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Disney did something that’s actually rather unprecedented when it premiered The Mandalorian on Disney+ just a few short weeks ago: it kept the new Baby Yoda character a secret from the fanbase so that it was a huge surprise. However, keeping that secret came at a cost; in this case, Disney is estimated to have lost a ton of money by not having Baby Yoda toys pushed out and ready for the holidays.
According to new reports, Disney allegedly has left $2.7 million dollars on the table thanks to the Internet’s collective obsession with Baby Yoda. (A CNBC reporter even mentioned she feels this estimate is “on the low side.”) You may have already considered buying a plush or a Funko pop only to find that the only merch available for the adorable new Star Wars critter are bootleg items.
As of this week, Disney has started making a Baby Yoda plush and more available for pre-order, and there are a few t-shirts and phone cases up on the official Disney store. However, there is a dearth of good merchandise out there, and there won’t be a ton of Baby Yoda goods under anyone’s trees this Christmas morning.
The new toys based on “The Child” often won’t be hitting stores until May of 2020, which is still months away. In fact, many of them are timed for the spring, which features the popular Star Wars holiday, May the Fourth, when people may shell out additional money for Star Wars products. But by keeping The Mandalorian character a huge secret, Disney most certainly left money on the table.
Now, you may be asking, why didn’t the Disney marketing team start pushing out Baby Yoda toys in advance of the release of The Mandalorian so that they would be ready in time for the Christmas holiday? The main reason is secrecy. Disney+ needed a viral moment when it got off of the ground in order to get people excited about subscribing to the service. Sure, just having a Star Wars series is cool, but showing Baby Yoda sipping soup? Iconic. Now, where’s my t-shirt?
I cannot tell you how many times at CinemaBlend we’ve seen toys spoiling plot points in movies. Sure, there are ways to create extra toys that show events, costumes or character that don’t actually make their way into superhero or other franchise movies. However, because toys have to come together months in advance and require molding and sculpting before ultimately hitting shelves, toys spoil things a lot.
The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau has already spoken out about wanting that element of surprise with The Child and how Donald Glover helped him to see why surprise moments -- like The Child’s introduction -- can be really cool when they were making The Lion King together.
And when you purchase it later this year, just remember that Disney openly and willingly left $2.7 million dollars on the table so that Disney+ users could have a delightful surprise this holiday season.
For now, if you aren't up on The Child and his ability to find legions of fans with one small sip of soup, be sure to check out Disney+ and The Mandalorian specifically with a free 7-day trial.