The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger says the lack of official merchandise inspired by breakout Star Wars character The Child — best known as Baby Yoda — is a “good thing,” because making the design available to product manufacturers months ahead of the premiere of The Mandalorian would have spoiled the character’s reveal for audiences. Jungle Scout, an independent research tool based on Amazon products, previously determined Disney missed out on upwards of $3 million in sales by not having Baby Yoda merchandise ready for the holiday season, but Iger stands by the decision to oblige series creator Jon Favreau's wish for secrecy:
“We didn’t tell anybody about that character’s presence in the series, or even the first episode,” Iger said on The Star Wars Show. “I know a lot has been said about the Christmas season and everybody wants to buy The Child toys and et cetera and so on, and they’re not really out there. That’s because if we had given the design out, it would have gone out to hundreds and hundreds of people, probably all over the world, and we didn’t want to do that.”
“So people will have to wait,” added Iger, “which I think actually is a good thing in this case.”
Disney is now preparing a line of The Child merchandise for release in early and mid-2020. Products to be released by partner Hasbro include action figures, mini-figures, and electronic plush toys, with the official Disney store releasing its own soft-version plush in March.
The company is story-first, Iger added, and Disney has “never set out to tell a story simply because it can become a toy or a game or a consumer product of some sort.”
“In many respects, if you think about what happened with Star Wars when it first came out in the ‘70s and [what] Lucasfilm did with lightsabers and Darth Vader helmets and et cetera and so on, what you’re really doing there by creating those goods is you’re bringing the storytelling to life in a different way,” he continued. “You’re enabling people who enjoyed the story in the first place — particularly kids — to engage with the story in a different way.”
Favreau previously revealed it was actor and musician Donald Glover — who Favreau directed in Disney's reimagining of The Lion King — who inspired him to hold off on revealing the identity of “The Asset” until the character was discovered by the titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) at the end of the series' debut episode.
“We were talking about music and pop culture and he was saying that what people really like now is to be surprised, because it doesn't happen that much,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. "When Beyoncé did an album, she would just put it online and everybody would react to it. Just putting it out there spurred a conversation that would become more viral and bring more genuine attention than any marketing.”
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