A little over a month ago, Disney officially kicked off their 2017 “Star Wars Season” with Force Friday. The first of September saw many new Star Wars t-shirts, toys, Black Series figures, LEGOs, stuffed animals porgs, etc. hit the shelves. Like good little consumers, eager Star Wars fans (myself included) swarmed stores in an effort to a) get new Star Wars stuff and b) see what manner of clues about The Last Jedi could be found amidst all the new merch. I wanted to wait to write this post as there was A LOT of Force Friday stuff on the interwebs that weekend. But, with the new trailer dropping tomorrow, the time has come! So, who wants to hear about the Star Wars stuff??
I’ve come to really enjoy Force Friday. It’s a nice little back-to-school tradition that helps me deal with the eventual loss of summer vacation each year. Do I have to go back to work? Sure BUT I also get to geek out about new Star Wars stuff soon after! As we do every year, Hannah and I headed out during our prep mod to see what we could find. In a little over an hour we explored Barnes and Noble, Toys ‘R’ Us, JC Penney, Books-A-Million, F.Y.E., and Hot Topic (Target and Kohl’s were later-in-the-weekend stops). We even made time to enjoy a hot pretzel from Auntie Anne’s because, really, how can you take in so much Star Wars stuff without the proper fuel in your system? The pretzel was essential food for the journey. I’d say Auntie Anne’s is essential fuel for life but that’s (slightly) besides the point. We had our route mapped out ahead of time, carefully planned to avoid what happened in 2015 (which was us barely making it back to work before the start of third mod resulting in our running as fast as we could through the parking lot and the halls of the school to make it to my class on time (Matthew was covering (after we sent him an urgent text) in case we were a few minutes late but (thankfully!) we made it))). We knew what we wanted. We knew what we wanted to see. We knew we had an hour and a half to do it. And we were successful!
We didn’t find anywhere near as much merchandise as we did in 2015’s Force Friday, kicking off the lead up to The Force Awakens. But I think that was a wise move on Disney’s part. There is still a ton of discounted (upon discounted) Force Awakens merchandise to be found all over. They really overproduced there. However, thankfully, we saw a lot more to get excited about than we did during last year’s bleak Rogue Friday pickings. I feel like it was a happy medium. There was a lot to look at (and use as speculation fodder!) but it wasn’t overwhelming. Also, there’s plenty of room to add more to it. This is key as we all know Disney will continue to roll out more and more (and more) new stuff as we get closer to The Last Jedi‘s official release in December. I’ve already found new shirts at all those stores that weren’t there on Force Friday.
So what did we get? Right, that’s the real question. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the blogging sphere were filled with pictures of everyone’s haul on Force Friday. Did we score a Black Series Thrawn? How about that Furby-fied Porg? Were there new Funko POP! toys? Was the perfect The Last Jedi t-shirt found, solidifying the opening night wardrobe? I’m happy to say that both Hannah and I managed to get everything on our Force Friday shopping list! Not bad, if I do say so myself, especially with not having gone out at midnight the night before. So what did we bring home to add to our respective Star Wars collections? We each excitedly picked up our copies of Delilah S. Dawson’s Phasma novel! Yay! Annnnnd that was it. We were pumped to look at all the other toys and t-shirts and everything else we could find out there…but we didn’t feel the need to take any more of it home. Why? Well, there were a couple of reasons behind our minimalistic approach to new Star Wars stuff.
First, I’ve said before I got a little…uh, shall we say over excited with my buying options for The Force Awakens. I did not love the movie anywhere near enough to warrant the number of things I now have with its logo stamped on them. Second, let’s be honest. Disney wants us to buy all this stuff. Force Friday is designed to make money off of the movie months in advance and then allow Disney to continue with their profits afterwards, when they rule the Christmas box office AND top Christmas wish lists. I don’t want to buy things just because Disney wants me to. Now, I have no problem with Disney making money off Star Wars. That’s kind of why they bought it you know? Nor do I have any problem with people who wanted to buy a ton of Star Wars stuff. God knows I get wrapped up in stuff from time to time. But I’ve realized I have no real desire to buy a bunch of stuff before I even know if I like the film. Sure, I’m excited! I want a t-shirt or two. And I couldn’t wait to read Phasma! I was excited for this novel like I haven’t been about a new Star Wars novel since the Disney Canon began, eager to learn more about the mysterious (and underused) Captain Phasma.
Third, and most important, was the realization that I could (and should!) be using some of my “fun money” to buy Star Wars toys for kids in need this Christmas season, as opposed to just buying a ton of more shit for myself. In the lead up to Force Friday, Jeff wrote this post creating The Talker Toy Challenge over on his blog, The Imperial Talker. Jeff had been hyping a toy giveaway on his site for a while and the brilliant (and challenging!) twist was that the toys he was giving away weren’t for his readers. They were for children in need. He has been diligently gathering as many Star Wars toys as he can – making great use of clearance shelves – to be able to donate to Toys for Tots and other charitable organizations this Christmas. Then he challenged his readers to do the same.
As Jeff wrote, “My hope and challenge to you, my magnanimous reader, is that you will follow suit and do something similar. Whether you go out and buy one Star Wars toy, or ten, or twenty, or a hundred, I hope you will stand in the toy aisle at a store, pick up a Star Wars action figure or Lego set, and say ‘I don’t need this but there is a little girl or boy out there who deserves it.’ Or maybe you will pull something out of your own collection to give away. Or perhaps you know a family in need and are willing to take them shopping, to buy the gifts – any gifts, not just toys! – for their kids at Christmas time or for a birthday.” What Jeff wrote stayed with me. I knew this was something I had to do. So when Hannah and I were looking at all the exciting toys for The Last Jedi, as opposed to picking up a bunch of things I’d like (but don’t need (and would have to dust)), I decided to get myself one thing I really wanted and channel the rest of the money I’d set aside for Star Wars stuff into toys for children who deserve them but lack the means to get them.
In fact, the idea so struck me that I’m making it part of my Christmas shopping list. I love Christmas shopping. It’s an ironic situation because, knowing and studying Jesus as I do, I can tell you with absolute certainty our turning the celebration of his birth into an orgy of consumerism is the exact opposite of what he’d want and all he stood for. But I love to find things for people I love! I get such a thrill out of travelling the shops looking for the perfect gifts. I like to start my shopping early and I have a Christmas list running with ideas for people pretty much from October on. This year, inspired by Jeff’s idea, I’ve added a section to that list for toys to buy and donate.
It saddens me that I’ve never thought of this before, being so intentional about it with my Christmas shopping. But now that Jeff’s given me the inspiration, I can’t imagine not doing it! I was going to include pictures of some of the toys I’ve picked up to donate along with the pictures of Hannah and I being huge camera hams posing with any cool The Last Jedi display we found. However, I’ve decided it’s better to wait to do another post with those, closer to Christmas, to remind everyone (again) to take part in Jeff’s Talker Toy Challenge and donate what they can to those in need.
At the end of the day, Hannah and I didn’t need to buy a ton of Star Wars stuff to have a great Force Friday. We each picked up a copy of a novel we’ve been waiting months and months to read. We enjoyed a delicious pretzel from Auntie Anne’s! And we spent the entire morning (and rest of the day) speculating about the toys we saw. Snoke is apparently regular human size! Kylo Ren has a kick ass TIE fighter! Look at Vice Admiral Holdo! What role will she play in the Resistance?! We enjoyed all the Force Friday excitement with minimal consumption. We didn’t enjoy the day any less without massive hauls. We could speculate just as well looking at the toys on the shelves as we could with them in our homes. We bought what we really, really wanted. And that leaves money to shop for children who aren’t as blessed with the means so many of us can take for granted.
Please take a moment to bounce over to The Imperial Talker and read his “Star Wars Toy Giveaway Challenge” post. Then, please consider taking part yourself. May the Force be with you, always.