Since Disney released Star Wars The Force Awakens, Star Wars toys have been the biggest kids on the block. They have reigned supreme at Walmarts and Toys R’ Us’ around the world. Now a new report from the website Bloomberg, is giving us a look at what might be the norm for toy aisles for the next few years.
Toymakers betting big on movie tie-ins are losing out. For the first time in a few years Star Wars was not number one on the top toy list for the year. Even with a new Star Wars film, Star Wars toys finished in second place in 2017. It did however win out the nine week Christmas holiday time frame, but just couldn’t win the whole year.
Call it “Star Wars” burnout, or better yet “movie fatigue,” said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Hollywood and toymakers have fixated on toy-friendly films at a time when kids are increasingly turning to YouTube, Netflix and social media for entertainment.
The site points out that adult collectors are still buying Star Wars items, but kids are losing interest. Lucasfilm released Star Wars: The Last Jedi this year, but some in the industry think that the film didn’t feature enough new characters to justify the sales. “U.S. sales of the brand’s toys slowed in late 2017, Drew Crum, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote in a note to clients last week. This was despite “Last Jedi” being the top-grossing film released in the U.S. last year at $596 million.”
Another issue that has hurt sales was Toys R’ Us’ plan to file for bankruptcy. Toys R’ Us represents about 15% of the market, so this news may caused some consumer heartburn.
Ultimately the answer for increased sales may come down to simple marketing. Toymakers should look to 2017 as a lesson of the importance of marketing. Just because a movie has a toy tie-in, doesn’t mean it is as good as sold as it hits the shelf, especially if no one knows about the toys.
“There is a new paradigm,” Johnson said. “Just because there is a movie with a toy tie-in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work. It used to mean it would work.”
What are your thoughts? Do you collect Star Wars toys? Do you buy them for your kids? Leave your thoughts in the appropriate places…