Disney announced a marathon worldwide roll-out of Star Wars toys next week for the upcoming The Force Awakens movie, in a promotional push that seeks to capture the excitement that once greeted new Harry Potter book releases.
The toys will be introduced online over an 18-hour period in 15 cities and 12 nations beginning in Sydney, Australia early on 3 September, Disney said.
Selections of the new toys, as well as comics, books and clothing, will then go on sale in stores around the world, with many opening at midnight. Book stores in many nations held midnight parties for fans eager to get their hands on the new books during the Harry Potter publishing phenomenon of the early 2000's.
Steve Sansweet, President and CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan, a museum that houses the world's largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, said Star Wars fans have always loved collecting merchandise.
"Collecting has always been an important part of Star Wars fandom, even from the beginning. It was really important for kids and later collectors to be able to have something of Star Wars, especially in the early days before home video. You could recreate scenes, wear costumes. It was a way of bringing Star Wars into your home," he said.
The toy roll-out is part of a huge merchandising effort by Disney ahead of the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney is calling the event Force Friday.
"Every lightsaber, every action figure, every costume, every box of Lego tells a story for generations of fans. And this global celebration continues to tell those stories and new ones that we're excited for on Force Friday," said Josh Silverman, EVP of Global Licensing at Disney Consumer Products.
Disney earlier this month announced partnerships with seven global brands, including cereal maker General Mills, car maker Fiat Chrysler, and make-up line Covergirl.
Japan's biggest airline, ANA, has also announced that three of its planes will be decorated with Star Wars characters and that they will offer all six of the current Star Wars movies as part of their in-flight entertainment.
The Star Wars YouTube channel will host the livestream of the unboxing event in which each of the 15 locations around the world will reveal a new product, ending with San Francisco on the morning of 3 September. Fans will be encouraged to Tweet their comments with the Twitter hashtag #ForceFriday.