Back in the 70s, George Lucas didn't get much of a cut from the original Star Wars film, but he did make a deal to get the rights to its characters, sequels, and merchandising. It was a dark time for Lucas, as even Kenner, the toy company who had the license to make the toys for the movie did not have much faith the toys would do well. This resulted in the company not manufacturing enough toys for that holiday season and instead offering a box with a certificate for redemption the next year.
Fast forward to 1998 and the the building anticipation for the first Star Wars prequel film, The Phantom Menace (we won't deal with what happened to that anticipation post film here). There were two "sneak preview" toys by Hasbro from the movie which opened the next year and subsequent "midnight madness" events for when the toys rolled out. Yes, things were much different then.
It looks like some of the new traditions will continue for the next Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Though we won't be getting preview toys the year before (too late for that!), the release of the toys will have similar fanfare. Disney is announcing that many Disney Stores (including DisneyStore.com) and mass retailers wil be offering Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys, collectibles, books, and comics starting on #ForceFriday at 12:01am September 4, 2015.
Prepare for the (store) invasion. Knowing collectors, it could get violent.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens toy box art treatment
Good luck, and may the Force be with you.