'Star Wars' Property Dominates the U.S. Toy Business

Jay Cochran - October 27, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 27, 2005--According to recent industry figures from The NPD Group, "Star Wars" toys have become the No. 1 best-selling toy property in the country since "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" opened to record-breaking business in May.

Dominating the U.S. toy business, "Star Wars" toys commanded a mammoth 9.1 percent of total licensed and branded toy sales in the period from May through July -- 60 percent ahead of the next leading toy property, according to figures compiled by The NPD Group. "Star Wars" toys also were ranked as the top-selling boys' property, fueling double-digit growth in the key categories of action figures and accessories and building sets compared to the same time period last year, NPD reported.

Toys based on Episode III first went on sale April 2, six weeks prior to the film's May 19 premiere, and from the very first weekend sell-through significantly exceeded expectations. Lucasfilm Ltd.'s major toy licensees are Hasbro Inc. and LEGO Group.

"2005 is proving to be a watershed year for 'Star Wars,'" said Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing, the consumer products division of Lucasfilm Ltd. "The film has clearly struck a cord with consumers around the world, our toy products have never been better, and retailers have out-done themselves with focused, impactful programs. The biggest problem we've faced has been keeping 'Star Wars' toys in stock," he added.

Brian Goldner, President of Hasbro's U.S. Toy Segment, said, "We worked very closely with Lucasfilm and our retailers to bring to market one of the most highly anticipated 'Star Wars' toy and game lines ever. From our basic action figures to our immensely popular Darth Vader Voice Changer, we are thrilled that Hasbro's line has resonated with both kids and collectors. The excitement is sure to continue both in the fall and in 2006 as we bring many great new 'Star Wars' toys and games to market."

To date, Episode III has grossed more than $846 million worldwide, making it by far the top grossing movie of the year both in the U.S. and internationally. The Episode III DVD and the sequel to LucasArts Entertainment's bestselling "Star Wars" video game, "Battlefront II," simultaneously debut Nov. 1.

"Retailers are telling us that they expect 'Star Wars' to perform strongly throughout the all-important holiday season and well into 2006," Roffman said. "It feels like 1977 all over again. To see this level of success almost 30 years later confirms that 'Star Wars' has become a staple in the toy aisles. When we say '"Star Wars" is forever,' we mean it."

Leading retailer Target Corp. said "Star Wars" toys have been top sellers throughout its chain. "Our partnership with Lucasfilm has generated outstanding sales and allowed us to better meet the wants and needs of Target guests," said Target's vice president, Toys, Keri Jones.

Since the "Star Wars" phenomenon began in 1977 with the release of George Lucas' initial film in the six-movie saga, more than $9 billion of products had been sold at retail worldwide -- before the release of "Revenge of the Sith." "Star Wars" products generated $2 billion in worldwide retail sales in 1999, the year that Episode I "The Phantom Menace" was released. They sold another $1.2 billion in the wake of Episode II "Attack of the Clones" in 2002.

"We expected that sales based on Episode III would be somewhere in between those two figures, with a hope of reaching $1.6 billion at retail," Roffman said. "Based on sales to date and with the bulk of retail sales yet to come in the fourth quarter, we believe we're on track to substantially exceed that figure."


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