Star Wars was out in Force today (see what I did there?) to celebrate the kick-off of the Force Awakens campaign. We’re about four and a half months away from the release of the next installment of the Star Wars saga and Disney clearly wants everybody to know about it.
The Disney Store, Toys-R-Us, Target, and Amazon all had special events lined up to celebrate Force Friday. Toys-R-Us and Target both opened their doors at midnight to crowds eager for a few commemorative trinkets and the first crack at new toys, while Disney Stores opened at 6am with a slew of family-friendly events such as an R2-D2 craft, story time, and a card game give away. Sadly the biggest bashes featuring celebrity guests were reserved for a select few locations in major cities, but I’m always a sucker for midnight release parties.
While it was an enjoyable experience, it was rather unfortunate that Toys-R-Us had only a few of each item in stock. I know companies do this on purpose to generate buzz and reinforce a sense of value, but it was a poor way to repay the loyalty of customers who spent two hours in line.
The excited atmosphere maintained through the wait evaporated quickly as all but the first few people in line were greeted with mostly bare shelves; the store allowed each person to take three of any character, and those at the front of the line didn’t hesitate to fill their carts to the disappointment of everyone behind them. I heard several people in line comment that they were just buying a few things they weren’t even sure they really wanted, because all the items they’d come for had been taken and they didn’t want leave empty-handed after spending so much time in line in the middle of the night. That’s not an effective way to hype people for the launch of new merchandise.
Still, I hope Disney keeps up the theme of big release parties for major Star Wars events. With a just a little tweaking to ensure a more positive experience for everybody, it can be a very fun way for Star Wars fans to meet and play for a few hours.