Here’s Rey! And here’s Rey! And here’s Rey, screamed US toymaker Hasbro as they attempted to make up for a pretty poor decision to leave one of the Force Awakens’ most important characters out of the special edition Monopoly game.
But let’s face it – the damage was done. And claiming that you couldn’t possibly include the film’s new female lead for fear of spoiling the plot made the whole thing even more laughable and disheartening in equal measure.
We’d been bombarded with images, teasers and trailers for The Force Awakens for about 12 months before it was released, and in nearly every one of those images, teasers and trailers, Rey was featured.
Sure, there were arguments about how frequently we’d see her and plenty of speculation about who she might really be, but we were all asking questions about Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, Finn’s background and questioning whether or not Darth Vader could still be alive. Why was including them in the Monopoly set not deemed a risky move?
And if you didn’t want to include her with a certain weapon why not just give her that staff we see her wield at every possible juncture? Or get Leia in instead? Or even Captain Phasma?
The simple fact, in my opinion at least, is that Rey’s absence has more to do with what is seen as marketable merchandise than making sure fans don’t have the film spoiled for them.
“Nobody wants the girl anyway”, I overheard a woman telling her other half in a toyshop earlier this year. And that’s the precise assumption that far too many companies run with when producing action figures these days.
They argue that female characters won’t sell because girls don’t buy action figures.
That same theory was used to explain why DC’s Young Justice went under back in 2013. Superhero execs didn’t want shows with a largely female fanbase because girls wouldn’t buy the merchandise, writer and producer Paul Dini claimed. It was far easier to throw figurines at boys by the bucketload.
It’s not a good enough excuse. Plenty of girls do want to buy action figures and they are NOT happy when they can’t find them – just look at the furore that erupted over Black Widow’s omission from an Avengers action figure line.
And look at the letter an 8-year-old girl wrote to Hasbro when she found out Rey was missing from Star Wars Monopoly.
Watching The Force Awakens, you feel as though JJ Abrams and Disney finally understand that. Women are part of the furniture in every corner of the galaxy, and there are complex female characters at the heart of the tale.
That’s why Hasbro’s decision to omit Rey, and their reactive “oh now that we know you want her we’ll put her in” response is so disheartening and infuriating.
Because really, if that theory about girls not buying action figures is SUCH a big concern, wouldn’t it be better to encourage them to get in on the action by producing female characters they actually want?
Wouldn’t it have been better to take the risk on Rey, who you don’t even need to have seen the film to know is going to play a pretty vital role, than drop her to the bottom of the pile?
Speaking of which, it’s even more infuriating to see Kylo’s the one dominating the packaging for her…
Did someone miss the memo on that EPIC battle in which she sent the young Force wielder flying?
Oh we’ll give you the girl, LOTS of the girl, just you wait and see, say toymakers when they’re challenged. But kneejerk responses are just too little too late.
“Nobody wants the girl”, the old saying goes. And unless attitudes at major toymakers adjust, that’s not going to change any time soon.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is now showing in UK cinemas