Ever since “The Mandalorian” premiered on Disney Plus in November, the adorable green alien popularly dubbed “Baby Yoda” has captured hearts around the world. However, despite popular demand for a Baby Yoda toy, Disney has been slow to provide due to concerns of spoiling the character’s reveal if merchandising details leaked ahead of the first episode.
In December 2019, the company announced that it would release a Baby Yoda plushie in March of 2020. And on Tuesday, Disney announced a partnership with Build-a-Bear for a Baby Yoda stuffed animal. However, when the Baby Yoda toy will become available at Build-a-Bear remains unknown.
But impatient fans had already taken matters into their own hands. Shortly after the show launched, Etsy crafters and sellers created their own unofficial Baby Yoda toys to capitalize on the demand. Up until recently, unofficial Etsy sellers were the only hope for Baby Yoda fans seeking to obtain a cuddly plushie of the green alien. For a while, the bootleg market seemed to flourish.
Disney has now started issuing takedown notices, reminding Etsy that it owns the intellectual property rights to “Yoda” and other Star Wars terms, The Verge reported on Friday. Etsy businesses with wildly popular Baby Yoda products suddenly found their listings deactivated, at the request of Disney, according to the report.
Disney and Etsy did not respond to a request for comment.
As Disney prepares to build a Baby Yoda merchandise empire, unofficial products are inevitable casualties. And as with any popular franchise that has significant merchandising potential, this game of whack-a-mole with copyright-infringing merchandisers is not unusual. Sellers who capitalized on Baby Yoda fever know the drill. Many have resurrected their listings under different names, careful to avoid copyrighted keywords that might draw Disney’s attention.
Meanwhile, the long-awaited Rise of the Resistance ride opened on Friday in Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The Rise of the Resistance is the flagship ride of Disney’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions in both Disney World and Disneyland. It features a highly immersive journey through the world of Star Wars, in which riders play the role of Resistance recruits who are captured by the First Order.