Star Wars collecting has been going on since the late 1970's and has done nothing but gain steam over the years. September 4, 2015 - a day known as "Force Friday" occurred in which retailers worldwide released merchandise relating to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The popularity of the franchise has attracted many retailers around the world and has resulted in many companies getting their own exclusives. These exclusives are only available at that particular store and are generally a little more difficult to acquire due to it's limited retailer distribution.
This article will focus on some of the companies that may be overlooked to collectors while leaving out the "big three". Target, Walmart and Toys R Us are very popular locations for collectors and toy hunters to begin their searches. These three have been Star Wars retailers for years and have had many exclusives as the franchise's installments have continued.
One of the biggest surprises among exclusive carriers is Michaels. Michaels specializes in arts and crafts and carries items like paint, frames, sewing supplies, floral decor, jewelry, knitting supplies and more. Does this company have a Star Wars exclusive? You bet! Michaels carries an exclusive poster featuring Kylo Ren and two First Order Stormtroopers.
Game Stop is an electronic store that primarily carries video games, companion guides to these games, controllers, game consoles, and is known for buying and selling used video games. This gaming company recently got their own exclusive Star Wars merchandise. It must be a video game, right? Nope! They had exclusive Battlefront pre-order posters for those who pre-ordered the game before it's November release, as well as a Finn Funko pop figure which can still be found in stores.
Many other stores have exclusive Funko Pops. Some of these unlikely locations include: Barnes and Noble, Hot Topic, and Lootcrate. Barnes and Noble is known for carrying mostly books, Hot Topic is generally clothes and jewelry and Lootcrate is a company that provides monthly mystery boxes geared towards geeks. While it's not necessarily strange that some of these places carry Star Wars merchandise, it it kind of surprising that Barnes and Noble and Lootcrate have their own Funko Pop exclusives. Hot Topic has become somewhat of a Funko Pop mecca over the last few years. To take a closer look at what Hot Topic offers, please visit www.hottopic.com.
Many online retailers are beginning to get in on the action as well. A popular site for geeky merchandise called "Entertainment Earth" has a few different Star Wars exclusives, but the most impressive is the Black Series four-pack exclusive. This set is of the 6-inch scale figures and can only be purchased through their website. Amazon also has a 6-inch Black Series four pack exclusive that can be shipped directly to your house in two days with Amazon Prime.
With the rising popularity of Target and Walmart, many of the Kmart stores have been shut down. The store closing problem is not going to stop Kmart from producing their own store exclusive, however. A Black Series Kylo Ren (Starkiller Base) exclusive of the 6-inch variety can only be found at Kmart. Walgreens drug store has had Star Wars Funko Pop exclusives in the past, but the most recent exclusive is a Black Series 6-inch Darth Vader figure. Neither the Kmart Kylo Ren, nor the Walgreens Darth Vader figure have a sticker indicating it's exclusivity.
Kohls, a department store that focuses mostly on clothes, jewelry and household items, has a toy section the size of most people's dining rooms. This exclusive is a five-pack of action figures of the 3.75 inch scale and it's exclusivity is indicated by a sticker on the front of the package.
Hallmark is typically known for things like greeting/birthday cards and holiday ornaments, but they have their own line of exclusive merchandise. Hallmark's Itty Bitty's have been huge hits among fans of the Star Wars franchise. Itty Bittys are cute little plushies that are perfect for any fan's collection. These items are currently available at your local Hallmark store.
This article touches on just the tip of the iceberg of the Star Wars exclusives in existance. Clothing companies frequently release exclusives as well as the Disney Parks and Disney Stores. Be on the lookout everywhere you go exclusives; even places like 7/11 have had exclusives in the past. Rumor has it that September 30, 2016 will mark the next Force Friday event in which merchandise related to Star Wars: Rogue One will be hitting the shelves. It would not be surprising if more new retailers joined the exclusive bandwagon.
By: Eric Pfeifer