As a child, my most prized possession was an Empire Strikes Back Battle Damaged X-Wing Fighter. I’m pretty sure I received it for my fourth birthday, and I carried that thing everywhere I went. When it was finally retired to the Goodwill, the buzzing of its lasers had ceased, the guns and canopy were missing, the dog had chewed off the landing strut, and it could no longer lock S-foils into attack position.
Last night, at retailers around the world, the toys awakened. For the first time in years, Star Wars merchandise has new film content to reference, and that merchandise was unleashed on the masses like Force Lightning. It was likely one of the biggest nights for Star Wars fans in years, and I was out in it.
I have a history at Topless Robot when it comes to stories involving venturing out late at night. I’ve waited in chilling rain for a Playstation 4, tried staying awake for days watching Marvel movies, but there was no Force in the ‘Verse strong enough to keep me out of stores. My goal, get a story and hopefully a Poe Dameron X-Wing.
By the time this story runs, I will be on my way to my day job, with a very limited amount of sleep. Therefore, my search for Star Wars toys will take me to a pair of wretched hives of scum and villainy: Toys R Us and Walmart. While the Toys R Us is reopening for the special occasion, my local, very rural Walmart is open 24 hours typically, and late night visits have always proven to be interesting to say the least. Regardless to say, I had quite the adventure, so let’s take a look at what I found, on the shelves and off, on Force Friday.
And Now We Will Discuss the Location of the Hidden Toys
Pulling up to the Owings Mill, MD, Toys R Us was rather underwhelming. Unlike the mad cacophony of people waiting for Playstations, I pulled up to the store an hour before reopening and found a whopping four Star Wars fans populating the line. None of them were local, having traveled to what they thought would be a less popular location in hopes of acquiring some plastic wonders.
Over the course of the hour we were waiting we got to know each other as more shoppers trickled into the line. There was the father and son, the engaged couple, the best friend, the father and his disinterested looking young daughter, the older collector who recently had to rent a space at a storage facility to hold his collection, and the young family with baby in tow.
Most were in pursuit of the Black Series figures, the father and son were after the incredibly impressive BB-8, but much to my happiness, no one mentioned being on the prowl for an X-Wing.
How Long Have You Had Those Klingons?
While the sealed doors of the store kept us our like the Death Star’s deflector shields, perimeter defense was carried out by a security guard in a silver Chevy. As we queued up, he almost silently kept watch over the slowly growing line. At one point he did engage some of the group, mentioning that he loved Star Wars too. He expressed this heartfelt affection for the series by telling the group to “Beam me up Scotty!”
Move Along…Move Along
As the fifteen of us walked into the store, we were greeted with an archway depicting the new characters. The engaged couple were tempted to purloin it for their wedding arch, but since it was still there when I left I’ll assume they won’t be saying any vows in front of it. Plus, the lightsaber sound it makes when one passes under it could get kind of distracting during the ceremony.
In addition to the Chevy-piloting security guard out front, the Sensor-matic machines were adorned with Stormtroopers. I can’t imagine they would deter thievery though, it’s not like they could hit your ass if they tried.
When 900 Years Old You Reach, Sell for as Much, You Will Not
The first casualty of the new toys: Star Wars Colorforms enter the clearance bin along with Zhu Zhu Pets and a creepy Buzz Lightyear mask that I imagine only serial killers would wear.
Before this new series of toys, the Dark Lord of the Sith, detester of sand and slayer of younglings graced almost ever single piece of Star Wars packaging. Sadly, it seems that the mysterious Kylo Ren has become the new Star Wars poster boy. That dude is on everything, including a $129 Darth Vader action figure.
Judge Me Not by My Price Tag
When I was around 21 years old, my family, as a gag gift, bought me a Jedi Training Yoda. Essentially this thing was a Furby that reacted to movements of a cheap, mini plastic lightsaber. Well, “reacted” is a strong word; it was supposed to react to a lightsaber toy, but the piece of poodoo never worked and was likely tossed out when I moved out of my parent’s house.
Apparently Disney didn’t learn a thing from the Furby debacle…it looks like the new, $179 Legendary Yoda does essentially the same thing. Hopefully the last 15 years allowed plastic Yoda’s midichlorian count to go up.
Imperial Store Destroyer
Here’s your first look at the newly redesigned Imperial Star Destroyer, one of the new Black Titanium Series of diecast figures. I’d show you some of the others but this is the last single one in the store unless you want to buy the $20 four pack.
Back In Black
I’d love to show you the new Black Series 6″ action figures, but they disappeared faster than Obi-Wan with a lightsaber through his neck. In fact, as you can see from the picture above, all that was really left in this area was Micro Machines, Captain Phasma costumes, and Chewbacca ski-masks.
Most of the customers were great, carrying out two or three Black Series figures. In fact, the engaged couple mentioned feeling guilt for capturing the one and only Black Series Stormtrooper, but they weren’t the problem. That title goes to the only dude who brought back a shopping cart to the Star Wars section and filled it like he just won the Nickelodeon Toy Run.
And the Award for Most Inappropriate Comment on Force Friday…
…goes to the guy who, while waiting in line said “Black Series Action Figures Matter!”…in a suburb of Baltimore…in a crowd that featured people of many races.
Ancient Weapons are No Match for a Good Blaster at Your Side
If there is one Star Wars item destined for the Island of Misfit Toys, it would be the Phineas and Ferb inspired Bladebuilder kit. No one, including Toy Run Man, even picked up this kit. In fact, I felt embarrassed even positioning it for a picture. Parents, be warned: this will be in that clearance section in no time.
Aren’t You a Little Short for a Stormtrooper?
While the 6″ figures were selling faster than blue milk, like the Bladebuilder kit not a single soul walked out with the 1:2 scale Stormtrooper figure, though part of me was tempted to put this in my kid’s bed tonight and wait for screams to ensue.
It’s Star Wars or Nothing
If I can’t find my X-Wing or anything else of substance, I’ll likely be taking home one of the three Star Wars selections of Nerf guns. To be fair, the Stormtrooper blaster is pretty badass, and my kids are always ready to welcome a new foam projectile weapon into the house.
Set Your Course for Walmart
Dismayed by the apparent lack of product, I decided to make my way to Walmart, though as I left I made sure to ask a Toys R Us employee what was with the low stock. He said that what I saw was what they got, and to call on Tuesday when they got their shipment in.
Hoping that I wouldn’t miss my X-Wing, I punched it toward the Owings Mills Wal-Mart, not realizing that they were not 24 hour, nor were they participating in Force Friday. At this point, it was 12:40am, I hadn’t eaten in twelve hours, and I had nothing in my van aside from the free giveaways from Toys R Us; a poster and a bizarrely-shaped Lego piece adorned with a Stormtrooper. I wasn’t about to let my kids down, so I made my way towards my hometown, 24 hour Walmart.
My Minivan Cannot Make the Kessel Run in Less Than Twelve Parsecs
About a mile away from the Walmart, suddenly the interior of my vehicle became exponentially brighter, a side effect of the police car shining it’s spot light into my van. The light then turned a red and blue hue as his rollers came on. The conversation went a little like this:
Cop: “How long have you owned this van?”
Jason: “About 6 or 7 years. It’s up for sale if you want it!”
C: “I need to see your identification.”
J: (Waves Hand) “You don’t need to see my identification.”
C: “Yes I do.”
J: “Yes sir…what I meant to say was, (waves hand) you don’t need to write me a ticket.”
C: “I don’t need to write you a ticket…I need to write you a repair order.”
Ten minutes later I was on my way.
The Dark Side Seems so Much More Festive at Wal-Mart
It seems that the Dark Side has upgraded from cookies, and is now trying to woo new followers via cupcakes.
You Must Learn Controllers
Apparently Xbox is the official gaming system of the Star Wars saga.
Now I Have You
So it seems all of the world’s Black Series action figures were redirected to Walmart.
Every character seems to be well represented in their inventory, including Kylo Ren.
First You Get the Paper, Then You Get the Power
Toys aren’t the only thing on the Star Wars menu…school supplies are the cheapest way to bring home the magic of Star Wars tonight. All joking aside, that Stormtrooper notebook looks pretty frakking awesome.
My X-Wing Must Have a Cloaking Device
Sadly, my Poe Dameron black X-Wing is nowhere to be found. In fact, the Wal-Mart is as limited on Star Wars vehicles as the Toys R Us was in Black Series figures. After two stores, one traffic stop, and forty miles, I sure as hell am not going home empty. Here’s my catch of the day:
My boys are going to be practicing their blast patters with the Nerf Stormtrooper rifle and adorning their wall with the free giveaway poster from Toys R Us. The Rey figure will be my daughter’s first action figure; likely The Force Awakens will be her first movie in the theaters. The Black Titanium Series X-Wing is heading towards my desk at work.
And of course, there’s one other thing I got tonight:
Happy Force Friday, and May the Force Be With You…Always.
Previously by Jason Helton