Culture

I Have a Bad Feeling About This: Coronavirus Delays Baby Yoda Toys

A Baby Yoda doll, by Mattel, is displayed at Toy Fair New York, in the Javits Convention Center, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Baby Yoda still seems a long time coming from a Chinese factory far, far away.

The global spread of the deadly coronavirus may also delay the arrival of Baby Yoda merchandise. The company Hasbro has confirmed that supply shortages caused by the outbreak will interfere with the production of the highly-anticipated Baby Yoda toys, many of which have already sold out in pre-order. The toys were not available for Christmas 2019 and the delays might get worse.

Jim Silver, CEO of the toy industry review website Toys, Tots, Pets & More, told CNN that he spoke with sources inside the Chinese factories that work with Hasbro and they confirmed that the coronavirus poses a threat to the loveable force-sensitive Child who proved to be a surprise star of The Mandalorian. As of yet, the factories are still operational, but Silver suggested that could change in the next few months.

“If things aren’t normal by the time June and July roll around, there will be shortages on a litany of toys,” Silver said.

The coronavirus may cause a hiccup in the delivery of raw materials for the toys, specifically resins and plastics only available in China. “There was difficulty in obtaining some of these raw materials or the same quantity they want to get,” Silver warned. He anticipated a production decline of 5 percent to 10 percent due to disease, but claims that Hasbro is “close to being able to ship what they originally projected.”

On February 21, Hasbro acknowledged that the coronavirus would pose challenges, The New York Post reported.

“We are working to mitigate the impact of our manufacturing partner factories being closed longer than anticipated, as well as to reschedule the shipments we have not been able to make,” Hasbro CFO Deborah Thomas said in a statement. In a regulatory filing released a week later, the company reported that travel restrictions and quarantines have already interrupted toy assembly.

The company further admitted that the virus “could have a significant negative impact on our revenues, profitability and business.”

The coronavirus has claimed about 3,000 lives, including those of 11 Americans. The virus seems similar to influenza but much about the disease still remains unclear.

Baby Yoda has become a nationwide obsession as The Mandalorian focuses on a bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) who is hired to kill “The Child” but decides to save him, instead. Demand for Baby Yoda merchandise skyrocketed in the leadup to Christmas 2019 but delays in production likely cost the Disney franchise millions as the plush toys were not set to be released until this month.

The coronavirus poses far more significant problems than delays for Baby Yoda toys, but delays still matter to Star Wars fans disappointed with Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker who enjoyed The Mandalorian.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.