Disney’s Baby Yoda Mistake Could Cost ‘The Mandalorian’ Franchise Millions

Many aggrieved children (and adult children) know by now that an officially licensed Baby Yoda plush toy won’t be under the tree for the holidays. It’s scheduled to arrive in March 2020, so the Easter bunny will have to take care of that instead. 

Disney didn’t want the “real” star of The Mandalorian to be spoiled by revealing the toy details. But how exactly was that decision made? And just how much money is Disney leaving on the table with the delay?

Why the Baby Yoda toys are delayed

The delay of Baby Yoda might be the ultimate expression of trying to control spoiler culture. Back in the day, spoilers were major revelations, such as Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s dad. (A 40-year-old movie should, in theory, be immune to spoilers.)

Nowadays, even the barest mention of plot details — like saying “Character X” is in the movie” — sends fans into a tizzy. With that level of upset clogging Internet bandwidth everywhere, Disney was understandably reluctant to give away the game on Baby Yoda.

If toys are going to come out at the same time as a movie or show, they have to be put into production well in advance of the release date. If Disney had followed the usual timeline, Baby Yoda might have been revealed months ago. That would have undercut not only The Mandalorian but Disney+ as a whole.

So, according to Screen Rant, Disney decided not to reveal Baby Yoda in time for Triple Force Friday, the event that reveals the new toys. So the argument rages: By trying to solve one problem (spoilers) did Disney create another (loss of revenue)?

Disney isn’t exactly hurting for money

The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

The short answer is yes, it did. Screen Rant quotes a report by Jungle Scout that Disney stands to lose about $3 million in sales due to holding back Baby Yoda. No company likes to lose money. But for Disney, $3 million is pocket change in a year that has seen the company control up 40 percent of the moviegoing market. 

According to Quartz, the Frozen sequel is the sixth Disney-distributed movie to top $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The others are Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, and the CGI version of The Lion King. Spider-Man: Far From Home is in the billion-dollar club as well, but that money goes to Sony, not Disney. 

And obviously this is all before taking The Rise of Skywalker into account. Unless it alienates fans even more than The Last Jedi, the film will certainly make at least $1 billion worldwide.

People can debate how good it is for Disney to dominate the entertainment industry to this extent. But with upward of $7 billion in the bank, Disney isn’t going to sweat $3 million too much.

‘Star Wars’ toys have had delays since day one

While Star Wars is relatively new to Disney, toy delays are hardly new to Star Wars. In fact, they were there from the very beginning. 

Flashback to 1977 — a time when the world didn’t know Luke Skywalker from the Millennium Falcon. George Lucas and his associates were trying to put together toy deals for their movie, settling on Kenner, a relatively small toy company based in Cincinnati.

Back then, Lucas was trying to keep his designs under wraps but for different reasons. Since no one in the public had heard of Star Wars at that point, Lucas wasn’t trying to keep his designs secret from the ticket-buying public so much as he was trying to keep them from other studios and toy manufacturers. 

While Kenner loved the script and approached the toys with great enthusiasm, even the most optimistic projections never foretold that Star Wars would become the juggernaut that it did. So when the movie entered the zeitgeist, Kenner would have hardly any toys ready in time for Christmas.

The best they could promise was an “Early Bird Certificate” that promised kids dibs on the figures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2. 

The price of figures from that collection?” Up to $8,200 on eBay. One can only imagine what Baby Yoda will be worth in 42 years. 

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