Last week, a day that will live in the hearts and minds of many nerdy shoppers occurred: Force Friday. What the heck does that phrase exactly mean? Well, it was the official release of the first wave of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise. And though to some reading this site, that might seem a bit silly to get excited over, I believe that it was one of the most important days in female nerddom.
As many of you are aware, we at DG have been covering the trials and tribulations of recent franchises such as Marvel’s MCU, Big Hero 6, and Jurassic World excluding a chunk of their audience by forgetting to make merchandise of their female characters, even though some of those leads have proven to be the most popular members of said franchises.
So with that knowledge in mind, and reviewing the available merchandise exclusively featuring female leads Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), I made a point to head out to my local Toys R Us and Disney Story and buy out whatever I could of these two kick butt ladies. I wanted Star Wars, Disney and the toy companies producing the products, to get the message that female characters are important and we (along with many other little girls) want as many versions of them as humanly possible.
My first stop was Toys R Us Time Square. The majority of the Star Wars section was devoted to new male characters Finn and Kylo Renn, along with the Stormtroopers, who were shown with giant life size cutouts around the store. But something was amiss, as I toured around the area several times: there was no Rey or Phasma merchandise to be seen, aside from the more expensive Voice Changing Helmet and Costume items.
In my curiosity, I walked over to an employee to ask if there was anything Captain Phasma left in terms of figures, along with Rey. I was told both characters items have sold out, and I later checked online to see that their items indeed (excluding pre-orders) were gone as well. That was music to my ears.
I then traveled a few shops away to The Disney Store Times Square. Surely they must have some Captain Phasma or Rey for me to take home. But as I climbed the Tangled themed escalators, I found absolutely no Phasma or Rey, similar to Toys R Us, except for costumes and props. I did, however, manage to get my hands on the figure set with the entire new cast of characters, including the two lovely ladies themselves. Though they aren’t posable, at least they are one of the better small figure packs the company has produced in some time. (Have you seen those Princess sets? They’re certainly nightmare fuel.)
When I asked a cast member at the store where the merchandise for Phasma and Rey were, I was given an interesting series of responses. First off, when asking about Captain P, I was told that “Yeah, you know, ’cause it’s the chrome trooper. Everyone wants that one.” And when it came to Rey, “Yeah, she comes with BB-8, so that’s why she’s gone.” And though this employee wanted to dismiss the reason for these two female characters selling out, I regardless think this is a pretty incredible moment.
Sure, I didn’t get the figures I came to for (nor the droids–ha, that’s a joke) but knowing that in a sea of male character-featured merchandise, the only ones that sold out in both stores I went to were the female-featured merchandise, really made my heart pound with excitement. There was a time, when I was younger, that being a little girl who was into swashbuckling adventure that was “geared towards boys” was considered silly and a waste of time. But now, living in a time where a little girl can buy a Captain Phasma costume, and not be laughed at is a great beginning.
Has the problem that started with Avengers and Big Hero 6 been solved? No. But is this a sign of things slowly getting better? We’re getting there, for sure. Of course, this is Star Wars we’re talking about, a franchise that is known for introducing every merchandising opportunity humanly possible. Would they miss making more sales by not producing products of the female leads? Of course not. But the fact that they seem to be the most popular selling characters of the new ones introduced should definitely be saying something about consumer demand. And 5 year old Dalin is very happy about that.
So did you partake in Force Friday? What did you get? Did you skip out? Why? Who is your favorite new character in Star Wars thus far? Write down in the comments below all your thoughts, and May The Force Be With You.