With the perplexing case assortments and character selection of Hasbro Star Wars toys, fans have surmised that perhaps Lucasfilm is more involved in the process than expected. How many of us wondered why a case assortment contains the characters it does, or why other characters get released in every scale and format possible. But now a three-year-old video of Kathleen Kennedy speaking at the “The Most Powerful Women” event for Fortune has resurfaced and interestingly reveals what many have speculated. It is an interesting and illuminating video. And from where we stand it seems to have had an impact on merchandising of the new Disney Star Wars films. Let’s take a closer look at what Ms. Kennedy said.
Back in 2015, about two months before the release of The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was invited to a panel at the Fortune – The Most Powerful Women event. And Kathleen Kennedy spoke at length about her career, women in the industry and also about Star Wars.
The video of this panel has been online for more than three years, but it has fewer than 9,000 views and went by mostly unnoticed. However, it’s been recently rediscovered and is now making the rounds. A link to the video is provided at the end of the article and I encourage you to watch it, it is very informative.
Of special interest to the Star Wars collecting community is the following, which is a direct quote taken from the video:
I think the interesting path we’ve had is the conversation that took place around consumer products, because there were a lot of companies that were in place who frankly didn’t initially feel that Star Wars was for girls. And when you have a company situation where between Lucasfilm and Disney we were all looking at this situation saying, no with Star Wars we have to change this, we have to make sure that we create products that are in a sense appealing to both boys and girls, what’s wrong with that.
So what collectors have suspected for a long time now appears to have weight and some validity: Lucasfilm and Disney are notably involved to tell their licensees (like Hasbro) what to make (and probably also what not to make). If you shop where toys are sold, you likely witnessed endless repacks of Finn, Cassian, Rey and Jyn. While complete supposition, it’s probable that figures such as Rose and Holdo were most likely not Hasbro’s idea. Hasbro is a company which does have decades of experience making Star Wars toys after all, but some of the character selection is presumably made on the insistence of Lucasfilm/Disney.
And unfortunately, we know how all that turned out. Just look at Entertainment Earth’s Valentine Day’s offer for a bouquet of Roses from yesterday.
It should also be stated that Lucasfilm withholds important information from their licensees, as Steve Evans readily admitted when he said that Hasbro only learned about Luke’s outfit on Crait on the day they saw the movie for the first time. Which in turn led to a complete lack of Luke Skywalker (Crait) toys. A TVC figure will be released late in 2019, a Black Series version is likely to follow. However, almost two years after release of The Last Jedi. Similar to what happened with Jedi Master Luke from The Force Awakens who was sold when The Last Jedi toys hit retail two years later.
In light of all this we can now speculate as to why no license extension has been announced yet by Hasbro and Lucasfilm. It may have no relation at all, or it could mean that Hasbro might feel they want to change the terms of the agreement and have more freedom in their decisions, or maybe Lucasfilm and Disney feel that in-house production of toys may give them better control and management over everything. They may feel that a direction like this is the best way to make the Star Wars toys they want to make. Of course, there may always be other reasons as well why no extension has been announced yet. Without more information all we can do is make educated guesses. Please keep that in mind.
Hasbro is due to release their Q4 2018 numbers in the coming week. Maybe we will soon learn who will have the master Star Wars toy license in 2020. it will be interesting to see what transpires, or if the status quo will remain in place.
So, what do you think? Before you type away, it is very important to remember that we do NOT talk about the characters in the movies here and whether you like them or not. Please keep the discussion focused on the creative control of the licensor versus the licensee. We merely talk about the toys and action figures from the movies and YouTube shorts, made for the people who do buy the toys and action figures – and the lack of retail success of certain figures or even entire toylines.
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