If your “Star Wars” nerd friends seem a little antsy and distracted Friday, you might chalk it up to the arrival of “Force Friday.” At 12:01 a.m. Friday, major retailers kicked off sales of their new lineups of toys and merchandise tied to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is set to hit movie theaters in December.
Here’s your guide to the big toy bonanza:
Which stores are participating? Disney Store, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and Amazon. The Force Friday madness began on each retailer’s website at 12:01 a.m. Friday, with some also opening their stores at midnight. Many are touting exclusive products, so you might want to strategize your shopping trip accordingly.
What toys are expected to be hot sellers? Just as Disney and Lucasfilm have sought to preserve secrecy around the plot of the movie, they have also worked to create mystery around the toy lineup. Laurie Schact, chief toy officer at trade magazine company Adventure Publishing, said that she often sees toys many months before their release but that she has barely seen any “Force Awakens” toys.
That said, Disney Store general manager Elissa Margolis said she thinks the retailer’s Elite Series die-cast action figures and light sabers will be especially popular, as well as some of its role-play items. Wal-Mart’s vice president of toys, Anne Marie Kehoe, told reporters last month that a talking, moving Yoda doll is already “one of our most popular pre-orders in toys in a long time.”
What’s the urgency around seeing and buying these toys? Experts say much of the initial rush will be fueled by collectors and adult fans who are steeped in “Star Wars” lore. Jim Silver, editor in chief of toy review website TTPM, said that some super fans are simply looking at the merchandise for clues about the story line of the movie. For example, if two action figures are packaged together, they might assume that those characters interact a lot in the film. Or if there aren’t many toys of a certain character, they might assume that the character gets killed off or has only a trivial role in the movie. So you can expect the toys that debut on “Force Friday” will be fodder for plenty of Internet speculation.
This is the first new “Star Wars” film to be released since Lucasfilms was purchased by Disney.