Updated: Oct 5, 2019
Here in the UK, I think it is fair to say that Triple Force Friday did not live up to they hype put into it by both the Disney/Star Wars teams - but also by sites like ourselves. All of us built up Triple Force Friday to what we all hoped would be a huge launch of new Star Wars product.
In US we are seeing collectors scooping up product from Target and Walmart in person with "scores" being proudly shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And even in Australia, a country often on par with the UK in terms of availability, had on the shelf options and availability.
What happened here in the UK was quite the opposite. I sit here now as the 4th of October draws to a close and have no new Star Wars product in hand to review or enjoy, the first time this has happened across any of the previous Force Fridays.
On the Pegs?
With the absence of Toys R Us we knew that actually on the shelf product would be limited. The hopes of collectors finding anything laid predominantly with Forbidden Planet and Disney Store. Sadly neither delivered. The Disney stores opened at 9am on Friday with a new Star Wars section and with some new product like the Vintage Series and their own items including clothing and figurines - but no Black Series or more collector focused items.
Forbidden Planet stores also have the limited Vintage figures, but nearly all their Black Series orders were delayed. That meant even the flagship London store opening at midnight only had the Elite Snowtrooper Exclusive on sale. FP stocks will start to land from the 8th October so there is hope, just a few days late.
Smyths joined the Force Friday party late, but initially in a big way with the announcement of their First Order Jet Trooper Carbonized Exclusive and Black Series stocks going live at midnight.
Again disappointment followed. While some of the figures went up just after 12.30am, none were in actually stock. Those visiting stores on Triple Force Friday may be lucky to find the Remote Control D-0 droid and nothing else. Again delays have put pay to anything being on the shelf, not even their own exclusive. They were even promoting Jurassic World on Friday AM with no mention of Star Wars anywhere. It seems the Smyths stock is now expected around the 14th of October (10-days) late and their own exclusive is being quoted as arriving at some point after the 31st of October.
The Entertainer did sent out a Force Friday email circular and had made some effort in stores. But the majority of this was new Funko (arriving on the 5th) and Lego stock. This was then coupled with the clearance Star Wars items they've been stocking for the last few months. The Galaxy of Adventures figures are incoming into The Entertainer later in October.
Asda, when asked, have given a vague response of some new product in stores from 17th of October, and are the only one of the big supermarkets to confirm anything.
Most of the online attention was towards Star Action Figures who have secured the new Carbonized Mandalorian as an exclusive and had heavily promoted this and their midnight launch. This demand at Star Action Figures was likely further increased when many other sites started talking about delays at UK customs impacting the basic Mandalorian figure and the Jawa.
At midnight the Star Action Figures site pretty much went down and stayed inaccessible for most for at least the next couple of hours. Some orders got through, others partially and sadly instead of packing new orders overnight and into Force Friday the SAF team are still working through the system to ensure those who did pay have an order confirmation. I tip my hat to the team for staying with it most of the night and keeping people updated.
Sites like In Demand and Kapow suffered similar issues - although not quite as bad. I did manage to place an order with Kapow that looks to be arriving on Monday. Other online stores like Geeky Nerd Toys and Darkside Toys, with likely lower volumes of traffic, were probably the biggest winners as other sites struggled with volume and they captured the orders for the product they had in stock.
One site that will never have volume issues is Amazon, and they were fine all night. The problem here was the distinct lack of any product. Their exclusive Carbonized Sith Trooper, expected to be up at midnight, was a no-show until the very early hours and was then a pre-order for the 11th of October and not in stock. Oddly, Amazon also listed the Carbonized Jet Trooper (Smyths) and Mandalorian (Star Action Figures) for pre-order - we will have to see if these are honoured?
So what could you buy?
While the Vintage 3.75" figures seem to be in good supply online and via Disney and Forbidden Planet, it was the Black Series that seemed to suffer on Force Friday.
Cal Kestis, Rey, Kylo, Stormtrooper, Second Sister and Sith Trooper seemed to be the main stocks and anyone ordering these should start to get them Saturday onwards. The Sith Trooper did seem to sell out at a number of places.
There was also availability on the white box first editions which sites were selling as cases only, that seemed to be the easiest way to secure the wave if you had the £150 - £160 cash spare and could get on the sites offering those bundles. Sadly I do not expect to see the First Edition boxes anywhere on UK shelves.
The Mandalorian exclusive sold out at Star Action Figures, but more are due next week. The basic Mando figure apparently never made it past customs, stuck alongside the Jawa. The other Carbonized figures were mixed with some imported stock listed on other sites - the Second Sister seemed to be fairly widespread to having come in from Diamond Comics.
The next few weeks will see the stock issues easing, and we will also have new items like the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and Purge Trooper arriving. Everyone will get the figures they want, and I even think some like Rey and Kylo will end up discounted - potentially even before the movie lands.
Longer term, and if we do get a similar Force Friday event in the future, it seems expectations should be better managed by all parties. Had the "product launch" been on Friday with stocks then coming online for pre-order in stages the expectation of having it in hand on the same day would have been negated and the possible demand on websites spread out.
The other option is to do the global reveal, then open the pre orders ahead of Force Friday letting the online stores pick and pack and dispatch for the day - especially if the stores here in the UK are reluctant to put new stock on shelves....
For now, let's enjoy the popularity of Star Wars - after all it very nearly broke the internet. Play some Battlefront, listen to some John Williams, stick on your favourite (mine is Return of the Jedi) and enjoy your Friday.
May The Force Be With You
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"F5 "This website cant be reached" F5 "This website cant be reached" for 2 hours, but eventually got everything I wanted. Bloody knackered though as I had to get up early for work and only had 3 hrs kip😴"
"The only experience iv had so far has been refreshing a Web page at midnight and getting nowhere fast"
"Store wise there isn't one haha but online was fun last night."
"I’ll be honest it was rubbish.
UK shops claiming they had exclusive figures to their stores to drive sales and the figures were US exclusives which they managed to get a handful of.
Then hardly anything worth staying up late for as most stores websites crashed out."
"Managed to get everything after the 12.01 meltdown, F5'ing between IDT and Kapow until almost 2 am, dropped into my local Smyths at 9am to see about their 'exclusive' only to find nothing but a couple of those plastic lightsabers, the manager told me everything was a big secret because of the new movie coming out, secret my **** your shop is useless"