"Force Friday" is upon us. Toy retailers are gearing up to launch new "Star Wars" products with midnight opening events, giveaways and more around the country.
Counting down to the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," major toy stores, such as Toys R Us, Walmart and the Disney Store are debuting hundreds of toys at 12:01 a.m. on "Force Friday," Sept. 4.
"When the first 'Star Wars' film and products were released in 1977, it represented, in essence, the birth of the modern movie-merchandising business," said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president, industry relations and information of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association. "This marks the first time that Disney and LucasFilms have joined forces for a 'Star Wars' film and associated merchandising. The combination of these two powerhouses combined with the anticipation for the first new 'Star Wars' movie in 10 years makes this time around seem different and special. The unprecedented global plans for 'Force Friday' is something we have never seen before with a consumer products rollout and sets the stage for a marketing effort that will last through the mid-December film release -- and beyond."
Here's a rundown of what you can expect at a few major toy stores:
Toys R Us: The company's international flagship store, Toys R Us Times Square in New York City, will host a "Star Wars" toy exhibition leading up to the midnight opening, welcoming fans with costumed characters, signing events, giveaways and more on Thursday, Sept. 3. The NYC store will also include events such as an art class meet and greet with "Star Wars" and science fiction artist, Jeff Carlisle, "Star Wars" product demonstrations, including "Star Wars"-themed 3-D action figure creation with 3D Plus Me, video gaming and more, a Lego "Star Wars" make and take, a Light Saber Academy with members of the New York Jedi, a community of cosplayers, martial artists and teachers, photo opportunities with costumed characters, including Furbacca, a character versioned after the Hasbro toy that makes wookiee sounds like Chewbacca, Geoffrey the Giraffe and more, cooking decorating, trivia contests and much more.
At 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 4, Toys R Us locations in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. will open for eager fans. The first customers to line up for the debut will receive "Star Wars" giveaways, including an exclusive poster. All the U.S. stores will also open at midnight and families will receive special giveaways, including a limited edition Lego "Star Wars" Commemorative Brick and an exclusive "Star Wars" poster, while supplies last. Visit toysrus.com/StarWars for more information.
Walmart: At 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 4, Walmart will begin their "Force Friday" events in 2,900 Walmart stores. Customers will get their hands on new "Star Wars" toys, including items sold exclusively at Walmart. You'll also have the chance to preorder the Legendary Yoda and check out the "Star Wars" Galactic Connexions trading disc game by Topps. At the midnight events, Walmart will give away a limited edition two-pack of the discs. For more information, visit walmart.com/starwars.
Disney Store: The flagship location in New York City is also hosting midnight events. The first 1,000 guests will receive a free "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" D23 commemorative fan poster. In all Disney Store locations, "Force Friday" day celebrations on Sept. 4 include a galactic twist on the traditional "Unlocking Imagination" ritual. Other activities include a free pin to the first 100 guests who make a purchase on "Force Friday," R2-D2 crafts, "Star Wars" story time and more. For more details, visit disneystore.com/ForceFriday.
Additionally, you can get a sneak peek of new "Star Wars" products in the first-ever global live toy unboxing event on the "Star Wars" YouTube channel. Unfolding over 18 hours in 15 cities and 12 countries, the event will see highlights from the range of merchandise revealed. The live stream kicks off in Sydney, Australia at 7:45 a.m., local time on Thursday, Sept. 3 with a finale at Lucasfilm in San Francisco at 8 a.m. (11 a.m. EST).