The internet has rightfully been outraged in the last several weeks over the lack of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys featuring Rey. It’s not a spoiler to say she is the star of the movie and the main character who drives much of the action forward. So the fact that she wasn’t part of of many toy sets upset many people, particularly – but not limited to – the parents of young daughters who suddenly had a butt-kicking female protagonist they could emulate.
In the wake of the most recent frenzy, this time centered around a new edition of Star Wars Monopoly, Hasbro said her exclusion from that set was because adding her would have been a spoiler for the movie but that later editions would add her as well. And now a new wave of toys has been unveiled, many of which are either all Rey or at least include her as a prominent figure.
While I don’t want to cast doubt on Hasbro’s motivations, I have to ask if creating Rey figures would really have spoiled anything about the movie before its release.
Rey got just about as much screen-time in the first teaser as Finn, Poe or Kylo Ren. So right off the bat, the marketing acknowledges the character is in the movie. And in the first full-length trailer she alone is seen for the first 30 seconds and is presented as a central part of the story through the rest. It would not be a spoiler to include her, along with Finn and other characters, in a way that displayed her name and in one of the outfits that were shown in the trailer since that was all out there.
I’m confused, then, why toys with Rey weren’t included? If anything, this could have been such a huge benefit to the marketing since it was *not* spoiling anything that wasn’t already public knowledge and would have provided an even better lift to the girls in the audience who were intrigued and wondering, along with the rest of us, who she would turn out to be.
Again, I don’t want to throw shade on Hasbro and will take them at their word that this was a conscious decision. But what I will say is the company fell down on the communications front. If this is really the mindset powering their decision there were plentiful opportunities for the company to be proactive with a “Don’t worry, Rey toys are coming soon!” message that could have been part of press outreach, social media engagement and more comms touchpoints. And that message would not have done anything else to spoil the movie, if that was truly their concern.
Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that there was no “Girls are icky and don’t buy toys.” thinking going on here, the most egregious problem here is communications-related. It’s an unforced error that has caused some damage to the brand that it has had to work harder to counter than it would have otherwise done.