‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Director J.J. Abrams Calls Lack of Rey Merch ‘Preposterous and Wrong’
The great franchise toy saga continues, as J.J. Abrams has weighed in on the absence of Daisy Ridley’s Rey from much of The Force Awakens merchandising. The new lead character of the Star Wars franchise isn’t featured in nearly as many toys and merchandising as her male counterparts, inspiring the Twitter hashtag #WheresRey. And following Paul Feig’s reveal of new Ghostbusters action figure prototypes, it seems more crucial than ever that we criticize Disney for their lack of Rey merch — and Abrams is doing just that.
While there are a few officially licensed Rey toys, the character has been noticeably absent from action figure variety packs and much of the merchandising / toys aimed at kids. Just last week, Hasbro offered a lame excuse and apology for not including her in a new Force Awakens Monopoly set.
The Wrap caught up with Abrams following a panel at the TCA press tour, where the director remarked:
It seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well-represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the ‘Star Wars’ world, in terms of merchandising.
Preposterous, indeed. Abrams went on to reveal that he immediately took action when he heard about the Monopoly situation:
‘I read that she wasn’t in the Monopoly game and was quickly making phone calls,’ Abrams said. He addded, with some sarcasm at the end, ‘It doesn’t quite make sense to me why she wouldn’t be there — she’s somewhat important in the story.’
This isn’t the first time Disney has failed to adequately include a major female character in their merchandising — fans were rightfully disappointed last summer when it was difficult to find Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in Avengers toys and play sets, sparking the #WheresNatasha hashtag on Twitter as consumers tried and failed to find the character in stores.
While companies like Diamond Select and Funko offer Rey and Black Widow toys, the officially licensed products from Disney (which are more cost-friendly) are seriously lacking in the leading lady department. Not only is the company neglecting a huge portion of their fan base, but they’re telling consumers that these characters — no matter their prominence in the film itself — are not as important as their male counterparts, and reinforcing the outdated stereotype that blockbuster franchises and action figures are for boys. Not to mention, they’re screwing themselves over and missing out on some easy cash.
Thank goodness for Paul Feig, then, who recently revealed prototypes for Mattel’s six-inch Ghostbusters action figures, additionally promising that the company will offer many types and sizes of figures from the film, with manufacturers like LEGO and Funko also planning their own Ghostbusters toys and figures.
Perhaps more important to note is that Disney is on the precipice of having the highest-grossing film of all time, worldwide, with a movie that features a woman and a person of color in leading roles. Maybe that’s worth considering?