Ever since Force Friday began under the new, all-inclusive banner, there have been problems. What was once Midnight Madness at Toys R Us has turned into a single event, hosted by various merchants like Target, Walmart and of course, Toys R Us. These problems ranged from the smallest issues like individual stores not knowing how to run crowds and lines to bigger problems like distribution issues from the folks over at Hasbro.
The Force Friday event in 2015 for The Force Awakens was plagued by a serious shortage of collectibles that the fans want, like the Black Series figures; as opposed to the ones we didn’t, like the Nerf Millennium Falcon. Fans that weren’t among the first five people in line were denied giving Hasbro their disposable income in trade for action figures. Both major retailers, Toys R Us and Target had very little of the merchandise fans wanted the most. Over the course of the year, these figures popped up and eventually saturated the market with a few exceptions.
The next year’s event was called Rogue Friday to promote…you guessed it! Rogue One. Toys R Us was open at midnight as were a few Target stores throughout the area. Toys R Us had a bigger selection of Black Series and was able to meet the demand, for the most part. Target even seemed to meet the demand as well, with more figures on the pegs, with some becoming pegwarmers for a whole year. I’m looking at you, Jyn and Cassian!
This year seemed to be on the right track. Although promotions for Force Friday were kept secret up to the few days before the event, numerous photos leaked online of the product the companies like Hasbro and Funko refused to acknowledge before the week of the event.
Last year, for Rogue Friday, I went to Toys R Us because Target was so lackluster for The Force Awakens product launch. Toys R Us had at least two or three of each Black Series figure, which isn’t saying much but it was an improvement.
Cut to: August 31, 2017 – The Last Jedi is hyped more than ever and the new merchandise is displayed all over social media with stores acknowledging and promoting Force Friday. Toys R Us has their usual midnight launch planned while Target had some selected stores that were to participate in the midnight event. What could go wrong?
Being second in line at a California Toys R Us, I thought I had it made. I had shown up around 4:45pm and waited in my car and then in front of the store, once another fan claimed first in line.
We live streamed a couple videos over Facebook and Instagram and prepared for the crazy fun that awaited us once the clock hit 12:01 am. The doors opened, we all went inside only to find a small table with a Poe helmet and a bunch of Toys R Us exclusive Gree Clone Trooper Black Series figures. I quickly checked the regular Star Wars section of the store, only to find a few handfuls of 3.75 figures and still no other Black Series figures. I went back to the front of the store where the tables were set up and, thinking this was a mistake by the employees, I asked the manager about the rest of the Black Series. She told me that they were shorted by the manufacturer (Hasbro). I paid for the two Funko Pops I was able to grab whilst looking for the figures I really wanted and left to go across town to one of the Targets that was supposed to be open.
It was now 12:35 am, and thinking Target hadn’t learned anything from the first Force Friday (for TFA) I didn’t expect them to have anything decent, however, they did have almost all of the Black Series, including Rey and Luke – the ones I had wanted the most, but they were in such poor condition that I left them for someone else who didn’t care about condition. At that point, buying a repackage of Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper from the 40th Anniversary line just didn’t seem right. It seemed desperate and sad.
So, I went home with my tail between my legs and walked away with a 3.75 Jedi Luke and Funko Pops of Snoke and a Porg. I suppose it’s an improvement over my Force Friday haul from 2015 which was a lowly 3.75 Darth Vader.
On social media, Target was the clear winner of Force Friday with some of the pictures showing multiple upon multiple Luke and Rey Black Series figures, among others. I kept seeing fans holding up the merch they were ecstatic to buy while I was left with next to nothing but bad feelings towards Hasbro and Toys R Us because I had had so much faith in them. I was so mad at the whole ordeal; I didn’t sleep until 2:30am and had to wake up in three hours for my day job, which meant I couldn’t even go to a Target in the morning. To add insult to injury, being that most stores in the area would be cleaned out, there is no hope for a restock until next week, at the earliest.
The moral of the story is: Don’t trust the previous year’s Force Friday at a particular retailer. If Target was good the year before, maybe you should try Walmart or Toys R Us, but then again, maybe you should skip Toys R Us altogether. I, for one, am never going back for another Force Friday event.