NEW YORK • A hamster-sized BB-8 droid and an updated Millennium Falcon spacecraft emerged as some of the most talked-about new Star Wars toys on Thursday as stores opened at midnight around the world, including Singapore, for first sales of merchandise for the upcoming movie The Force Awakens.
Fans, some dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers or Sand People, thronged stores in Australia and Japan following an 18-hour marathon global Walt Disney "unboxing" event online in which 13 of the new products were unwrapped.
"We're the first ones in the world to get our hands on it, what can be better than that? They're new Star Wars toys, they're the first ones in the world, you just can't beat it," said Mr Matthew Jones in Sydney, Australia, as the products went on sale at midnight at a Target store.
In Singapore, hundreds of fans thronged United Square yesterday at midnight for the preview sale. Many were dressed as characters from Star Wars.
The roll-out is part of a huge merchandising effort by Disney and toy makers, including Hasbro and Lego, ahead of the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens - the first in a new Star Wars trilogy. The new movie brings back original 1977 cast members Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
Dubbed Force Friday, toy stores worldwide encouraged fans to dress up as their favourite Star Wars characters as the new lightsabers, Lego models, action figures and spaceships went on sale.
An orange-and-white cylindrical BB-8 droid that can move, talk and be controlled through a smartphone app was trending on Twitter on Thursday, hours before stores opened in Europe or the United States. At the preview sale in Singapore, 90 per cent of it was sold.
Sphero, a technology firm based in Boulder, Colorado, unveiled the first photographs of the toy on Thursday and it became the darling of several technology sites.
BB-8 is seen speeding along in the film's previously released trailer.
Vanity Fair magazine judged the toy so adorable that it recruited a handful of puppies to play with it and featured the video on its website.
A remote-controlled Millennium Falcon spacecraft, piloted in the Star Wars universe by Han Solo and Chewbacca, also proved an early favourite on social media.
American furniture retailer Pottery Barn announced separately that it was making a kid's bed styled after the spacecraft.
In New York's Times Square, Toys 'R' Us chief global merchandising officer Richard Barry said he expects kids and collectors alike to buy the new toys.
"You're going to see products imagined in a different way, using new technology and innovation and allowing kids to live out the Star Wars saga in a way that has never been possible before," he said.