The spread of COVID-19 has already had an impact beyond the health crisis it has sparked across the world – from cancelled conferences and refunded convention tickets to delayed films. An impact on manufacturing is inevitable as production in China is hit hard by continued shutdowns. This means, as much as you may want them, Baby Yoda toys might not be arriving as quick as you’d hoped.
The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of a publicly viewable U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing released by Hasbro today, notes that the manufacturer behind some of the most highly anticipated Mandalorian toys recently teased at New York Toy Fair is anticipating a general impact on its production facilities in China. While the company would not mention specific brands from its portfolio – which includes the likes of Transformers, My Little Pony, and Power Rangers, alongside Star Wars – that would be affected, it did warn that COVID-19 has already begun to impact its ability to manufacture and ship upcoming products, and anticipates that public concern about the virus could potentially stymie retail sales as people begin to shy away from public gatherings.
“The occurrence of these types of events can result, and in the case of the coronavirus has resulted in, disruptions and damage to our business,” the filing reads, “caused by both the negative impact to our ability to design, develop, manufacture, and ship product (the supply side impact) and the negative impact on consumer purchasing behaviour (the demand side impact).”
While Hasbro states that it believes its 2020 manufacturing capacity and the efforts of third-party manufacturers and components are on track for the year, it also notes that the toy company is developing plans to address the current impact of the virus’ spread on its supply and manufacturing lines – and that the longer the outbreak continues, the more likely substantial delays to creating and shipping its products could occur. As the filing is primarily aimed at investors concerned about profit margins and shares, it doesn’t note any precautions Hasbro or its third party affiliates are taking to support labourers affected by manufacturing shutdowns or attempts to curtail the potential spread of disease in its workplaces.
“While we have developed and continue to develop plans to help mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus to our business, the efforts will not completely prevent our business from being adversely affected,” the filing continues, “and the longer the outbreak impacts supply and demand the more negative the impact it will have on our business, revenues and earnings, and the more limited our ability will be to try and make up for delayed or lost product development, production and sales.”
Additionally, “The coronavirus outbreak continues to be fluid and uncertain, making it difficult to forecast the final impact it could have on our future operations. If our business experiences prolonged occurrence of adverse public health conditions, such as the coronavirus, we believe our business could be substantially harmed.”
What this means for the average consumer – like, say, those so eager to own anything related to The Mandalorian’s breakout star that they will even covet a waffle maker as long as it stamps Baby Yoda’s face into their breakfast carbs—is that Hasbro expects its products, Baby Yoda or otherwise, will be facing either delayed rollouts or potentially be supply-constrained. Given the fervour for Baby Yoda products over the past few months, it was always likely that demand for toys featuring the Force-using tot would be high. Funko, the creator behind the global phenomenon that is the vinyl collectible “Pop” figures, has already boasted that its Child bobblehead has become its most pre-ordered product of all time, for example.
Even without restrictions on Hasbro’s supply chain, public demand for Baby Yoda items would inevitably spark shortages and sellouts – but with them, products set to launch this year might be even harder to find than they were already. That is, if they actually make it to shelves when planned. The rollout of products featuring the character had already significantly delayed by Disney and Lucasfilm’s unprecedented desire to keep Baby Yoda’s existence a secret when The Mandalorian began on Disney+ last November. Now, they have a far more serious roadblock to market than the House of Mouse wanting to keep a Star Wars character a secret.
Gizmodo has reached out to Hasbro for comments on its plans around COVID-19, as well as if it still expects the release of its The Mandalorian product lines to go ahead this spring. We’ll update this post if and when we hear back.