Toymakers claimed that Rey action figures were excluded from much early Star Wars merchandise because Rey’s heroic role was a “spoiler,” not because of the obvious gender bias that has shown up in many other instances with female action figures.
But this week, an anonymous source who was present at some early Star Wars merchandising meetings told the website Sweatpantsandcoffee.com that this initial exclusion was both explicit, and gendered — exactly based around the fear that boys would turn up their noses at playing with a girl toy, and affect the bottom line:
In a series of confidential meetings, the vendors presented their product ideas to tie in with the highly-anticipated new Star Wars film. Representatives presented, pitched, discussed, and agreed upon prototype products. … The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider. “We know what sells,” the industry insider was told. “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”