Farewell Toys ‘R’ Us: What Next?

As I walked through my local Toys ’R’ Us for the final time, I must admit I felt quite emotional. I have many good memories of discovering hard to find figures as well as the ‘usual suspects’ on the hundreds of visits over the years.

My first ‘job’ for Jedi News was to cover Force Friday II back in September 2017 at Toys ‘R’ Us in Oldbury, UK. The shelves were brimming with new stock and 100 or so Star Wars fans waited eagerly to get inside to buy the new merchandise, the air was full of excitement and anticipation. But a mere 8 months later, I walked through that same store and it was unrecognisable and more like a barren, desolate wasteland. This was the same store where I purchased my first POTF2 figure of Darth Vader back in 1995 that rekindled my own Star Wars collecting.

So what went wrong? Don’t look at me for the answers and I’m not going to try and give you any! Although it has really made sit and think about how I collected until now and how I will continue to collect in the future.

There are many theories out there about how a global company can fold as quickly as a deck of cards in the wind. Company’s financial structures, merchandise prices and stock levels, only scratch the surface of the issues. Yes, bad business decisions do take a massive toll somewhere along the line, but do we need to look at how we as consumers affect that market? Could we even go as far to say that some of the issues are being created by collectors, manufacturers and dare I say Disney/Lucasfilm?

Back in the 70’s and 80’s we didn’t have the big superstore style toy shops here in the UK, we had the independent retailers and major high street stores that carried plentiful amounts of stock and at pocket money prices. I think the key difference was in those days was that it was children buying toys and not adults buying toys as collectables.

With this in mind, I think there needs to be some sort of separation of these 2 entities. There will always be an adult collector that wants to collect everything or another who wants to relive their childhood again through their own child’s play. But do we need toys on the ‘high street’ and ‘collectables’ via specialist suppliers and the World Wide Web?

There seems to be a misunderstanding of what collectors really want. Maybe the HasLab Khetanna Sail Barge and the crowdfunded model does have some mileage after all? This was a toe in the water for Hasbro and I think with its success it has set a precedent for the future of collecting. Would you use this model to get that Black Series 6” figure of [INSERT CHARACTER NAME OF YOUR CHOICE HERE] you’ve always wanted to see? There’s bound to be more than 1 of us out there that has the same character on their want list, so why not; I know I would. It just needs to be expanded to the global market, not just the US and Canada for it to work.

As I have said already, I’m not here to offer solutions and I wish I could, but I wanted to provoke some thought amongst collectors like myself. When taking to a forum to have a go about the latest releases and the lack of this or that, we all need to remember what the market started out as and still is for children’s toys first and foremost, sometimes we just need to tag along and enjoy the ride.

Some of the gaps will need to be plugged by existing retailers on the high street and the plethora of online traders, but I feel there will be a huge void left by the disappearance of Toys ‘R’ Us. I do feel sad knowing that ever popular hunting ground is now lost to us all, forever.

Team Jedi News would like to thank all employees of Toys ‘R’ Us around the world and send you all our best wishes for the future. May the force be with you, always!

Steve Galloway
Steve was 5 years old when he saw Star Wars for the first time during its first UK cinema release. He considers himself a first generation Star Wars fan and in his own words is a ‘Child of 77’.