‘Star Wars’ Toy Sales Fall in 2017 As Movie-Tie Fatigue Sets In

Hasbro's new Star Wars action figures are photographed during a media event on Aug. 25, 2017 in San Francisco. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

We knew this was somewhat true, and now we have the numbers to back it up — “Adult collectors, who grew up with the brand, are still buying a lot of merchandise when the toys come out, but demand dies down afterward” according to Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets talking to Bloomberg.

The warning signs for the toy industry started last year when Cars 3 — considered a surefire success — proved lackluster for licensees like Mattel Inc.

Now, toymakers’ big bets on movie tie-ins look downright bleak. Playthings based on the Star Wars saga — the franchise that kicked off the whole phenomenon four decades ago — were down in 2017 despite a new film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in December during the all-important holiday-shopping season.

More than 20 major films, including The Last Jedi, had robust toy-licensing programs last year. A decade ago, it was about half that. Movie attendance in the U.S. has dropped almost 14 percent in that span.

“There are so many screens now; kids aren’t just at the movies,” Johnson said. “A movie doesn’t have the same resonance it used to.”

While Star Wars was still the top-selling toy line during the nine-week holiday period, sales fell from 2016 and the brand lost its No. 1 position for the year, according to data from market researcher NPD Group shared with Bloomberg News. Full-year 2016 numbers benefited from the pent-up demand from Star Wars fans who started buying merchandise after Walt Disney Co. rebooted the franchise.

Star Wars is a force to be reckoned with in the toy industry,” Disney said in a statement. “It remains the leading film-driven property for the entire year.”

Read the article in full at Bloomberg.

So with adults collectors being so important to the Star Wars brand — perhaps even keeping it alive — why don’t some licensees take what we have to say seriously? Feel free to discuss on our Facebook/Twitter pages.

James is an active member of the Star Wars collecting community, and is the Brand Director for Jedi News. James is also the host of the Star Wars Collectors Cast, and co-host of RADIO 1138 on the Jedi News Network.