Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 was sort of a stressful night for me. Not only did I have to exit my house around 9:45 PM, leaving my pregnant wife with our near-2-year-old first child, but I had an online fantasy football draft that night as well. That went smoothly as far as I can remember, and I was out of the house a little before ten. I was not crazy about standing in line for multiple hours, so after dropping by Target and driving through the parking lot of Toys-R-Us, I decided to drive to a Walmart about 15 minutes away. I pulled into the mostly deserted parking lot around twenty after ten.
I walked inside, hardly seeing a soul, and walked over to the toy aisle. There was nothing there. Confused, I walked back over toward the main center aisle. Hoping, that just maybe, they were setting up a separate display. As I cut over to a main aisle, I found it — multiple sets of the first waves of the 6-inch The Black Series and the single-carded 3.75-in figures. Score!
After admiring the figures for a few minutes, I looked around and could not believe there was NO ONE around. Eventually, a pleasant Walmart employee came by and began setting up a table nearby. I asked her if I could buy these figures. She said no, that they could not sell them until midnight, but to stick around because she was about to put a Star Wars cake out. Jackpot, indeed.
She finished setting up the table and walked away, so I decided to see if I could get one of the figures to ring up. I grabbed the 6-inch The Black Series Kylo Ren and took him to the self-checkout. As expected, it would not ring up. Then I decided to feign ignorance and go to a staffed checkout. Kylo would not ring up there either, and the cashier was baffled by this- clearly no one had told her about the Force Friday festivities.
It was only about [10:40] PM at this point, and there were literally no other Force Friday patrons in sight, so I decided to put Kylo back and try driving to another store. Stupid decision, I know, and as soon as I left the parking lot I asked myself ‘what in the hell are you doing!?’ I basically drove around the block and headed back to Walmart.
When I got back and headed back to the display, there was actually another fan there. I kind of hovered around the display, checking everything out, trying to restrain myself from adding one of everything to my cart. We began chatting and I told him about my unsuccessful attempt to purchase Kylo — he had done the same exact thing. Once we built a little rapport, I put one of each of the single carded 3.75-inch figures and of the 6-inch The Black Series figures, in my shopping cart. Content to wait out the clock and relieved that my gamble to leave, and return, did not result in a big loss. I walked numerous laps around the mostly empty store and jumped in the checkout lane right at midnight.
I left Walmart at approximately [12:05] AM. The night was relatively young, so despite the fact that I had to work in the morning, and since Target and Toys-R-Us were on the way home anyway, making a couple more stops seemed appropriate. Toys-R-Us was 10-12 minutes away back toward my house, and I marched into Toys-R-Us at about [12:20] AM. I scored a Kylo Ren poster and then set out to find the Star Wars toys. I was surprised that there was not a dedicated Star Wars: The Force Awakens toy display, and completely shocked to walk into the toy aisle and there be absolutely nothing left.
‘Thank you, Walmart’, I thought. I considered myself lucky to get the poster at Toys-R-Us as I got the heck out of there to head to my final stop before going home — Target.
Inside Target was much the same scene — only here there was still a line, and the frustration emanating from it was palpable. Apparently, they were only letting 3-5 people at a time into the aisles. The people in the line were not happy, and word began to leak from those exiting the aisle that all of the action figures were cleaned out. At this point it was around [12:45] AM, all the figures were gone from the two retailers advertising Force Friday, so I went home a satisfied customer ONLY because I got lucky and went to the right Walmart.
The next day I left work early and picked up a few books and vehicles — but did not see any action figures anywhere. That afternoon and the for the remainder of the weekend I listened to multiple podcasts and kept up with many threads on Twitter that all reported similar things nationally that I observed at my local Toys-R-Us and Target — pegs picked clean in 10-20 minutes time.
It was incredible to hear that the general lack of product and poor planning was a national phenomenon, that most people went home empty-handed, or at best with 1-2 picked-over figures or a Furbacca. Stories like mine were few and far between that weekend, and I think that is why I love thinking about/telling this story: for once, I was the lucky one who happened upon the entire first waves and had my pick of the litter.
So this year as Rogue Friday approaches, I am scoping out my lucky Walmart, attempting to gather any hints that point toward this situation occurring again. One thing is for certain: I will be at that Walmart at 10 PM (or earlier!) on Thursday, September 29th in hopes of duplicating my Force Friday experience before hitting the other retailers!
Do you have a story from Force Friday 2015? If so, please post it in the comments for a chance to win a FREE boxed action figure (I have mostly 6-inch Black Series, some 3.75-in Black Series, including the elusive Han/Leia/Phasma wave, and a few carded 5POA figures). I will contact those who comment in chronological order and send my extra figure list through email so winners can pick the figure of his/her choice. This giveaway is limited to five (5) winners.
Thanks everyone, have a lucky Rogue Friday, and happy hunting! I will be back next month to share my experience.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!
Jett, out. *
- Remember: Share your Force Friday story for a chance to win a FREE MIB 6-inch or 3.75-inch figure!