The fuss over the apparently sexist new Star Wars merchandise that barely included any Rey action figures has been one of the most bizarre rows in recent Hollywood history.
It looked like it could so easily have been avoided too.
Fans of the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens were pretty much universally acclaimed in declaring that Daisy Ridley’s kickass Rey is the best character the saga has seen since the original trilogy.
So it seemed astonishing and deeply sexist that, for instance, Rey wasn’t included in the new tie-in Star Wars edition of Monopoly. Only yesterday (January 5) did Monopoly makers Hasbro finally admit they got it wrong and that Rey would be a character in future editions of the game.
But now Loaded can reveal that it’s standard practice for film merchandise makers to be left with little option except to make ‘shit’ toys.
And it’s all because of paranoia around spoilers. Firms like Star Wars studio Disney and Harry Potter makers Warner Brothers give merchandise makers including Hasbro hardly any information about the characters they’re supposed to build models of.
So the toy makers effectively have to guess what key characters like Rey look like.
Jamiebear, who made merchandise for both Star Wars and Harry Potter films, says: “Hasbro were always terrified of souring things with licencors and bent over backwards to avoid any spoilers. That was one reason our Phantom Menace merchandise was shit and nearly bankrupted us.”
He was responding after TV writer Andrew Ellard, former script editor of The IT Crowd, mocked Hasbro’s statement saying that including Rey in Star Wars Monopoly could have given away a key plot point about Rey’s character being a Jedi.
Asking a question everyone thought of on seeing Hasbro’s statement, Ellard said: “How would making Rey a figure in a game of Monopoly revealed that?”
Jamiebear’s comments about industry paranoia are ironic, given that money made from spin-off toys, games and other models have been seen as a key part of a film’s profits since Star Wars director George Lucas a multi-million-dollar fortune when the first movie A New Hope was released in 1977.
Film fans are notorious for leaking spoilers, so Hasbro’s paranoia is understandable to an extent. But if it means film fans are going to be routinely ripped off with sub-standard merchandise, movie makers need to trust their (extremely expensive) partners that little bit more.
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn