Disappointment for Star Wars fans stuck with ordering new toys online

The UAE will not be included in Force Friday, the September 4 global launch of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens range of toys and collectibles, leaving frustrated fans ordering them online.

Darth Vader figurine. Courtesy Hasbro / AP Photo
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Abu Dhabi was a key location during filming of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, but the UAE has been passed over during the global launch of the new range of toys and merchandise that tie into the film.

While the products will hit stores in selected countries around the world at midnight on Friday, September 4, which has been dubbed Force Friday, local fans will have to resort to online shopping to get their hands on them.

There is plenty for collectors to get excited about, but when contacted, staff

at the UAE’s leading stores for toys and collectables – Toys R Us, Hamleys, Virgin Megastores, Comicave and Geekay – were not aware of the global event.

With all the hype around the movie, and the part Abu Dhabi played in the filming, fan Jullz Vek was sure she'd be able to get her hands on some of the tie-ins on Friday. The 21-year-old student, a self-professed Star Wars addict, is disappointed that local stores are not taking part in the launch and thinks it is because creators aren't aware of the legions of fans in the Middle East. "The UAE is a new sector for the movie industry and they are probably not sure of the fanfare here," she says. Vek says her wardrobe has plenty of Star Wars designs. She also has Darth Vader and Yoda ­figurines.

She is particularly keen to get her hands on a model of the new football-shaped BB-8 droid, which can be controlled using a smartphone. It will reportedly cost about US$150 (Dh550).

Dubai-based filmmaker Faisal Hashmi, 25, says he had been expecting the UAE to be part of the launch on Friday.

“It’s quite sad that an event of this nature, especially when a part of the movie was shot here, isn’t part of global launch,” he says. “There is a huge fan following here and it would have been a nice gesture to hold it here, too.”

Hashmi, whose collection includes a life-size R2-D2 model and a lightsaber, says he is excited about the rumoured merchandise, particularly the redesigned lightsabers.

"The new design looks more gritty and darker than the older ones," he says. "That would be a cool addition to my Star Wars stash."

If the products don’t show up in the UAE soon, he might buy them online.

“I’m hoping it will be locally available, or else I’ll look for them on Amazon or other websites,” he says.

Kevin Sebastian, a 25-year-old media consultant in Dubai, has been a Star Wars fan since his school days. He has T-shirts, an R2-D2 figure, Han Solo Lego set and a miniature X-Wing fighter model.

“I’m going to get the new Lego set because I like building stuff,” he says. “I’m also pre-ordering a customised lightsaber from the US.”

Anastasia Mankhaeda, a fan of several sci-fi franchises, says she’d be “at the front of the line” if the merchandise was being launched at midnight here.

She says she has to purchase her collectables from overseas.

“The selection here is quite limited and the only good things you can pick up are often at ­Comic-Con,” she says.

Since the release of the original Star Wars movie in 1977, the merchandise has raked in more than Dh17 billion for the creators.

To be part of the action, use #ForceFriday and #MidnightMadness on social media, follow @starwars on Twitter and check the official Star Wars YouTube channel. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits cinemas December 18

aahmed@thenational.ae