If you find on Friday that your “Star Wars” nerd friends seem a little antsy and distracted, you might chalk it up to the arrival of “Force Friday.” At 12:01 a.m. Friday morning, major retailers are kicking off sales of their new line-ups of toys and merchandise tied to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is set to hit movie theaters in December.
Whether you plan to be out on Friday and scooping up armfuls of action figures or you’re just trying to understand the hype, here’s your guide to the big toy bonanza.
Who is holding Force Friday events? Disney Store, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us and Amazon are all in on the action. The Force Friday madness begins on each retailer’s Web site at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The in-store schedules are a little more complicated: All Toys R Us stores at set to open at midnight. Disney Store is holding midnight events at its stores in New York, Chicago and San Francisco; other Disney Stores across the country will open extra early Friday morning. Wal-Mart will hold midnight Force Friday events at 2,900 of its more than 4,000 U.S. stores. Target will hold Force Friday events at 207 of its 1,799 U.S. stores and has created a tool to help you figure out whether stores near you are participating.
Wal-Mart and Target are holding additional events Saturday morning, theorizing that some parents may not be too excited about hauling their little ones out of bed on a school night to go buy toys.
Many of these retailers are touting exclusive products, so if you’re a die-hard “Star Wars” fan, you might want to strategize your shopping trip accordingly.
What toys are expected to be hot sellers? This is a tricky one. 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 line-up. Laurie Schact, chief toy officer at trade magazine company Adventure Publishing, said she often sees toys many months before their release, but she’s barely seen any “Force Awakens” toys.
That said, Disney Store general manager Elissa Margolis said she thinks the retailer’s line-up of Elite Series die-cast action figures and light sabers will be especially popular choices, as well as some of its role-play items. Wal-Mart’s vice president of toys, Anne Marie Kehoe, told reporters last month that this talking, moving Yoda doll is already “one of our most popular pre-orders in toys in a long time.”
Really? No toy details? Your best bet for sizing up the toys before the sales start is to head over to the “Star Wars” YouTube channel. On Thursday, Disney kicked off a live, global “unboxing” event on this channel, in which merchandise is being revealed over 18 hours in 12 countries.
What’s the urgency around seeing and buying these toys? The movie doesn’t come out for three months! Experts say much of the initial rush will be fueled by collectors and adult fans who are already steeped in “Star Wars” lore. Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toy review Web site TTPM, said that sometimes, superfans aren’t even perusing the merchandise because they want to own it; they’re simply looking for clues about the storyline 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 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.
I don’t remember this happening for previous “Star Wars” roll-outs. Is this new? Indeed. This is the first time that a new “Star Wars” film is being released since Lucasfilms was purchased by Disney. This official roll-out event is a move by Disney to build momentum around the merchandise and the upcoming movie.
I’m reading this at the office while I count down the minutes until I head to the store. Can you give me more “Star Wars” distractions? Yes. You can read more about all things “Star Wars” and “Force Awakens” here: