The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is still a week away, but already some toys are flying off the shelves faster than the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run. Toys based on the upcoming Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, are in particularly high demand. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro (HAS) paid the Walt Disney Company (DIS) a reported $225 million for Star Wars merchandising rights back in 2013, and it seems the deal is starting to pay off. So much so that there are reports of supply shortages for some of the more popular items.
“After Force Friday, we had such a great response that we were a little short of product, and we’re catching up,” says Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. “In the next week or two we’ll be caught up, and by the time the movie comes out on December 18th, we’ll be in great position.”
So will you be able to find all the Star Wars toys you want before Christmas? Goldner won’t quite guarantee it but says, "It takes us about 8 weeks to produce a toy and get it to market, and we’re moving as fast as we can to make sure everybody gets the toys they want for the holidays.”
But not every kid is hoping for light sabers and BB8 action figures this year. There are plenty of other toys Hasbro is banking on. Goldner notes that sales of Nerf products are up 25% so far this year, thanks to new categories that allow customization. For the younger set, the ever evolving Play-Doh line is also performing well.
But Hasbro toys aren’t just for kids anymore. The company has some new products for the young-at-heart called “Joy for All companion pets.” The robotic cats purr and respond to touch and, according to their website, “are designed to bring comfort, companionship, and fun for your elder loved ones ... Companion Pets deliver a soothing, joyful experience that inspires smiles, laughter and fond memories for people of all ages.”
Goldner says they were inspired by the popularity of their “FurReal Friends” line and "wanted to make a product that was specifically designed for an older consumer … We believe it’s a big segment. We clearly see more people getting older and people looking for companionship, and clearly we want to fill a void that we’ve heard about from our consumers.”