Action figures are arguably one of the biggest reasons Star Wars became the world-conquering franchise it is today. George Lucas infamously made a killing off of the merchandising rights that 20th Century Fox simply wasn’t interested in back when the original film came out in 1977, and Star Wars has remained a permanent fixture in toy stores ever since. Each new film or TV series release sees a whole new slate of merchandise for fans to collect (I myself actually went to a midnight release of Revenge of the Sith merchandise at Walmart back in 2005, and I refuse to apologize for that decision). So why in the name of Jabba’s rugburned belly can we not buy any adorable Baby Yoda plushies based on the hit new Disney+ series The Mandalorian?
In a recent red carpet interview at the premiere of the the first-ever live action Star Wars TV show, series creator and showrunner Jon Favreau shed some light on the conspicuous absence of any Mandalorian merchandise, specifically in regards to everyone’s favorite lil’ Jedi booger.
“I have to thank Disney and Lucasfilm, because the way the cat usually gets out of the bag with that stuff is merchandising and toy catalogs and things like that. So they really back us up. We really wanted to have it be that you had to watch it yourself, so that every time you watch the show, there are new twists and secrets that come out. That requires a lot of restraint from the people who are footing the bill, saying they’re gonna hold back on certain things so that the public doesn’t know ahead of time. Part of that was holding back on some of the merchandise and holding back on some of the characters.”
Basically, we don’t have any sweet Boda merch (what the Collider office has bravely decided to call Baby Yoda until his or her inevitably ridiculous name is finally revealed) because Favreau wanted to preserve the surprise of the character’s reveal. That’s remarkable in a few ways – one, merchandise (and specifically action figures) have a long history of spoiling their source material, Star Wars merchandise in particular. Every time a new Star Wars comes out, there are entire forum threads dedicated to fans trying to extrapolate every conceivable detail of a new Star Wars action figure into theories about the upcoming film. That’s because Lucasfilm has long known the importance of having Star Wars merchandise on the shelf to coincide with each new release, because as I mentioned, Star Wars is an empire largely built on merchandise. But the second and more interesting implication here is that Favreau made a request based entirely on artistic merit – he wanted to keep his story from being spoiled – and Disney actually listened to him. That’s a lot of money left on the table, and I doubt they would’ve granted such a request to anyone other than Favreau, who essentially created the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has made Disney billions of dollars already with other projects like The Lion King.
Check out the full interview with Favreau and series director Dave Filoni below, and make sure to keep watching The Mandalorian on Disney+. For more on the bounty hunting show, check out our review and our recap of Episode 2.