One of the best things about being a Star Wars fan is the collecting, or, more accurately, the obsessive hoarding. George Lucas really knew how to merchandise, and thus created an entire empire of toys, games, books and basically everything you could ever want with a Wookie or a droid on it. The man was a filmmaker first and a marketer second. As I write this I’m looking at a shelf full of the Kenner Star Wars figures I acquired in the early 80s’ and beyond, and wondering how many new figures I will feel compelled to purchase come Fall. The Force Awakens is hitting theaters in four short months, and in just two weeks the catalog of new Star Wars toys, merchandise and Hasbro action figures is coming on Force Friday.
Toys “R” Us is becoming Destination: Star Wars as part of Force Friday, a special celebration to kick off the Force Awakens toy blitz on September 4th. Toys “R” Us stores worldwide will open their doors at midnight, in an event that is sure to cause some Black Friday style mayhem during the sprint to collect all of the new figures and play-sets. Stores will also host giveaways throughout the event. The real “celebration” however is reserved for the toy giant’s flagship store in New York.
At its massive Times Square location, Toys “R” Us has a day of cool events planned around Force Friday, creating a mini-con of sorts beginning at 9am on the Thursday before. Steve Sansweet, Star Wars author and CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan will be on hand for a book signing and meet and greet, and activities throughout the event include an art class with Star Wars artist Jeff Carlisle, product and gaming demos, LEGO Star Wars workshops, character photo-ops with Furbacca the Furby Wookie, a Light Saber academy and a slew of other interactive, family-friendly events.
Family friendliness is critical, because I’d hate to see these events turn into a contentious fanboy competition like I so often see in the lines forming at Comic Cons and other “exclusive” toy unveilings. Sure, I’ll probably collect a ton of these new action figures for myself, but my kids are also looking forward to them, as I’d expect the children of many of our GeekDad readers are as well. Remember when one of the first things Elliott shared with E.T. was his Star Wars action figures? I hope that same wonder spreads like wildfire through a new generation, expanding their imaginations like the original Star Wars films and Kenner toys did my own. Keep that in mind all of you 30 years and older geeks, before you bum-rush the lines and horde the toys to sell on eBay. I know it’s hard, and I’m going to have to fight that urge as well, but in the end, it will all be worth it.
Now, we just wait, and pay attention to the slow unveiling of this new generation of Star Wars toys to begin. “Patience you must have, my young (and old) padawan.”