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Star Wars & The Toy Biz – The Force Awakens Verdict

STAR WARS & THE TOY BIZ – THE FORCE AWAKENS VERDICT

In this 2nd article looking at Star Wars & the toy business we deliver our verdict on The Force Awakens, and what it means for the toy business.

At the time of writing, The Force Awakens is smashing box office records left, right and centre. Which isn’t particularly surprising when you think of how much this film has been anticipated/hyped.

The first point for us to make is – WOW The Force Awakens really delivers as a movie. It delivers in terms of a one off movie experience, it delivers in terms of authenticity versus the original trilogy and it delivers in terms of setting the scene for the raft of Star Wars movies to come (both sequels to The Force Awakens and spin offs).

As a childhood super fan of Star Wars I can say from a personal perspective that I am very deeply satisfied with The Force Awakens, and as I have told everyone who has had the misfortune to speak to me since viewing it, I believe again! I’m not the only person of my generation who found the second trilogy (in terms of release date) to be hugely disappointing. Well that’s all ancient history now, because now I believe again!

Such personal ramblings aside, from the perspective of the toy industry which has so much to gain from a successful reintroduction of Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens bodes well for the toy industry. In fact I would go so far as to say that the toy industry is going to be reaping the rewards of JJ Abrams fantastic film for some years to come!

I’m not entirely convinced by the plan for spin offs, as that kind of thing can look better on paper than reality, my suspicion is that spin offs like the feted Boba Fett spin off and for that matter Harry Potter spin off movies are risky. Nevertheless though, we’re heading into what looks like at least 5 years of ongoing Star Wars mania, which is huge news for the toy business.

I’m expecting Hasbro to do fantastically well out of both this movie and subsequent ones as the master toy licensee for the franchise, but there are numerous other companies set for a bonanza based on the massive media footprint/impressions created by The Force Awakens. And obviously the ultimate beneficiary is the Disney corporation, because this massively compelling iteration of THE toyetic movie brand must have increased the intellectual property value of the Star Wars franchise way beyond what they paid for it, and when they tot up all the royalty payments heading their way in the near future I imagine the bean counters at ‘Mouse’ headquarters will be mightily happy!

In terms of how The Force Awakens works for toys, aside from the old classic toyetic features like space ships, X-wings, hand held weapons and all the rest, we also have a few new heroes to add into the mix. BB8, the small droid that looks kind of like a rolling football/soccer ball stole the show in terms of being cutesy, funny and plucky. While I’m sure it has challenged some toy designers as it can’t be easy turning that into a working toy, in the end it represents a fantastic new icon for the franchise, while C3PO & R2D2 still had their part to play.

The new ‘baddy’ character – Kylo Ren – has a face mask as did predecessor Darth Vader, as well as a visually striking cross shaped light sabre.  Ren looks set to star in future movies, so expect the crucifix shaped light saber to be back/on toy shelves for some years to come!

Aesthetically, because The Force Awakens relies less on CGI than many sci-fi movies seem to do nowadays, there is more of a real/grainy feel to the backgrounds and sets featured, and more detail to be replicated within the toy world.

The bottom line is that Star Wars as the original toyetic movie is now set to wow another generation…when kids are seeing a Star Wars movie for the first time, you know it’s hooked them when they start saying ‘May the force be with you’ instead of goodbye!

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

Is Star Wars The Most ‘Toyetic’ Movie Franchise Of All Time…?

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