Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Live Toy Unboxings

Variety Reports:

Hoping to raise awareness of and ignite excitement for Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise and the upcoming movie, Disney kicked off a rolling series of live toy unboxings featuring YouTube creators around the world.

The toy unboxing event will span 18 hours. YouTubers in Disney’s Maker Studios network in 15 cities in 12 countries will offer a first look at the range of merchandise from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Among the first toys unveiled: large-size action figures of villain Kylo Ren and a First Order Stormtrooper; Poe Dameron’s X-wing fighter from Lego; Hot Wheels’ Escape from Jakku Starship playset; and the BladeBuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber from Hasbro.

The first reveal was in Sydney, Australia, by Bratayley, a family of digital stars affiliated with Maker, who unboxed the Jedi Master Lightsaber on a set overlooking Sydney Harbour. The event rolls through Asia, Europe, Canada, South America and the U.S. overnight into Thursday morning.

The YouTube unboxing videos will lead up to “Force Friday,” an event where retailers around the globe, including Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart, Target and Disney Store locations, will open their doors at midnight Thursday, Sept. 4, to start selling the merch. The toys also will be available to purchase at

On Thursday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” also is slated to broadcast unboxings live from New York. The toy launch will conclude in San Francisco at Lucasfilm, the home of Star Wars, where a broader collection of products will be showcased.

Even for Disney, the massive merchandise launch is unprecedented, leading up to the release of the first Star Wars movie in 10 years, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits theaters December 18.

Disney Consumer Products chose to reveal the Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise in partnership Maker, given the popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube. Of the top 100 most viewed YouTube channels worldwide, 18 are dedicated to toys and toy unboxings; Maker pulls in 1.5 billion views per month on its unboxing channels alone. The toy launch presented Disney with a clear opportunity to exploit Maker’s digital reach — and leverage the Mouse House’s $500 million-plus acquisition of the multi-channel network.

Makers on board for the event include traditional toy unboxers like EvanTubeHD (New York), lifehack specialists such as ExpCaseros (Mexico City) and gamers such as AlexBy11 (Spain).  The main thing they have in common is that they are all massive Star Wars fans and can’t wait to share their experiences.

While Disney’s unique YouTube-centric “Star Wars” toy launch is bound to build buzz and fanboy/girl enthusiasm for the brand, it’s not clear whether the strategy will ultimately deliver a bigger sales punch than conventional marketing would have. The legions of multi-generational “Star Wars” fans, it’s safe to assume, would have opened their wallets regardless of the staggered toy-unboxing hoopla.

The initial “Force Friday” promo is aimed at collectors and adult fans who have an affinity to the Star Wars brand.  The broader kid-centric market will pick up closer to the holiday season at the beginning of November, when marketing for the film will hit hyperspeed. Disney does run the risk of over-saturating the market with Star Wars hype.