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The Phantom Disney Princess

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“Disney Princess Leia” by bewareitbites

There’s a phantom menace lurking within Disney. She’s a princess who’s smart and confident, friendly and loyal, rebellious and brave. She’s a strong leader, from a realm far, far away. She’s a wonderful female role model for our children, but you won’t find any figures, costumes, tops, lunch boxes, or backpacks with her on at the Disney Store. Princess Leia became the property of the House of Mouse following their $4 Billion purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. Unsurprisingly, given Disney are the masters of merchandise, Star Wars goods are abundant in the Disney Store. However, it’s also abundantly clear that as far as Disney is concerned, Star Wars is a boys only galaxy. The lack of Leia came to my attention earlier in the week, with this exchange on Twitter between Natalie Wreyford and the Disney Store:

So Disney, who paid $4 billion for the Star Wars brand, and who generate billions each year in selling fantasy princesses to little girls, are seemingly ignoring their brand new ‘space fantasy’ princess. What’s up with that? I asked Disney store customer services why they have no Princess Leia products for sale. First I tried the UK store, who politely pleaded ignorance:

“…we don’t have any information on Princess Leia products at this time”.

Not much help. So I went to the source, DisneyStore.comThis was their reply:

“I’m very sorry but the Princess Leia merchandise you are interested in purchasing is no longer available in DisneyStore.com. While we make every effort to anticipate the inventory requirements of our Guests, merchandise may sell out at different rates.  Regrettably, this is very difficult to forecast.  Due to the popularity of some character families, one item may sell out more quickly than another within the same character family.  Specific merchandise may be reordered and is then re-launched on our site as quickly as possible.  Some items may sell out due to varied reasons and may no longer be offered in our Store.  We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may cause.”

Felt like a lot of cut & pasted standard response copy there, but essentially they’re inferring that they used to have Princess Leia merchandise but they have run out. Well, it’s a case of Star Wars: The Phantom Merchandise then. While it’s possible there may have been the odd niche or specialist third party item, I don’t recall seeing any significant Leia goods on sale there. But, it’s also not true that nothing is currently available.

What’s in (Disney)store?

The Phantom Disney Princess Leia
“Vader’s Little Princess” by Jeffrey Brown

There’s a Princess Leia as Mona Lisa tee on sale. Oh wait that’s an adult tee. And it’s also sold out. Perhaps that’s the missing merchandise they’re referring to? Hang on, there is another Leia product on sale. Unfortunately we already own it, but fortunately it’s good, and in fact it was my daughter’s way into Star Wars – Jeffrey Brown’s ‘Vaders Little Princess‘. While obviously written from the skewed perspective of a father of sons (which Jeffrey is) it’s still a fun and witty introduction to Leia in the galaxy far, far away. My daughter frequently implores us to read it (and ‘Darth Vader and Son‘) to her. She particularly enjoys it when I read Vader’s dialogue into a saucepan – to give it that authentic metallic Vader feel.

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A 1977 original Kenner/Palitoy Princess Leia figure. Our children deserve better than relying on these.

One day she discovered my old Star Wars toys (I was trying to put them in the loft), and has had them out to play ever since. No prizes for guessing who her favourite figure is. Hint – she has headphone hair. My daughter would love to have more versions of Princess Leia to play with than my tired looking 35 year old Star Wars action figure. I don’t understand why Disney are dropping the ball on this one. Are they really so blind to the idea that there’s a market for Princess Leia merchandise?

The Phantom Menace of Disney Princesses

It appears the main problem is that Disney are defining Star Wars as a boys brand – it is prominently featured under the ‘Boys’ tab in the Disney Store, and nowhere to be seen in the ‘Girls’ section. Perhaps they are worried that the inclusion of female characters will damage what they see as the brand’s gender clarity. But it could  also be a matter of vision. Maybe Disney really don’t see the potential in this stylish kick-ass galactic princess? The common wisdom is that Disney created their insanely popular Princess line.

Except they didn’t. We did.

As Peggy Orenstein tells it in ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter‘, the idea of the Disney Princess line came to an exec when he noticed kids dressing up as (non-licensed) Disney princesses, and realised they weren’t making a cent from it. The rest is history, and our current Princess dominated reality. But the lesson here is that if Disney spot a potential buck to be made, they will respond with product. So perhaps, if we create enough chatter and feedback, they will do something about it. Tweet them at , email them at guest.services@disneystore.com or service@disneystore.co.uk, share photos of your little ones dressing up as Leia, or playing with Leia dolls – especially anything unlicensed that Disney won’t make a cent from. Because, like Woodward & Bernstein, Mickey Mouse will follow the money.

(FYI: If singing really is the key to being a good Disney Princess, then Leia has that covered :S)

34 thoughts on “The Phantom Disney Princess”

    1. Except this analysis of “Vader’s Little Princess”

      “Unfortunately we already own it, but fortunately it’s good, and in fact it was my daughter’s way into Star Wars – Jeffrey Brown’s ‘Vaders Little Princess‘. While obviously written from the skewed perspective of a father of sons (which Jeffrey is) it’s still a fun and witty introduction to Leia in the galaxy far, far away.”

      Please read Reel Girl’s post, “Vader’s Little Princess” is really awful: http://reelgirl.com/2014/05/from-the-disney-store-to-stride-rite-to-whole-foods-the-degradation-and-annihilation-of-princess-leia-in-kidworld/

  1. My guess is they’re trying to figure out a way to repackage her in a way that fits within their narrowly defined gender constructs currently marketed within the DPs. Heaven forbid there be a princess who actually has character or depth beyond her looks!

  2. I would like a Princess Leia doll, various merchandise and maybe they could even incorporate her as a meet and greet character. But not quite the stylized version in this cartoon at the top of the page, where the emphasis is on appearance, with the tiny waist, bare shoulders and cleavage. Look at her dress in the movie, the collar is full up to her neck. And so, yes bring on Princess Leia but focus on her strength & smarts, too. After all, what child doesn’t want to yield a light saber and save the planet/world/galaxy/day! 🙂

    1. I totally agree about not changing Leia’s look and character to match the ‘Princess’ brand – I included the “Disney Princess Leia” illustration as it’s a fun & witty commentary on many aspects of this debate.

  3. My guess is that they’re waiting until the new movie comes out with a younger woman to market — Daisy Ridley’s character.

      1. Alternatively, it looks like Hasbro may still have the exclusive license to produce Leia merch. The selection is extremely poor, but I found these two:

        (side note: no classic Leia toy from what I can find — wow.)

        We’ll see if the new characters that are exclusively Disney from the new films allow them to fulfill everyone’s desire for more women character toys. I do know that the casting thus far has a dreadful male:female ratio, which won’t help things much.

        1. Hasbro make Star Wars toys (under the conditions of their partnership), but that doesn’t explain why the Leia ones aren’t for sale in the Disney Store.

  4. If the leia dolls arent for sale, I would venture to guess that its not profitable for disney to produce and sell them in the stores. Dont argue with the capital of for profit company.

    1. You may well be right, but I don’t agree. The point I made in the post is that they had previously made the decision not to create merchandise for their ‘Princesses’, until they noticed that there might be a market. I would venture to guess that they haven’t thought about Star Wars being as anything other than for boys, with male characters only.

  5. I don’t know if it would interest you, but I have a Leia doll (this one: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Episode-Princess-Collector/dp/B00000J2DJ ) and several of the Episode 1 Amidala dolls (all still in boxes because that’s how I was). It’s not the iconic Leia w/ buns, but they’re just sitting in storage and I’d be happy to dust them off and send them to you to share with your daughter. I may have some action figures but I think I gave those away already.

  6. Reblogged this on Dialog Trees and commented:
    I don’t see why it would be so difficult to create some Leia merch.

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  8. Unsurprisingly, given Disney are the masters of merchandise, Star Wars goods are abundant in the Disney Store.

    I somehow skipped this the first few times I read.. are you telling me they have OTHER characters and NOT Leia? That seems blatant. She doesn’t have to be a “Disney Princess” but she’s a huge draw of the property for a lot of the SW nerds. Her omission would only hurt the brand. and yeah I suppose little girls might care too.

    I mean corporations are always accused of giving boys what they want.. well guess what boys want Princess Leia to be part of their Star Wars set. I mean the fight for girls, in my opinion, should be getting MORE than just Leia. Who’s the idiot who decided she wasn’t a priority.

    1. Yes, exactly – and classic Star Wars characters too: Ep IV Han, Luke, Obi Wan – but no Leia. It’s denying both boys and girls by not including her.

  9. When my daughter first brought #WeWantLeia to my attention, I thought perhaps the lack of Leia merch had something to do with Disney’s license, either in regard to Hasbro or in regard to Carrie Fisher’s likeness. You’ve addressed the Hasbro issue; does anyone know about Fisher’s position? As for marketing, if Disney would “brand” Leia both as part of the Star Wars universe in a unisex way and as a “space princess” aimed at girls, it could be making serious coin off this character. As someone who once made my own Princess Leia costume (complete with socks under my hair for that headphone look), I would love to see more Leia options for my two girls.

    1. An additional thought on my own thread: even if Disney didn’t have a license for Fisher’s likeness, that wouldn’t prevent it from selling costumes.

  10. Pingback: How a tiny 'Star Wars' fan got the Leia doll of her dreams | buzzcarl

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