Over the last few weeks, the “Where’s Rey” social media campaign has drawn attention to the fact that the main character of The Force Awakens is missing from most merchandise. Now a new report has come out that says they specifically removed Rey from the merchandise out of the fear that boys wouldn’t buy Star Wars toys that featured a girl on it.
According to an insider who spoke to Sweatpants & Coffee, the exclusion of Rey was done to increase sales:
The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider.
“We know what sells,” the industry insider was told. “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”
The insider continued that the long suspected boy/girl merchandising split that Disney has (where Star Wars is seen as a “boys” brand) is the culprit for this:
“Princess toy sales are in freefall. Disney can’t give away princess toys anymore,” according to the insider. And yet, the insider said, the directive is there: Maintain the sharp boy/girl product division. Marginalize girl characters in items not specifically marketed as girl-oriented.
This is going to continue to be a problem as long as boy and girls toys are segregated the way they are. But this isn’t just a problem with Disney, it’s virtually every toy company and toy store in the country. Go into a Toys R Us, Target, and Walmart and most of the time the Star Wars toys are put in the boys section of the toy aisle.