Author Topic: Where is Rey?  (Read 3432 times)

Offline Nicklab

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Where is Rey?
« on: January 21, 2016, 06:38 AM »
There's been an ongoing discussion in social media and now the broader media about the relative lack of Rey merchandise at retail over the past month or so.  It came to a significant head when the discussion turned to the Star Wars Monopoly game, which didn't feature Rey as a playing piece in the game.  These licensed merchandise decisions also seem to go against the general narrative of THE FORCE AWAKENS, since Rey is the central character in the film.

Well, check out THIS ARTICLE.  Specifically, these paragraphs about how Rey was not going to be the central focus of licensed merchandise marketing efforts dating back to meetings in January of 2015:

In January 2015, a number of toy and merchandise vendors descended on Lucasfilm’s Letterman Center in San Francisco. In a series of confidential meetings, the vendors presented their product ideas to tie in with the highly-anticipated new Star Wars film. Representatives presented, pitched, discussed, and agreed upon prototype products. The seeds of the controversies Lucasfilm is facing regarding the marketing and merchandising of The Force Awakens were sown in those meetings, according to the industry insider.

The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider.

“We know what sells,” the industry insider was told. “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”

Lucasfilm did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The industry insider went on to describe how excluding female action characters has been a common yet frustrating trend over the past few years. “Diminishing of girl characters is common in the industry. Power Rangers asked us to do it. Paw Patrol, too.” (Update: we’ve learned that Paw Patrol is currently working on a new line of toys for girls.)


If this is indeed true, it gives some insight into the institutional thinking about the marketing of female characters VS male characters.  The fact that nobody would openly go on record is telling as well.  Because it seems more and more like this general discussion about how female characters are represented in licensed merchandise is getting some legs.  This general issue started getting more traction with the REBELS toy line and the relatively light representation for Sabine and Hera.  But now with THE FORCE AWAKENS, where Rey is the focal point?  This is a much bigger deal now.
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Offline JediJman

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 05:04 PM »
I have really mixed feelings about all of this.  On one hand, it feels very discriminatory to me.  If you have a female leading part, but only make toys for the male leads, then that feels wrong.  It's the same to me as only making the white characters versus African American or Asian characters.  We saw a lot of this with the Avengers too where they skipped Widow in various lines, right down to a pack-in where Cap takes her place as the motorcycle driver in a toy when Widow clearly owned that whole scene.  As a collector and a father of a young girl, I find these old-guard decisions to be frustrating and narrow-minded at the very least.

On the other hand, these companies have a right to make whatever they want.  If they have some kind of data or research that has convinced them that their core consumers do not want female action figures/toys then it is absolutely within their rights not to make one. If I was making toys and my research showed that green/blue/red/orange/yellow toys sell great, but purple do not - I'd probably skip making a purple one, even if all six colors where equally represented elsewhere.   I had the Leia figures when I was a kid, but they were among my least favorite vintage figures and I never really played much with them, so I can see where their core "boy" audience today might not be clamoring for female toys either.

In this particular case, Rey is really in many ways the focus more so than any other character.  She certainly has more screen time than anyone else and most of the story forms around her as the central catalyst.  She finds the droid, finds/pilots/fixes the Falcon, saves Finn, brings the map and Han back to the resistance, discovers Luke's saber, Learns the force, defeats Kylo Ren, AND tracks down Luke Skywalker.  As the most prominent character in the movie, it's really tough to understand why they would want to exclude her from the merchandise simply from the self serving aspect of selling more product.  I think it's a bad business move, but not sure where I stand on anything ethically wrong beyond that.
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Offline Qui-Gon Jim

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 05:29 PM »
I can say that generally, my boy identifies with "boy" toys. He knows that the Barbies and Ponies are "girl" toys in the "girl" aisle.  We don't teach him this stuff, but I assume it is a mix of marketing, talking with friends and emulating my excitement over the things I like.  This is a regular topic of conversation around the house.

That said, he's got the Lego Rey Speeder and he loves it.  Would he love a Rey figure?  I dunno.  Rey isn't really a very feminine character compare to, say, Padme. 

Offline Dave

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 06:25 PM »
The part that I don't get is the whole Monopoly piece thing.  I'm not sure how many characters they provide as Monopoly pieces, but lets assume its only four.  Not having Rey be one of those four is nuts. 

I get it that boys buying action figures will generally be less interested in girl characters, but we're talking about board games which I assume are much closer to 50/50 in their gender share.

Maybe it was an easier call to make a year ago when Poe had a larger role and Rey's didn't seem as prominent as it is in the final cut.  But hindsight being what it is, I can't imagine not having Rey be all over everything associated with Star Wars.  As Jman pointed out, the whole movie revolves around her.  She is probably in 80% of the scenes.

Offline McMetal

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2016, 06:35 PM »
I have two daughters and the question for me isn't so much about boys playing with girl figures, but girls playing with girl figures. What if my girls want a 20" Sabine or 12" Hera? If you can't find a way to connect with that part of your audience you're just not trying IMO.

Just like JJ Abrams wanted a diverse cast to represent the world we live in today, I think it's fair to expect equal representation on the toy aisles.

I've never liked the idea of gender specific toys or that kind of marketing anyway. Instead of resigning yourself to "only boys care about these toys" maybe try figuring out a way to engage other demographics too. It's good business and it shows a respect for the property as well as the customer I think.
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Offline 77Skywalker

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2016, 07:49 PM »
I heard this was really just a problem there.

Offline Nicklab

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 08:22 PM »
It's definitely a complicated issue.  For years I had accepted the business concept that female characters just didn't sell as well as male characters.  But I think it was when the Clone Wars animated series came out that this became a more clear issue.  Ahsoka was playing a very strong part in that series.  She developed into a character with some depth that was on almost equal footing with female leads like Padme and Leia. 

This is when the relative lack of product that represented these female characters started to become more obvious to me.  Notably, when I met voice actress Ashley Eckstein at New York Comic Con.  One thing that's been a part of my collection is having actors autograph figures.  Luckily I was able to get an Ahsoka figure for Ashley to sign, but it took some doing.  I shared that story with Ashley, and she told me that she was having similar difficulties finding Ahsoka figures...AND SHE PLAYED THE PART!!!!  She also relayed that other fans had told her similar stories.

Looking at the whole Clone Wars line, Ahsoka definitely did not get represented anywhere near as well as Anakin or Obi-Wan.  Coincidence?  Or by design?  More and more, I'm thinking the latter.  Which is unfortunate, because I think Ahsoka is a great character.  And the fact that she helped make Star Wars more accessible for female fans is a positive in my book. 

I think the lack of representation in the toy line became even more evident with the Rebels line.  Hera and Sabine are both strong characters.  But the figures for their characters are greatly outnumbered by those of Kanan and Ezra. 

I think my outlook has also changed because I have a daughter, too. She's still a little too young for Star Wars.  But eventually I would like to share the movies and tv shows with her.  Having a strong female lead like Rey is not insignificant.  But then I look at the Hasbro 3.75" and 6" figure lines. And I ran the numbers.  There are almost twice as many versions of both Finn and Poe as there are of Rey.  And when you look at the title of the film itself, The Force awakens in Rey.  This really is her story. And knowing that while taking into account this toy marketing plan leaves me feeling like Lucasfilm licensing and Hasbro aren't giving the audience enough credit to recognize whose story this movie really is. 
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 08:22 PM by Nicklab »
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2016, 10:49 PM »
I'm not sure how many characters they provide as Monopoly pieces, but lets assume its only four.  Not having Rey be one of those four is nuts. 

There are 4 tokens.  Hasbro wanted two bad, two good; two OT, two TFA.

OT Bad = Vader
OT Good = Luke
TFA Bad = Kylo

That left one slot - TFA Good.  Poe, Finn, or Rey.  They picked Finn.  I can't really fault them for that based on how far in advance this thing was mapped out.  After all, the promo shots sure made it look like it was going to be a Kylo/Finn saber battle...

If it were a straight TFA Monopoly set and they left out Rey for something like Finn, Poe, Kylo, Han - then yeah, that'd be a bit harsh for Rey. As it stands... I don't see the rage.  :-\
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 10:51 PM by Jeff »
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Offline Nicklab

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2016, 06:07 AM »
As far as the Hasbro 3.75" figure and 6" figure lines, here's the breakdown of what has either been released or solicited to online retail:

FINN
7 x 3.75" FIGURES; 2 x 6" FIGURES
TFA 3.75" Finn - Jakku
TFA 3.75" FN-2187
TFA Armor Up 3.75" Finn - Starkiller base
TFA Armor Up 3.75" FN-2187
TFA Jakku sandspeeder - Finn (pack-in figure)
TFA Millennium Falcon 3.75" Finn (pack-in figure)
WM Exclusive Black Series 3.75" Finn ( wave 3)
6" Black Series Finn - Jakku
6" Black Series FN-2187


REY
4 x 3.75" FIGURES; 1 x 6" FIGURE
TFA 3.75" Rey - Starkiller base
TFA 3.75" Rey - Resistance outfit
WM Exclusive Black Series 3.75" Rey - Jakku
TFA Rey's speeder - Rey (pack-in figure)
6" Black Series Rey with BB-8


POE DAMERON
6 x 3.75" FIGURES; 2 x 6" FIGURES
TFA Basic 3.75" Poe Dameron (X-wing pilot)
Armor Up Poe Dameron (Resistance uniform)
TRU exclusive Armor Up Poe Dameron (X-Wing flight suit)
WM Exclusive  3.75" Black Series Poe Dameron
TFA Black Leader X-wing - Poe Dameron (pack-in figure)
TFA WM Exclusive Resistance X-wing - Poe Dameron (pack-in figure)
Black Series 6" - Poe Dameron- X-wing pilot
Black Series Target exclusive 6" figure 2-pack - Poe Dameron - Resistance uniform
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 06:10 AM by Nicklab »
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Offline JediJman

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2016, 10:16 AM »
The interesting thing about that list is that Poe and Finn have multiple outfits to make figures out of.  Finn is in Stormtrooper armor, then just his black jumpsuit, then the resistance jacket.  Poe has his resistance uniform and flight suit.  Rey, for all her appearances really just wears the same outfit throughout.  She has that Jakku sand mask that comes with some of the figures, but not really an outfit change like the others.  I guess her outfit at the very end after Starkiller base is destroyed is a little different, but realistically there just aren't as many different outfits to make another figure of her.  I actually think Hasbro has made a fair amount of her given this versus the other two characters.  She did get her own ship/figure pack-in and they never seem to want to package a girl with the big ships (Falcon, Avengers Quinjet, etc.).  They maybe could have gone with an armor-up Rey with more salvage equipment or something, but not sure what else they could have made.


I'd be curious to know if this is specific to Hasbro vs. other companies.  In Disney's elite die cast line they have had:

1 Poe (Flight Suit)
1 Finn (Resistance Jacket)
2 Kylo Ren (Full Armor & Removed Helmet)
2 Rey & BB8 (Initial release & 2nd release with lightsaber)

The added Kylo and Rey are fairly small changes versus their initial releases, but given my thoughts on the outfits up above, this seems like a pretty fair release for Rey as well.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2016, 10:27 AM »
They maybe could have gone with an armor-up Rey with more salvage equipment or something, but not sure what else they could have made.

Yeah, that Armor Up assortment is what seems to be throwing off the numbers in favor of the men.  You take the Armor Up figures out and it's 7 Finn, 5 Rey, 6 Poe. Pretty even in my book.

Makes you wonder why there is no Rey in the Armor Up line... especially considering her Jakku headwrap thingy would have been a prime candidate for that.  Maybe Hasbro figured girls are smarter than boys, so they wouldn't fall for the $5 gimmick armor up part like the boy buyers do. :P
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Offline Nicklab

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2016, 10:48 AM »
I think it's possible that the embargo on spoiler generating figures may factor in here.  Disney and LFL went pretty nuts when that Resistance Rey leaked out via SWAN.  At the time that happened, I didn't realize that the movie had yet to be released in China, so that may have been the reasoning behind that embargo.  As for that later release date for TFA in China?  I think that may have been done strategically to prevent piracy of the movie impacting the box office in the US.

I get the Armor Up angle.  But why wouldn't Rey be offered in her own Starkiller Base gear, the way Finn was?  They were both there, obviously.  And the armor that came with that Starkiller Base Finn had ZERO grounding in the film.

As for the outfits?  Rey basically has three different outfits:  the Desert scavenger/headwraps, the basic Rey outfit, and the Resistance outfit.  That's really not all that different from Finn, who also has three outfits, two of which are slight variations.
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Offline JediJman

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2016, 12:16 PM »
As for the outfits?  Rey basically has three different outfits:  the Desert scavenger/headwraps, the basic Rey outfit, and the Resistance outfit.  That's really not all that different from Finn, who also has three outfits, two of which are slight variations.

Not really.  Saying Rey with and without headwraps is two different outfits is like saying Finn in Stormtrooper armor with and without his helmet are two different outfits.  While the black jumpsuit is consistent, there's a lot more to work with across what Finn wears vs. Rey.

       
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Offline Dave

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 12:17 PM »
Nick - thanks for the breakdown of all the different offerings.  I think that is an interesting way to look at it, and certainly a collector focused viewpoint where we care about all the different flavors.

Jman - I agree with you that there are virtually no differences between any of Rey's outfits.

I think Hasbro's biggest failure is not the lack of different versions of Rey available, I think their failure is not having Rey repacked in more cases.  I think they could probably safely pack her (and a Stormtrooper) at least one per case in every case for the first four waves.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 01:58 PM by Dave »

Offline P-Siddy

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Re: Where is Rey?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 12:35 PM »
If Stormtrooper helmet on/off doesn't make 2 figures, then Finn jacket on/off isn't different either (except Hasbro would make a vest and paint the sleeves to keep it cheap.  So really no difference in my opinion.