the holidays, possibly even as soon as Friday. The retailers include the Disney Store, Amazon, Zazzle, Target, Macy's, Kohl's, Hot Topic and Box Lunch according to CNBC's source.
On one hand, it is nice to see Disney show some restraint, allowing one of their most prominent creatives to see his vision for the project through. The studio very easily could have forced Favreau to play ball and incorporated Baby Yoda into the marketing campaign. At the same time, an argument can be made keeping Baby Yoda hidden for so long was a big mistake. Not only did the cat get out of the bag shortly after The Mandalorian premiered, Disney cost themselves a golden merchandising opportunity for the holiday season. That Baby Yoda is in The Mandalorian isn't necessarily a jaw-dropping spoiler; there are bound to be much larger reveals about him in the upcoming episodes. Disney intentionally handcuffed themselves for no real reason.
Surely, everyone involved with The Mandalorian is aware of the fan response and knows there's a large demand for toys, collectible figures, and more. Those will most assuredly come out in due time, though undoubtedly some Disney executives are probably wishing there were Baby Yoda products out right now. There's something admirable about the studio choosing to do what's best (for better or worse) for the story Favreau and company were attempting to tell, but there's no denying this was a baffling business decision. When Baby Yoda merchandise comes out, The Mandalorian's first season will likely be long over. But even if Disney can't strike when the iron is hot, they'll still make a killing off of what's to come.
Update source: CNBC