Friday, September 4, 2015

Rush starts for 'Force Friday' merchandising onslaught (Norwalk Reflector feature)

Check out this NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper feature written by co-worker Aaron Krause about today's "Star Wars" merchandising onslaught called "Force Friday" in anticipation of the Dec. 18 release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." This story ran in Thursday's issue.

You might recognize one of the "Star Wars" fanatics who was interviewed …! LOL

NORWALK, Ohio — Toys R Us in Sandusky is ready if folks begin forcing their way through the aisles just after midnight tonight to scoop up the 40 feet worth of “Star Wars” merchandise flooding the shelves.

The Sandusky store is hardly the only business that’s stocked up on “Star Wars” merchandise in anticipation of the toy rollout that began at 12:01 a.m. today.

The rollout comes a little more than three months before the Dec. 18 opening of the newest film in the “Star Wars” series. The upcoming film is a continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set 30 years after 1983’s “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.”

“We’re ready to go,” said an assistant manager who declined to identify himself at Sandusky’s Toys R Us.

The supervisor said Toys R Us will close at 9 p.m. today and re-open at 12:01 a.m. Friday and remain open until the "Star Wars" merchandise rush slows down. Sandusky’s Toys R Us will re-open at 10 a.m. Friday and closed at 10 p.m.

A curator of "Star Wars" merchandise will be clad in a Chewbacca costume for about the first half hour after the 12:01 a.m. opening.

Aaron Pratt, assistant manager at the Norwalk Walmart, said the store will have “a few pallets” of "Star Wars" merchandise in the back.

“We’ve got a lot of people that are excited,” Pratt said.

Norwalk residents Cary Ashby and Mike Hainline won’t be among those standing in line before the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. But Ashby said he’s highly anticipating the release of “The Force Awakens.” 

Ashby, a NORWALK REFLECTOR reporter who maintains a blog titled “Cary’s Comics Craze,” said he’s glad J.J. Abrams has directed the upcoming film.

“He’s expressed how much of a 'Star Wars' fanatic he is,” Ashby said. “I really think the 'Star Wars' universe is in great hands.”

Abrams knows what makes the characters and the ”Star Wars“ universe tick, Ashby said.

The Norwalk resident’s passion for "Star Wars" began in 1977, when he was 7 years old. That's when he saw with his parents the first film in the series, which opened in May of that year.

As a Christmas present that year, he received his first set of action figures, representing such characters as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, C-3PO and Princess Leia.

"I was completely geeked when I got my first set of action figures,“ Ashby said.

Following that year, on a regular basis, he’s received "Star Wars" figures as birthday or Christmas gifts.
To this day, he keeps ”every single action figure“ from the three original movies, in a Darth Vader carrying case.

Ashby has seen each of the movies multiple times in the movie theaters, on video and Blu-ray.

Meme by Aaron Dees
What does he like about the "Star Wars" series?

"I really enjoy the sense of hope," he said.

He added the films contain messages about redemption, just like ”any great action movie.“

Another aspect that draws him to "Star Wars" is the fact that in the end, the good guys defeat the bad guys. 

Ashby, however, no longer collects ”Star Wars“ figures because he said he can’t afford them.

That’s also the case with Hainline, 44, who stopped collecting about 10 years ago.

Hainline, who distributes bread to grocery stores, said as a child, he’d collect action figures one night each week or every other week.

"Everything they made, I looked for," he said.

Hainline said he’s seen all the movies (he saw the first three about 100 times each) and has taken his children, ages 12, 13 and 15, who’ve also enjoyed the series.

But you won’t find Hainline standing in line awaiting a store’s 12:01 a.m. opening.

Collecting the figures has become an ”expensive hobby,“ he said.

"I sold almost everything I had," Hainline said.

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