I'm truly bummed out. I've been reading article after article - and tweet after tweet - about the fact that it is virtually impossible to find Rey merchandise for children to play with. You would think that store shelves would be absolutely overflowing with Rey products given that she is the main character and heart of the new Star Wars film, but instead, children are having to resort to making their own Rey toys.
A quote from this article says it all:
Corroborating the Lucasfilm insider’s assertions is John Marcotte, founder of the non-profit Heroic Girls.
“I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters,” he tells Boehm. “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of.”
They were blindsided? And completely surprised? How can you be 'completely surprised' that children would want to play with Rey toys?
Why? Wait for it, wait for it - because she's a GIRL.
Apparently, toymakers think that, “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.” Let's flip this for a moment. Imagine that Harry Potter products weren't made because 'no girl wants to be given a product with a male character on it.' It would never happen.
I know that it's 'just toys' and there are much bigger problems out there, but it's disturbing to me that it is still totally acceptable to assume that little boys can't look up to a female character - and it's equally disturbing that the toymakers didn't even consider the little girls.
Fine, let's assume for a moment that little boys don't in fact want to play with Rey toys. But what about the other 50% of the child population?
Isn't it worth making Rey merchandise just for the little girls out there?!
Thankfully, children are smarter than the toymakers and marketers who made this ridiculous (and costly) decision. Both girls and boys want to play with Rey toys and the demand has been so strong that Disney has finally unveiled new Rey merchandise (including a Rey Lightsaber!).
There has been one lame excuse after another about why Rey toys aren't available, but what it comes down to is this: Disney, Hasbro, etc. thought that a girl character wouldn't sell. And they were wrong.
If Rey had been 'Ray' this wouldn't have been an issue with the toy manufacturers.
Kids don't have the same prejudices as adults. Until an adult says “that's a girl toy," or “that's a boy toy," kids are happy to play with whatever they deem fun. If you write a cool, strong, engaging female character who kicks ass and uses The Force, both little boys and little girls will want those toys.