Build-A-Bear Workshop announced on Jan. 14 that it will release a plush version of the precocious green troublemaker from “The Mandalorian” within the next few months. That means it could be available sooner than Disney’s own plush, which won’t be ready until April 3.
The company’s stock surged 15% the day of the announcement, closing at $3.91 per share.
After the show first aired, viewers immediately jumped on the meme bandwagon, turning Baby Yoda into the star of the show. It’s not just Star Wars superfans either; During this December’s Gotham Awards, which celebrate independent filmmakers, stars like Laura Dern, Elisabeth Moss and Bryce Dallas Howard all had something positive to say about the little guy.
Disney has already announced two Funko figures available for pre-order on the Disney website that will ship in February. On Jan. 9, Hasbro announced four more Baby Yoda toys for release in spring 2020. (Get your cash-back credit card ready, though remember: no Republic credits.)
During the Build-A-Bear announcement, CEO Sharon Price John said the company will be one of the first to provide “the new digital and internet phenomenon who is trending higher than all of the presidential candidates combined.”
Build-A-Bear already has a line of cute Star Wars merchandise, so Baby Yoda — formally named “The Child” — will help round out the collection. All things Star Wars have been in high demand following the release of the popular Disney+ show in November as well as the release of the final film in the current continuity, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the month after.
"It shows our nimbleness and ability to recognize trends," John said, noting that the company reached out to Disney when the first episode of “The Mandalorian” aired.
Founded in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop lets children create their own personalized stuffed toys. It’s a hands-on process: You get to choose your own type of stuffed animal — the most popular is, naturally, a bear — as well as color, size, clothing and even sounds. Over time the company has expanded to offer stuffed toys based on a wide variety of famous properties, such as My Little Pony, Pokémon and Marvel.
While Build-A-Bear remains popular, it’s been suffering ever since a pay-your-age promotion several years ago went horribly wrong, leaving parents fuming.
To add to the stress, the company’s revenue dropped 7.5% in the 2018 fiscal year, compared to 2017. It also expects to close 30 stores over the next two years, half outside North America.
The toymaker’s recent misfortune has publications speculating about the possibility of a Build-A-Bear bankruptcy. It won’t save the day on its own, but a plush capitalizing on the Baby Yoda craze could turn out to be a much-needed revenue boost.