Disney on Tuesday unveiled a new gallery of toys based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Rey, hoping to quell criticism from fans who say that the film’s lead hero has been notably absent from its merchandise. But will these new offerings be enough to put Rey on par with her male counterparts?
Compared to the film’s male characters, Rey still may be lagging behind. Last week, Huffington Post Australia questioned Southern’s claim that toys featuring Rey and Captain Phasma “feature prominently across hundreds of products.”
[A] cursory look at retailers’ online stores suggests otherwise. We searched “The Force Awakens” in Disney’s online store and only found 27 items involving Rey out of a total of 146. When we performed the same search on Target’s website, which features items available in stores as well as online, we only found 17 products including Rey out of 267 (not including a couple items without a detailed photo). On Toys “R” Us’ website, Rey is even harder to spot, only appearing in 10 out of 254 “The Force Awakens” products.
The Huffington Post also noted that Rey’s villainous counterpart Kylo Ren shows up more often, is featured more prominently on packaging, and is more likely to appear in group toy sets with other characters, most of whom are also men.
While Hasbro is stepping up its game, Rey’s continued exclusion from many other toy licensees’ sets is noticeable.
Jakks Pacific’s Star Wars line, for example, consists entirely of male characters, with the exception of a single Captain Phasma doll. Many of the male toys are variations of generic stormtroopers and other faceless soldiers. Many fans have pointed out this seemingly odd production decision.
Me: Can I be an action figure? @Hasbro : Quarter Portion! Finn: Can I be an action figure? @Hasbro : 100 Portions!
In response to criticism over Rey’s absence from products like the new Monopoly set, Hasbro has said that it was trying to avoid spoiling key plot points, including Rey’s Force sensitivity and lightsaber duel with Kylo. Lucasfilm is said to have placed strict and unusual limitations on the kinds of toys that could hit shelves prior to the film’s release.
But Hasbro and other companies had many options that did not involve spoiling the movie. The action-figure company declined, for instance, to produce figures of Rey flying the Millennium Falcon, an activity shown in numerous trailers.
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.