Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Star Wars Monopoly Missing Lead Character - Hasbro's Poor Response

Before this article begins I have to state that it will contain some plot and character spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If you have not watched the film yet and do not wish it to be spoilt then please do not read further.

---  SPOILER ALERT!  ---

Hasbro has released a new edition of the board game Monopoly in the build up to the massively popular Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The set comes complete with four figurines for the players to use, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from Return of The Jedi and Finn and Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens.

What is missing from the set, however, is The Force Awakens' main character Rey.  With the inclusion of the original trilogy's main antagonist and protagonist fans are asking why Hasbro has not included the new films protagonist instead of a supporting character, prompting the question #WheresRey?

Unfortunately this isn't the only piece of merchandising that has not included the films lead, with various figure sets, posters, clothing and other merchandising pushing the films male supporting characters to the forefront rather than the films hero.

Some could argue that it could be to protect certain aspects of the story, after all, from all of the advertising and promotional material everyone went into the film expecting Finn to be a Force user and the next Jedi, instead we discover that Rey is incredibly powerful in the Force and even beats the crap out of Kylo Ren in a lightsabre duel.

It would appear that Hasbro are using that very reasoning to justify not including Rey within the set after releasing a statement to one of the people who raised the issue.

The statement read, 'The Star War: Monopoly game was released in September, months before the movie's release, and Rey was not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance.  Rey is featured in the following Star Wars games; Hands Down, Guess Who and Chess as well as our 6" Black Series figures, 3 3/4" figures and vehicles, Black Series Titanium and Micromachines.  Additionally, fans will see more Rey products hitting shelves this month, including 6" and 12" Rey action figures.  We are thrilled with the popularity of this compelling character and will continue to look for ways to showcase Rey across all of our product lines.'

Okay, I'm calling bullshit on this excuse.  How does including Rey in the monopoly game spoil the fact that she will fight Kylo Ren in the film?  It doesn't, unless she's labelled as 'Rey - Force user and potential future Jedi who fights Kylo Ren with Vader/Lukes lightsabre'.  They could include her in the set and have her holding the staff she carries at the start of the film, and in most of the merchandise and advertising material, and not have it be a spoiler.  After all, Finn is carrying a gun rather than a lightsabre.

It's also hard to take them seriously when they can't even get the facts of the film right.  I've only seen it once so far but even I know that the Rebel Alliance doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe anymore, it's the Resistance.  You'd think if someone who only saw the film once can remember that then the company who have to make a lot of the merchandise could get it right.

This isn't the only piece of Hasbro merchandise they did this with though.  During the events of the film Rey helps to steal, fix and fly the Millennium Falcon.  At the end of the film she even flies off to find Luke in it with Chewbacca.  However, in the action figure set the Falcon comes with Chewbacca, BB-8 and Finn.  Finn, a character who states several times during the film he can't fly anything.

I can understand not wanting to give away major plot points for the biggest film of all time, especially when you're trying to make a profit from the merchandise before anyone's even seen it.  There are ways around not spoiling a film and still representing the lead character though.

The Force Awakens Platinum Series action figures have been released by The Disney Store, and have been massively popular.  The series was initially released with an action figure of Rey available.  She came with a BB-8, her scavenger backpack, the pistol Han Solo gives her and her staff weapon.  Since the film has been released though, they have released another version of the figure, one that comes with a lightsabre.

They somehow managed to hide that spoiler, release more merchandise after the film's release, like Hasbro say they want to do, but still managed to produce an awesome action figure of the film's lead. They didn't just leave her out.  If anything, a lot of the merchandise in Disney Stores are much more balanced than a lot of other places I've seen, with a lot of Rey, Phasma and even Leia merchandise.

Hasbro, and other merchandise manufacturers, need to remember that their audience isn't exclusively male.  A lot of girls are into Star Wars, and geeky things in general.  They need to be able to produce products that represent the characters that young girls look up to.  Besides, I know a lot of men who want their Rey merch more than Finn stuff.

Unfortunately this problem doesn't seem to be going away any time soon, with #WheresRey being only the latest in a long line of popular series that neglect their female characters.  Other Disney owned properties have come under fire for their lack of female representation, with the lack of Black Widow and Scarlet Witch merchandise for Avengers and Gamora for Guardians of The Galaxy.

Hopefully if people keep asking these kinds of questions and hold companies accountable to represent female characters this can become a thing of the past.


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