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Star Wars toy sales top $A1b

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Star Wars toys generated sales of more than $US700 million ($A1.02 billion) in the United States in 2015, making them the No.1 property in the toy industry during the year.

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Sales of toys such as Kylo Ren light sabres, BB-8 droids and models of the Millennium Falcon spacecraft totalled more than those related to movie franchises Jurassic World, Minions and Avengers combined, retail researcher NPD Group said.

Led by Star Wars merchandise, toy sales in the United States rose 6.7 per cent to $US19.4 billion in 2015, making it one of the strongest performances for toy sales in years, it said.

Sales took off on September 4, or “Force Friday”, when retailers launched merchandise in anticipation of the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars film produced by Walt Disney Co.

“With the early release of Star Wars toys on Force Friday, Star Wars managed to become the number-one property for the year,” NPD said.

Toymakers Hasbro Inc and Mattel Inc are some of the biggest licensees of Star Wars products.

Toys based on characters from the new movie were hard to find after Christmas, said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toys and sporting goods review website TTPM.

Disney said last week that new toys and collectibles related to the movie are rolling out at Disney stores and mass retailers across the United States.

Many new products feature the female scavenger Rey, the lead character in Force Awakens. Some customers had complained she appeared under-represented on store shelves filled with male characters from the film.

Disney said it kept some Rey products under wraps to prevent revealing key plot points before the movie’s release. The company also underestimated the character’s popularity, said Paul Southern, the head of Star Wars licensing in Disney’s consumer products division.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has become the highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada, beating 2009’s hit 3D sci-fi movie Avatar.

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