April 6, 2014 – Have the glory days for Star Wars collectors come and gone? JediTempleArchives and other sites recently reminisced about “Midnight Madness Sales”, not that many years ago, when stores such as Toys R Us would open their doors at midnight for the official release of a new line of Star Wars action figures and toys. Numerous fans (and sometimes their dragged-along friends or significant others) would wait in line for hours to be the first to get their hands on certain exclusives or to assemble a new series of collectibles.
Just nine years ago (April 2, 2005), to celebrate the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith – and what many thought would be the LAST of the Star Wars films – fans and collectors around the world participated in this ritual. There were, of course, previous Midnight Madness sales, such as the one to welcome The Phantom Menace (1999) after 16 years of nothingness. The last Midnight Madness orgy occurred in 2008 for the release of The Clone Wars movie, when fans lined up for hours to get their hands on The Legacy Collection items and, what now seems iconic, the Big Millenium Falcon (BMF) and the large AT-TE vehicles. The retail price for the BMF alone was $150.00.
Those were the glory days of collecting, when stores such as Target, Kmart, Toys R Us, and others would devote entire sections of their aisles to row-upon-row of action figures as well as assorted vehicles, light sabers and other items. But have you visited one of these stores lately? It’s a very sad and sorry sight to see very lean sections of Star Wars items, and some crappy hybrid products such as Star Wars Angry Birds and other junk from Hasbro.
The reasons are many: The Great Recession of 2007/2008/2009 etc. and a rather tepid economic recovery gave pause to many collectors and vendors; the explosion of online retailers, such as Amazon, undercut the bricks-and-mortar stores’ ability to compete; loss of momentum with the last release of a Star Wars movie almost a decade ago; and, perhaps, the fickle nature of consumers.
But perhaps there is hope for a resurgence in the retail store displays. The Walt Disney Co. has invested a lot of capital into the coming Star Wars sequels. The announced premiere of Star Wars: Episode VII on December 18, 2015, should spur retailers to revive their Star Wars displays, case assortments and volume of items. But hard to see, the future is. Check back here around midnight, December 17, 2015, and I may have an answer for you.