Hasbro withholds the UK’s supply of Solo merchandise.
There is a great disturbance in the Force.
With the build up to the hotly anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story fully underway, one can be forgiven for thinking our retail outlets would be bursting at the seams with all new Star Wars merchandise. The United States enjoyed the annual Force Friday event on April 13, 2018 but the UK was excluded from joining in the fun.
The collapse of mega toy retailer Toys “R” Us has had a profound impact on the worldwide toy market, but a sole vendor does not constitute the entire retail market. However, that did not prevent our store shelves being empty at a time when our US cousins were immersing themselves in Star Wars splendour.
When pressed for information, the representatives of the Disney Store confirmed that their stock would be arriving on May 4th to coincide with the unofficial “Star Wars Day” but alas, when the prestigious day arrived – our stock allocation was a pitiful sum when compared to the volume released in the United States.
A few T-shirts, double box 3.75” action figures, Black Series 6” figures, mugs, water bottles, figurines, Funko Pop figures, overpriced Plush characters and LEGO sets arrived, but the entire compliment of 3.75” single carded action figures and vehicles were nowhere to be found. A representative of Disney Store confirmed that their stock had been extremely limited, and they had no idea when the bulk of their allocation would be arriving, which is bizarre to say the least.
Other retailers like Smyths Toys, The Entertainer, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Asda (Walmart) and Tesco have all reported similar problems and a month later, we still have no Solo: A Star Wars Story action figures or vehicles on our shelves. To make matters worse, the fans across the pond are now enjoying the second wave of action figures which have recently arrived on the market all while we, in the UK are yet to see a single action figure from wave one.
The independent import chains like Forbidden Planet have had marginal success with bringing in the all new Millennium Falcon vehicle, as well as several of the double sets of 3.75” action figures which have been priced to incorporate the import charges, but again the bulk of the stock remains out of reach. Other online vendors like ID Toys, Kapow Toys and Star Action Figures have gone above and beyond the call of duty to fill the void and make these action figures available, but their stock allocation has been less than plentiful.
In short, they simply cannot keep up with demand.
So, what’s going on with the UK market?
The silence coming from Hasbro is deafening and the UK retailers have been well and truly left in the dark by their apparent lack of effort and enthusiasm for the UK marketplace. The collapse of Toys “R” Us was bound to have an impact on the resale of toys and games across the board, but I do not subscribe to the notion that their collapse alone has crippled the market. For all intents and purposes, the rest of the world are sat at the buffet table, while the hungry fans of the UK are once again forced to sit outside in the rain, gazing longingly through the window and yearning for the scraps from their plate.
The UK fans deserve better.
I am proud to speak out against this unacceptable treatment and give the mistreated fans of the UK a voice. We are fortunate enough to enjoy a one-day advantage over our American cousins for the theatrical releases of the latest Star Wars movies but are forced to endure a two-week delay for the Blu-Ray/DVD and digital releases. Furthermore, we are forced to wait several weeks at a time for the latest episodes of the now cancelled Star Wars: Rebels TV Series and are forced to avoid social media to evade the unwelcome spoilers spilling from the profiles of our friends in the States.
The balance is not in our favour.
At a time when the greatest fans in the world should be purchasing their tickets for opening day and adding the new Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and Millennium Falcon to our collection, we are forced to play the role of Oliver Twist, begging the importers to please give us some more. What’s more, is the look of anguish on my son’s face every time we walk through the doors of the Disney Store. He is desperate to get his hands on the new merchandise and has his hopes crushed time after time.
The most recent addition to the Disney Store range has been the miniature Millennium Falcon and Figure set, which has only arrived in the last few weeks. Despite coming with light up engines and a range of motion activated sound effects, the vehicle is a poor replacement for the full sized version missing from our shelves. And priced at a whopping £32.00, many fans will be saving their credits for the sales!
Today, in a time where the Star Wars franchise is at its most lucrative – the UK is suffering from an unsympathetic famine. One that cannot be justified. It is high time this mistreatment came to an end and we are regarded with the same esteem as our cousins in the United States. The Star Wars franchise was born here, the movies have been manufactured here for well over forty years and our production crews work tirelessly to create them. And yet, their children cannot play with the toy versions of the sets they create, the vehicles they construct and the characters they help design.
Enough is enough.
It is to Lucasfilm and Hasbro we look to keep us invested in the franchise we love so much. Star Wars action figures and vehicles have been the very bedrock of its success since George Lucas first unveiled A New Hope to the world in 1977 and the fans of UK should be enjoying our supply right now.
The power of the Force lies with you Hasbro, you only need to use it!
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