After receiving criticism for sidelining female characters in its The Force Awakens toy ranges, Disney is focusing on the women of the Star Wars galaxy ahead of the release of Episode VIII. The company announced Star Wars Forces of Destiny last night — an initiative that will see it releasing a series of animated shorts, books, and toys that feature characters like Rey, Leia, and Rogue One’s Jyn Erso.
The new toys are being made by Hasbro, and are called “adventure figures” — described as a cross between an action figure and a traditional doll. In addition to characters from the movies, the company’s also making models of Sabine Wren and Ahsoka Tano, both of whom currently appear in TV show Star Wars: Rebels, as well as 11-inch versions of BB-8, R2-D2, and Chewbacca.
The shorts will arrive on Disney’s YouTube channel in July, and will be voiced by their actual actors, featuring turns from Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, and Lupita Nyong’o. In addition to the shorts and toys, Disney is also working on a set of books to tie into the stories, as well as a two-part TV special due to air on the Disney Channel later this year.
Hasbro faced a barrage of criticism last year after it left Rey out of its Episode VII-themed Star Wars Monopoly set, excluding her in favor of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The new initiative could be a chance for the company to get out ahead of any similar reaction to its upcoming The Last Jedi range, but it should also be a chance for fans to celebrate some of the strongest characters in the galaxy far far away.