According to an industry insider, the dearth of Rey merchandise for The Force Awakens was no accident — it was an intentional decision.

The inside source shared their story with Michael Boehm at Sweatpants and Coffee, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The portrait painted of Lucasfilm’s decision-making process is disheartening to say the least, and runs distinctly counter to the narrative that Rey toys were postponed to preserve the secrecy of The Force Awakens.

The source alleges that, during toy pitches held last January for executives, “initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently.” But under the direction of the executives, Rey’s presence was deliberately minimized in the planned merchandise.

“One or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products,” Boehm reports. “Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise.”

Allegedly, the industry insider was told, “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”

rey star wars toys

While the word of an anonymous source might be easy to dismiss, the allegations certainly seem to dovetail with what consumers have experienced in stores — and not just for Rey. The mysterious absence of female characters in merchandise and toys is now almost a free-standing trope. Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Gamora, Star Wars Rebels‘ Hera, and The Avengers‘ Black Widow are among the high-profile victims, inexplicably forgotten in everything from play sets to tee-shirts.

“Diminishing of girl characters is common in the industry,” the anonymous source relates. “Power Rangers asked us to do it. Paw Patrol, too.” Allegedly, this philosophy has developed into a solid mandate in the toy industry to “maintain the sharp boy/girl product division” and “marginalize girl characters in items not specifically marketed as girl-oriented.”

But the extreme cultural impact of Star Wars, coupled with Rey’s inarguable prominence in The Force Awakens, has thrust the question of “Where’s Rey?” (and its corresponding hashtag) into the spotlight. Most notably, Hasbro was recently compelled to reassure fans that the movie’s main character would be included in an upcoming Monopoly set.

Corroborating the Lucasfilm insider’s assertions is John Marcotte, founder of the non-profit Heroic Girls.

“I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters,” he tells Boehm. “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of.”

“Now they’re stuck with vast amounts of Kylo Ren product that is not moving, and a tidal wave of complaints about a lack of Rey items.”

It even seems possible that Lucasfilm’s underestimation of Rey’s popularity extended into their plans for Episode VIII. According to several sources, the recently-announced delay on the film is partly do to script revisions — which will bring the characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe into greater prominence than initially planned.

It’s not unusual for companies to misjudge the popularity of their properties; anyone buying toys in 1997 will remember a Phantom Menace market flooded with Darth Maul and Jar Jar merchandise. But properties focused on, or even including girls, seems disproportionately afflicted. It’s hard to believe now, but even Disney’s blockbuster princess hit Frozen was unprepared, forcing parents to take desperate measures to satisfy children who wanted to bring Anna, Elsa, and Olaf into their lives.

For far too long, fans searching for merchandise of their favorite female characters have been told that the onus is on their wallets. “Buy the toys that are out there,” the message has echoed, even as fans scour the unyielding shelves for a green-skinned assassin, a black-clad Avenger — and now a fearless young woman who hums with the power of the Force.

It is time to reverse the conversation. Toy and merchandise companies must stop taking a character’s gender into consideration when including them in products. Put Gamora with the rest of the Guardians. Leave Black Widow on her motorcycle. And when Star Wars: Episode VIII finally arrives, don’t make us ask “Where’s Rey?”

We should find her in the center of the action. On toy pegs, on tee-shirts, on bed sheets, and pencil-cases. Rey should be everywhere.

Right where she belongs.

More Star Wars on Hypable:

Is Star Wars setting up Poe Dameron as its first queer protagonist?

Star Wars deja-vu: All the parallels between Episodes IV and VII

Princess Leia: Leader, warrior, feminist BAMF

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ audiences urge skeptics to see it live

Sucks for those who can't, though.

10:31 am EDT, July 1, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been playing in London for three weeks, and the verdict is clear: It’s a massive hit with attendees. Beware of opinions.

Note: There are NO SPOILERS for Cursed Child in this article, but if you don’t even want to know what people — including this writer — thought about the experience overall, this is not for you.

Cursed Child, the Harry Potter stageplay and official ‘eighth story’ in the J.K. Rowling saga, has been in previews since June 7. Its world premiere is July 31, with the script book being made available worldwide on the same date.

A number of Hypable staff members managed to secure tickets for the first ever showing on June 7 and 9, and have since participated in the online discussion of both the overall experience and the specific plot developments in more-or-less spoiler-free ways.

We’ve got spoiler-free text and podcast reviews, and both MuggleCast and Hype Podcast have recorded spoiler breakdowns for those who’ve seen the play and want to discuss it with fellow fans, or those who’ve read spoilers and want to know what the experience of the play is actually like.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans have been sharing their initial thoughts to the experience on both Tumblr and Twitter, and the reactions have been almost unanimously positive. Even Mark Hamill himself was impressed.

Here’s a small sample of raving Twitter reviews from happy theatergoers (and oh! A wild Rebel Wilson appeared):

What’s great about this immense outpouring of positivity is that it serves as a much-needed counter-spell to the overwhelmingly negative reactions to the Cursed Child spoiler breakdowns that began hitting the web after the first preview performance.

As someone who has seen the play, and who has been very outspoken about my disappointment with the plot, I can absolutely attest to the play being mind-blowing, phenomenal, life-changing, beautiful, etc. The acting, the production, the emotional resonance and the relationships are all top-notch. I recommend everyone, including the skeptics, to watch the play live if they can, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll be as blown away as I was.

And I’d love to join the chorus of play attendees telling their fellow fans to stop being so negative, because the play itself is fantastic. Everyone standing up for the play, and everyone insisting that plot breakdowns are underselling the overall experience, are right.

Related: Dear J.K. Rowling: Please make The Cursed Child available to all

The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of Harry Potter fans won’t be able to share in the actual experience of Cursed Child. They won’t get to see Anthony Boyle slay as Scorpius Malfoy; they won’t be blown away by the magic or the music or Noma Dumezweni. They’ll just have the very plot that has fans so up-in-arms on social media.

And that makes this entire ‘eighth story’ situation feel bittersweet at best.

As one attendee writes on Tumblr, “What may sound funny or ridiculous on page works so well live.” Another adds, “The idea on paper may seem weird, but it actually works really well on stage.” Yet another says, “Seeing the play itself put everything in context and everything worked and made sense.”

In this context, J.K. Rowling’s #KeepTheSecrets plea makes a whole new kind of sense. Focus on the positives. Don’t share the plot spoilers, because they’ll leave a bad taste in your mouth, and you wouldn’t want the Cursed Child experience ruined for the people who’ll actually get to see it live. You wouldn’t want everyone working on the production — most notably the phenomenal actors — to feel like the job they do every night isn’t appreciated or applauded.


But what happens on July 31, when the story is let out into the world without the context these fans are so intent on everyone else appreciating? What happens when the script falls into eager fans’ hands, who couldn’t care less about the magical staging and phenomenal acting? Is #KeepTheSecrets all about getting enough fans to London to see the play live, in order to be able to stand up for it when the story is released? Is that why the preview period is so long?

Of course, the jury’s still out on whether the script book will manage to contextualize the plot points so hard to swallow in synopsis form. I’m still hoping the character moments will overshadow the major plot issues that are currently enraging everyone who’s reading spoilers, but I’m honestly not convinced.

Based on fandom reactions to in-depth spoiler breakdowns, I’m just not sure the plot can stand on its own; there’s a reason J.K. Rowling insisted this story had to be a play, and why she was averse to the script book being published at all. But considering the medium of Harry Potter has always been novels — putting story over visuals by default — asking fans to swallow the overall Cursed Child experience when most will only get to read the script seems like a losing battle.

Related: Why J.K. Rowling’s opinion on Cursed Child spoilers shouldn’t matter

To me, the experience of Cursed Child on stage and its on-paper value as ‘the eighth story’ could not be more divorced from one another. While I adored the experience, my need for the Harry Potter universe to make sense and for the story to live up to the book series simply overrides my appreciation for a good day at the theatre.

So, when fans tell each other, “You need to see the play to understand,” that’s inherently problematic, because the Harry Potter fandom has never before encouraged this borderline elitist division between those who are able and wealthy enough to experience a new Harry Potter story the way it was meant to be experienced, and those who aren’t.

This has all just left the Harry Potter fandom in a weird place. Official channels are asking/telling/demanding that play attendees are keeping mum about the plot, while encouraging them to share their positive reactions to the theater experience. Which most won’t ever get to have.

I suppose the takeaway from all of this is simple: If you get the chance to watch Cursed Child live, take it. And, if you’re waiting for the script book, do and feel however the heck you want — just try to remember that this was never meant to be a book. It was meant to be a visual, partially exclusive experience. And in that format, it works beautifully.

The Everything Wrong With Tarzan breakdown comes just in time for the live-action version — which sounds like it’ll be much worse.

The CinemaSins crew have put together an Everything Wrong With video for Tarzan, Disney’s 1999 animated feature starring Elsa and Anna’s little brother (wait, that’s canon, right?).

Ultimately, this video is the epitome of grumpy old man being fed up with bullshit, and we love every second of it:

Essentially, this video is very confused about Disney’s classification of gorillas, their abilities, mating rituals, and knowledge about piranhas.

Related: New Legend of Tarzan trailer finds Alexander Skarsgard and his 8-pack running wild

It’s also probably not so enjoyable for anyone who actually enjoyed Tarzan, but for those jaded ancients like undersigned who felt ‘too old’ for Disney films when this came out in 1999 (I was like 10 years old), it’s highly amusing.

So, what’s the verdict? Did CinemaSins just shit on your childhood, or are you, too, a Tarzan skeptic?

Meanwhile we’ve got yet another incarnation of Tarzan to look forward to, in The Legend of Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie, and directed by David Yates.

Unfortunately, that one probably won’t get much better treatment in its inevitable Everything Wrong With video, seeing as it’s being slammed by critics.

“The imperative to produce a viable box-office entertainment trumps The Legend of Tarzan‘s noble intentions at every turn,” writes The BBC, with Empire scathingly deeming it, “Not so much a ripping yarn, more of a dripping yarn.”

Big fandom crossover news today! Harry Potter alum Tom Felton has booked a regular TV role on The CW’s The Flash.

According to TV Line, the Draco Malfoy actor will be playing Julian Dorn, “a fellow CSI at the Central City Police Department who suspects there’s more to Barry Allen [played by Grant Gustin] than just his good guy reputation.”

The character appears to be entirely new, and not pulled from the comic series that The CW drama is based on.

Felton has booked a slew of roles since his time playing Draco Malfoy in the eight-part Harry Potter series, but a series regular role on The Flash will arguably be his biggest post-Potter gig to date.

Last month we learned that The Flash was bringing back Tom Cavanagh. Like Felton, he’ll be a series regular.

Felton’s Harry Potter co-star Rupert Grint booked a starring role in a new CBS series co-starring Stephen Fry a couple years ago, but the network decided against ordering a full season. Looks like Felton will have better luck breaking into American television.

The Flash returns October 4. See a complete list of 2016 Fall TV premiere dates here!