We wrote before about how dumb this Force Friday unboxing event would be, and it pretty much matched what we said. It was nothing more than something Disney came up with to give their Maker Studios “celebrities” something to do that’s Star Wars related. It was 18 hours of unveils of new Force Awakens toys that no one had seen before…unless you had internet access over the last two weeks. Virtually every toy revealed on this live stream had already been revealed thanks to retailers accidentally putting them on shelves early.
But those retailer leaks quickly became a source of stress for Star Wars fans who run blogs and fan sites, and was the first time that Lucasfilm has ever really failed the internet fanbase. Ever since the invention of the web, Lucasfilm has been pretty good with fans. Basically as long as you didn’t try to make money off the “Star Wars” name, Lucasfilm was OK with you running a Star Wars site. This Force Friday unboxing event, which stinks of some “genius” idea from Disney marketing, poses a dangerous future for anyone who loves Star Wars on the internet.
Hasbro, JAKKS Pacific, LEGO, and others have spent the last two weeks threatening to sue fan sites to the ground for posting images of toys that are publicly visible on store shelves across the country and around the world. These are not toys that were stolen or illegally obtained, they were toys sitting on the shelves of Walmart, Target, and other similar retailers. The stores put the toys on the shelf in the view of public, but due to this 18-hour QVC imitation Disney forced on people, the toy companies decided to threaten fans for taking pictures of things that are sitting out in public view.
It didn’t just stop at blogs or fan sites either. If you have a Twitter or Facebook account you’re in danger as well. One toy manufacturer, so upset that their crappy over-sized figures were on shelves, not only threatened legal action against sites posting any image of the figures in public they also tried to get their social media accounts permanently shut down…even after they complied and removed the image.
You could understand these sorts of legal threats if the images were snuck out of a warehouse or some other illicit way, but they weren’t. These were images taken in public where anyone could walk into a store and see the toys. But instead of yelling at the retailers to pull the product off the shelves, the toy companies played it “safe” and instead decided to threaten the fans who took pictures of toys sitting on store shelves.
99% of Star Wars blogs and fan sites are run out of a house or apartment and don’t really make money. If they make anything it just goes back into hosting for the site and anything beyond that is usually enough to buy a Big Mac is the owner is had a good month. But since Disney set this “Force Friday” marketing event for September 4th, toy companies were forced to threaten extremely costly legal action against fans posting pictures of stuff anyone could see if they walked into Walmart or Target.
In a world where virtually everyone is walking around with a high-quality camera in their pocket, trying to set a specific date to do an 18-hour live infomercial to reveal Star Wars toys isn’t the most realistic idea. It only makes it worse when fans are the ones hurt in an attempt to pull off a marketing event that was targeted to them.