Baby Yoda is the unquestioned breakout star of The Mandalorian. The first ever live-action Star Wars TV show accomplished its mission of bringing a galaxy far, far away to the small screen, with plenty of help from everyone's favorite green alien. By virtually any measure, the Disney+ show appears to be a huge hit so far. However, Disney may have sacrificed millions of dollars in revenue by keeping the show's biggest secret under wraps for as long as they did.
According to a recent report, because Hasbro couldn't get Baby Yoda toys in stores in time for Christmas, it's estimated that Disney lost $2.7 million or more in merchandise revenue. Certain analysts believe that to be a very conservative estimate. Baby Yoda, or "The Child," as it's known officially at Lucasfilm for the time being, since the character's name has yet to be revealed, became a viral sensation early on in the show's run after he was revealed at the very end of the first episode.
Disney and Lucasfilm, along with series creator Jon Favreau, felt it would be best to keep the character a secret until the big reveal at the end of the premiere. To do so, they only let a select few know about Baby Yoda ahead of the debut of The Mandalorian. Had they sent character designs to toymakers like Hasbro, quite a few more people would have known about it and it would have been far more difficult to keep it under wraps. The big reveal and surprise certainly seemed to contribute to the character's popularity in the early days of the show, and it definitely helped bring a ton of attention to the series as Baby Yoda was embraced by the collective internet, spawning untold numbers of memes and gifs.
In the long run, it seems Disney stands to make far more than a few million from The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. The show is the flagship title and has helped drive subscribers to Disney+ since its launch in November. Disney also pushed out Baby Yoda merchandise as quickly as possible following the reveal. Though, some of the early items were a bit underwhelming, as they, in some cases, looked like a screenshot slapped on a shirt with the show's logo.
Merchandising has been one of the primary things that has made Star Wars such a profitable franchise over the years. Interestingly, this situation mirrors one in the early days of the franchise. Fox didn't anticipate the demand for Star Wars toys when George Lucas' first entry in the series was released in 1977. So, to help generate money and meet demand, a display box for yet-to-be-released action figures was sold and, sure enough, quite a few of those display boxes were purchased. With that in mind, Disney will surely make a killing with Baby Yoda toys once they hit shelves in 2020. Feel free to check out the full video from CNBC's Twitter account.