Billy Langsworthy talks to Mike Stagg, vice president and general manager, retail UK and Ireland at The Walt Disney Company about the success of the Force Friday initiative, the future of Star Wars at retail and why the new wave of products can become as iconic as the original run of Kenner figures.

Disney’s Mike Stagg on the success of Force Friday

How successful was the Force Friday initiative?

Force Friday was a highly anticipated and huge moment for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was a significant global event at retail that delighted fans all over the world.

While fans counted down to ‘Midnight Madness’ when the product became available for the first time, we saw huge numbers of people queuing outside stores throughout the world to be the first to own a piece of the new consumer products range.

As we get closer to the UK release of the film, in cinemas in December 17th, we’re sure to see demand continue to grow along with the fan base.

With spin-offs like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in the pipeline, can we expect this level of retail activity around each future Star Wars release?

We can only expect Star Wars to grow from here on in. Support for the franchise will come from every part of The Walt Disney Company.

Why should the toy industry be excited about the arrival of The Force Awakens?

Star Wars is the most successful film licensing franchise of all time and is still the biggest boys’ licence in the world.

There is no doubt that demand for Star Wars remains as strong as ever and its heritage in toys is embraced as much as the films themselves.

Toys help bring the characters and storytelling to life and with Star Wars: The Force Awakens being one of the most anticipated films of all time, demand for toys will go hand in hand with this.

What Star Wars: The Force Awakens products are you a big fan of?

The BB-8 by Sphero has already seen huge acclaim and worldwide media attention. The tech and interactivity involved in the product is very innovative.

Also, the animatronics captured in the Thinkway Kylo Ren and other character figures are cutting-edge. And while the Disney Store exclusive Elite Series Die-Cast figures take pride of place on my desk, together with my new Hasbro lightsabre, I still have a soft spot for LEGO’s new Millennium Falcon.

I can still remember the original one and the hours spent to build it. I’m a big fan.

Can The Force Awakens toys make as big a splash as the Kenner figures did back in 1978?

There’s such huge momentum behind The Force Awakens at present, back in the Seventies Star Wars was a brand new franchise so we can only expect demand for the fantastic and hugely innovative figures from our partners including Hasbro, LEGO and the Disney Store to be in huge demand.

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