Stores Miss the Pounce on 'Black Panther' Toys

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Black Panther jet_3x2
Black Panther jet_3x2 Credit: Marvel

A blockbuster at the box office, "Black Panther" could also be kicking ass at retail…if stores had stocked up on more products. New analysis from market research firm NPD Group suggests that some sales may have been left on the table when it came to ordering toys around the popular film.

In the month before the Feb. 6 "Black Panther" debut, stores were carrying 11 "Black Panther" products, on average. That compares with 31 items at stores in the month leading up to "Power Rangers," one of last year's action flicks, according to Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst at Port Washington, New York-based NPD.

"Perhaps there was some caution taken with this film," says Lennett, noting that the franchise, in which a young African king rises to defeat his enemies, is a new one and that retailers plan around a year ahead for toy inventory. "They may find they're out of stock and if that happens it's a missed opportunity," she adds.

So far, "Black Panther" as a film has been a runaway hit. The Disney-Marvel movie has so far generated more than $506.4 million in ticket sales and is the ninth-highest grossing film in North America of all time, according to Variety. Consumers have been snapping up products—for the week ending Feb. 24, the first full week of retail sales after the film's release, "Black Panther" was the Number 3 license in the toy industry, following "Star Wars" and "Cars," NPD found.

A Toys R Us spokesman says the brand has been successful and exceeded expectations online and in-store. He did not have information on restocking. On Toys R Us' site, some items, like an action figure for the supervillain played by Michael B. Jordan, is already sold out.

Target has been marketing its "Black Panther" toys through weekly ads, on social media and in stores, according to a spokesman. He says that sales of Target's "Avengers" assortment doubled in the week before the film's release and that "excitement from guests for 'Black Panter' toys, apparel, entertainment and home merchandise" has continued, specifically around Target's exclusive Funko POP! Black Panther figure. Target currently offers the DVD for pre-order, though no release date has been set.

Yet consumers are impatient.

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