An alleged Star Wars toy insider claims the shine on Baby Yoda or Grogu might have fallen following the release of The Book of Boba Fett. And not only has the shine fallen from Baby Yoda, but Star Wars toys in general are no longer considered the cream of the crop.
Disney insider WDW Pro shared a statement from this alleged toy insider to Twitter, which was also shared to Bounding Into Comics.
The insider notes that following the release of the first season of The Mandalorian demand for Baby Yoda merchandise was high and “for about two years those Baby Yoda shipments were a nice bandage on the Star Wars section of the business plan, plugging holes of a leaky ship.”
Baby Yoda Merch in Trouble? Grogu’s Demand Going Down?
Prepare for a very deep dive into the toy industry from a highly placed exec in a major partner with Disney. Some news sources give you vague predictions — this is NOT that.#grogu #babyyoda #starwars @ValliantRenegad pic.twitter.com/j3pre6rrGS
— wdwpro (@wdwpro1) December 14, 2022
However, the veneer on Baby Yoda has appeared to wear off as the insider claims that Disney overshipped Baby Yoda merchandise and retailers were not able to actually sell the product.
He explains, “Yoda ships were way too high for the pick-up, way too high to the point of initiating retail clean up for some of the weaker extensions. Novelty stuff too.”
The insider went on, “Generally pick-up is very low right now. Remember, Baby (which was the internal lingo, “Baby”, for some reason the word “Yoda” was avoided), Baby is not an evergreen – matter of fact, Star Wars Inc may no longer fit certain definitions of the term! Monopoly is an Evergreen.”
Not only did this insider claim that Baby Yoda merchandise isn’t doing as well as it previously did when The Mandalorian first debuted, but apparently the character got beat in heads up marketing at a Walmart in Kalamazoo.
The insider explains, “Not from the toy side, but another category doing mall intercepts: standing in the parking lot of a Walmart in Kalamazoo, weighted-for-population age groups, they are shown images on 2 x 2 boards; Baby Yoda full body and the other is Darth Vader headshot. Which one has more recognition, do you think? Not even close!”
The insider then reveals, “Ok, after a whole morning of this, a decision is made to downshift, this time “Baby” goes up against R2D2. Again, parking lot of a Walmart in Kalamazoo, this is America, who actually wins the head-to-head? Correct, the original droid!”
“Oh, but it doesn’t end there, R2 cleaned Baby Yoda’s clock on the sub questions as well, not just awareness (“which one are you more interested in?”, “whose adventures would you rather follow?”, etc),” he relayed. “The R2 picture used was I think from Empire, Cloud City, front leg down. Classic.”
The insider then declared, “Even the ‘biggest’ character of a small limited viewing TV show can’t compare the cultural power of real Star Wars. A couple of years of ok to strong sales? Sure, plug some holes, but you’re still – big picture – rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”
As for how to solve this problem, the insider points to stronger storytelling from Lucasfilm and Star Wars, “For Baby Yoda to hang on, and hope to build – especially if the wish is to develop toy sub cats where the play pattern involves the character interacting using the personalities and story lines presented in the movies/tv/books – he needs a true, intricate story that is his own. Ideally more than one.”
In fact, Baby Yoda might actually need a stronger villain than Moff Gideon as well. The insider detailed why a strong villain is necessary to move an entire line of merchandise, “When I was running a section of the line in the prequel days, Darth Maul was a great example of a break out where has was burning through pegs even more than already planned for – rule of thumb back then in toy merch if your villain wasn’t moving, then you were at risk for the overall line.”
He added, “We removed Jars-Jars and replaced them with even more Maul’s in early case packs and in the various assortments of the sub-lines. You needed to get the villain in the house for boys to build their collections around because of the play pattern.”
WDW Pro concurred with this sentiment, “That is a fantastic point. That’s a master class in understanding how boys play with their action figures and why it’s so important for every intellectual property out there that is going to be merch heavy to have an awesome villain.”
He declared, “You need one because the boys need to roleplay with these characters defeating the villain.”
It’s not surprising that Star Wars merchandise is not doing well and that Lucas’ original trilogy characters perform better than most of what Disney has produced since they purchased Lucasfilm.
Most recently, Hasbro failed at crowdfunding a lightsaber for Obi-Wan Kenobi villain Reva. The crowdfund had a target of 5,000 backers and only managed to secure 1,413.
Back in April of 2020, Diamond Select Toys President Chuck Terceira also revealed there was a lack of demand for Disney’s sequel trilogy merchandise.
He told Rebel Scum, “I will say from what we have seen, the sales on the products from 7 & 8 were not too strong. I know those movies, as well as 9, have their fans and those fans might say GG just never did the right products or characters or formats, and they might be correct.”
He continued, “However, we can only go by what we know. For sure the door is not closed to the ST products and we ARE working on a couple pieces for The Rise of Skywalker right now.”
When questioned by Rebel Scum’s Chris Wyman about products he claimed were “very requested characters,” Terceira fired back, “As I mentioned before, we are working on some, but I have to ask..are you SURE there is lots of demand for these ‘very’ requested characters?”
“The overall demand for busts and SW products is not what it was 10 or even 5 years ago,” he asserted.
Terceira would also claim this was an industry wide demand factor and not isolated to Gentle Giant, “It’s not just a GG issue either. The brand is VERY strong with The Mandalorian & The Clone Wars and more new content to come, but you all know what the production runs on collector products were in the past compared to now.”
“We would very much love to make more products from the new movie,” he said. “It’s not like we’re sitting behind our desk wringing our hands thinking how can we stick it to fans and not make busts they want that will make us money…right??”
He then declared, “We just, as of yet, have not seen enough fans that would want to buy a bust have that personal affection for some of those new characters that makes sense to justify going to production, but for sure we’re watching it and perhaps as more time passes, fans affection for those characters will grow.”
In The Walt Disney Company’s 2019 Q3 report they also admitted there was a decrease in sales of Star Wars merchandise, “The increase at our consumer products business was due to growth at our merchandise licensing and retail businesses. Growth at merchandise licensing was primarily due to higher revenue from merchandise based on Toy Story, partially offset by a decrease from Star Wars merchandise.”
And Star Wars merchandise sales had been in decline since 2016 with Jedi Temple Archive reporting in 2018, “tar Wars merchandise sales have been declining ever since October 2016 (remember that Disney’s fiscal year ends in September). But not only merchandise seems to be affected, since Star Wars book sales and comic book sales are also down. So Star Wars as a whole seems to be in decline at the moment.”
The Star Wars brand does not seem to be rejuvenating itself either as now it appears Baby Yoda merchandise is in decline. On top of this information regarding Baby Yoda merchandise, the latest Star Wars series on Disney+, Andor, has been posting abysmal viewership ratings week over week.
Following the series premiere, which included the release of the first three episodes, Nielsen reported it only garnered 624 million views. The show has fluctuated in the low 400s and high 300s since.
It had 485 million views with the release of the fourth episode. It declined to 356 million with the release of the fifth. The series slightly rebounded with the release of the sixth episode to 405 million minutes. It continued an upward trajectory to 418 million with the release of its seventh episode. However, it declined back to 385 million with episode eight’s release.
The ninth episode did not even make it on Nielsen’s chart as Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale took the tenth and final spot with 440 million minutes viewed. The 10th episode did bounce back with 420 million minutes viewed.
Given these poor numbers, YouTuber Valliant Renegade declared the Star Wars brand dead.
He opens a video discussing Andor’s viewership ratings saying, “Star Wars, once considered to be the greatest and most valuable, and frankly, the most indestructible intellectual property in Hollywood franchise history, is now perhaps been reduced to an ash heap.”
What do you make of this alleged information regarding the merchandise sales for Baby Yoda?