Is Star Wars The Most ‘Toyetic’ Movie Franchise Of All Time…?
In a word – yes!
If we look at the numbers, Star Wars is easily the biggest toyetic movie franchise of all time in terms of $sales. The original Kenner Star Wars action figures line sold over 300 million units from 1978-1985. And when you look at the fact that Star Wars has routinely been a top 5 ranked toy brand in sales terms for many/most of the years since, it’s hard to disagree with the idea of Star Wars as the most toyetic movie franchise of all time.
What is stunningly impressive though is how Star Wars has continuously stayed relevant and motivating to new generations of kids, despite the decades since the original trilogy, and despite what is generally perceived in movie terms as a disappointing second trilogy (2nd franchise in terms of when launched, not where it sits in the saga to avoid confusion!). Perhaps more tellingly, the last of the 2nd trilogy – Revenge Of The Sith came out 10 years ago back in 2005. Yes there has been some cartoon action since, but that’s not the same thing, and is certainly not enough to keep anything other than this extraordinary franchise as a top toy brand all that time.
This week, I’ve been reliving my youth by watching the original trilogy (I was obsessed with Star Wars as a kid), and what struck me after not having seen these classic films for so long is just how compelling they are. Brilliant plot/universe, great characters, funny and entertaining dialogue, quirky monsters, good versus evil, an array of vehicles, space ships, death stars and different types of pseuedo military units to goggle at, but above all the original trilogy features groundbreaking special effects which still look amazing today decades later. And when you imagine the basic equipment/techniques/technologies available back then, Star Wars truly stands out from that period of time as being way ahead of its time.
Critically for the toy business, most of those features listed add to the toy merchandise opportunities. In fact in several scenes I viewed this week my eyes literally goggled at how many toyetic features there were in the original trilogy. No wonder then that the original toys were way beyond best sellers, and no wonder that such a rich and toyetic movie franchise has continued to perform at retail year after year.
Even if we compare Star Wars with other seemingly toyetic movies we can see that Star Wars stands alone – for instance Toy Story, is in a sense as toyetic as a movie can get since it’s all about toys in a toy box, yet it has a comparatively limited character matrix, moreover the story is nowhere near as complex or as broad as the Star Wars story lines which considerably restricts the opportunities/toy potential versus the Lucas/Disney behemoth!
So yes, Star Wars is in my opinion by far and away the most toyetic movie franchise ever.
And with another movie coming out next month, two more in the 3rd trilogy on the way and spin off movies in between it seems quite possible that Star Wars can yet reach new heights, and might play a pivotal part in driving the global toy industry to record sales levels for the next 5 years or more.
by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight www.KidsBrandInsight.com, a leading Consultancy to toy, game and kids entertainment companies around the world, which helps companies find the right toy & game factories, consumer research test their products with kids and parents and secure export distribution/market entry around the world