Disney and Lucasfilm were intent on keeping Baby Yoda, aka "The Child" a secret from fans until The Mandalorian made its debut on Disney+ last year. That strategy paid off, as the character became an instant sensation. But due to the secrecy, virtually no Baby Yoda merchandise was available in the early days of the show, and it's still slow coming. So fans have had to turn elsewhere, like to unofficial merchandise on Etsy, for example. However, Disney is now cracking down on those who are selling unlicensed items based on the beloved alien.
According to a new report, several Etsy shop owners who were selling Baby Yoda items, such as YourStuffedMemories who was selling handmade plush dolls, and HedgeCrafts, who was selling a dice bag with the character's likeness, have been sent notices by Disney. The studio has required that Etsy remove listings featuring bootleg merchandise related to The Mandalorian. These sellers, and others, have had their listings removed as a result. Given the popularity of the show and Baby Yoda, that has hurt sales for these shops.
Several of the sellers have gotten creative, removing any mention of Baby Yoda, The Mandalorian or The Child, as to avoid drawing the attention of Disney. But according to the report, visitors to these Etsy shops have dropped as a result, since those keywords are no longer helping to draw in customers. Interestingly, Disney doesn't seem to be targeting everyone selling unofficial merchandise. A quick search on Etsy for Baby Yoda or The Mandalorian reveals tons of stores still selling such items. The reasoning for why certain shops have been targeted and not others remains unclear.
This is a complicated situation. Disney, as the copyright holder of all things Star Wars, has the right to stop people from selling products that aren't cleared through them. That said, there are still few Baby Yoda items on the market right now, and some of the shirts and mugs that are available are a bit underwhelming. Hasbro has toys coming and Baby Yoda Build-A-Bear was recently announced, with the shop soon carrying a licensed plush based on the character sometime this year. For those who want something in their hands now, turning to places like Etsy is a viable option.
It had previously been revealed that Disney possibly sacrificed millions in revenue by not having any Baby Yoda items on shelves in time for the holiday season. They were playing the long game. The big reveal, ultimately, paid off and by the time The Mandalorian season 2 rolls around, we'll surely be lousy with merchandise. But in the absence of official merchandise, some people saw an opportunity and took it. Unfortunately, it is ultimately Disney and Lucasfilm's intellectual property and, as sad as it may be to see a giant corporation coming down on small business owners, the law is on the side of the corporation here. This news was first reported by The Verge.