“Already know you that which you need.” – Yoda.
When it comes to merchandising, nobody in the world does it like the good old U.S.A.
We sell sunscreen to the Eskimos and space heaters in the Sahara. Using catch phrases, we sell each other interminable amounts of stuff. Things go better with Coke? You bet.
The world is our mall.
Take the lowly pumpkin. As I wrote in a column last month, ever since Starbucks foisted the oddly popular Pumpkin Spice Latte on an unsuspecting nation, the bulbous orange squash has achieved cult status.
We have been deluged with pumpkin lattes, marshmallows, Pringles, Pop Tarts, cookies, cereal, ice cream, M&Ms, beer, air freshener, lotion, shampoo, candles and whiskey. There are even pumpkin dog treats.
But that’s nothing compared to the avalanche of products that is being unleashed in connection with the release of the new “Star Wars” movie, “The Force Awakens.”
It’s not the first “Star Wars” movie, there have been many others. But the hype for this newest version is spreading at warp speed thanks in large part to the media which can’t churn out enough glowing stories about it.
Ticket sales could hit $1 billion, maybe even $2 billion. But that’s chump change compared to what movie-related merchandise might bring in. That pencils out to around $5 billion.
It’s the kind of money that could furnish every man, woman and child in the U.S. with their own light saber.
And what do you get for your hard-earned cash?
There’s a Princess Lea dress ($54.95) or, if you’ve gone over to the Dark Side, a Darth Vader cape dress ($47.95). Wear either with a pair of C-3PO flats ($111.65) or R2-D2 slipper boots ($18.55).
After a busy day cruising the galaxy, tuck yourself in to some “Star Wars” poster sheets ($31.15) and pull up the “Star Wars” comforter ($48.65).
Surround yourself with items like a “Star Wars” water bottle ($8.75), and R2-D2 wallet ($11.55), and R2-D2 cupcake pan ($13.65), Yoda plush slippers ($17.15), an Ewok hoodie ($58.50) or a Millennium Falcon chopping board ($22.75).
But wait! There’s more:
“Star Wars” dog tags ($7), R2-D2 can coolers ($7), or a Chewbacca can cooler ($13), Death Star ice sphere mold ($13), light saber chop sticks ($15), Darth Vader oven mitt ($15), R2-D2 hip flask ($16), Death Star tea infuser ($20), Millennium Falcon owner’s manual ($23) and light saber barbecue tongs ($30).
Rounding out the selection: a Death star waffle maker ($39.99), “Star Wars” multivitamin gummies, “Star Wars” soups, “Star Wars” coffee mate (prices vary), “Star Wars” apples and oranges.
For the fan who has everything, there’s a Millennium Falcon bed, yours for $4000.
There’s more, much more. But it gets bewildering. Target, the big-box retailer, now has nearly 900 “Star Wars” products listed for sale on its website—787 of which are tagged with “The Force Awakens.”
Who dreams up this stuff?
That’s not clear but what is evident is that Disney, which paid $4 billion to purchase LucasFilm, creators of the “Star Warrs" franchise, is trying to wring every cent they can from their acquisition by licensing their asset to anyone with money to spend.
It’s not a tough sell.
"If you're a (consumer) product, and you have an opportunity to license 'Star Wars' and possibly get incremental sales, you will take it," Rebecca Brooks, co-founder and partner at marketing research firm Alter Agent, said in an interview.
In the meantime, if you think the people who collect “Star Wars" stuff are space cadets, consider this:
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s cloak sold for $104,000.
A Chewbacca head mask worn by Peter Mayhew was sold by Profile in History, an auction house, for $120,000.
Hans Solo’s blaster from “Return of the Jedi” sold for $201,000.
A miniature TIE fighter, specifically the one that collided with Darth Vader in the hidden depths of the Death Star in “Episode IV, A New Hope” went for $402,000.
Luke Skywalker’s light saber, sold from the collection of movie producer Gary Kurtz, gained bids up to $240,000.
The Panavision PR 35mm camera George Lucas used in filming “A New Hope” sold at auction for $625,000.
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com. Follow him on Twitter at @robertrector 1.