Even the Black Panther might have trouble fixing this mess.
An embarrassing shortage of toys pegged to the smash superhero flick is showing no signs of ending, insiders say, even as the box-office sensation is slated for a DVD release next month.
Hasbro, the manufacturing giant that has the master license for “Black Panther” toys, admits that it won’t have any new goods to accompany the DVD — despite the fact that such pairings are standard industry practice.
“Hasbro often comes out with new items with a video release,” said Jim Silver, president of toy review website TTPM told The Post. But “the toy industry underestimated Black Panther.”
Toy shelves nationwide were already going bare in early March — just three weeks after the movie’s Feb. 16 release. Six-inch action figures began to sell out, and retailers began limiting sales of 12-inch models to five per customer, according to BMO Securities.
“Our in-store check have also shown a lot of empty pegs,” BMO analyst Gerrick Johnson wrote at the time.
This weekend, “Black Panther” nudged past “Titanic” to become the third-highest-grossing film in the US of all time. And yet as of Sunday, Amazon had only one of the six-inch, $10 action figures of the movie’s villain, Erik Killmonger, available for its Prime members. The $20 Vibranium Power FX mask was completely sold out at many stores, including New York-area Target locations.
Looking ahead, there’s only a single, as-yet-unreleased Black Panther toy that’s been announced. The $99 helmet, which boasts “Vibranium-inspired design with flip-up eye lenses,” won’t hit shelves until the fall, a Hasbro spokeswoman confirmed.
That, in turn, has sent third-party manufacturers scrambling to fill demand in the coming months.
“We’ve got three factories in China working overtime to get 300,000 items out as fast as possible,” says Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun, which is producing plush toys for amusement parks and kids’ venues like Chuck E. Cheese. “We are scheduling the product to ship on the fastest container ships to help make it in time.”
A source close to “Black Panther” distributor Disney — whose CEO Bob Iger admitted he’d been blindsided by the movie’s success — said there is “a second wave of product coming in the next few months” but didn’t give details.
A Disney spokeswoman, meanwhile, insisted that the Black Panther product line is “the largest ever for a Marvel origin film, including expanded categories, such as performance wear and high-fashion collaborations.”
Nevertheless, parents have taken to Twitter to gripe about a lack of goods across the board.
“Kid asked for a Black Panther themed birthday party,” an Atlanta mother complained. “We are having a hard time finding party decor. #1 movie in the world and the stores don’t have any party merchandise. #Annoyed #BlackPanther.”
“I still need to know where they are hiding all of the merchandise,” another tweeted last month. “I need three sets of twin bed sheets, a shower curtain, and matching towels.”
Hasbro released just 11 “Black Panther” toys for the film’s debut — about half what retailers carried for the “Justice League” film and a third of what they carry for “Power Rangers” movies, according to NPD Group.
“Black Panther,” meanwhile, got about the same toy allotment as “Wonder Woman,” another smash hit that took the industry by surprise, according to Licensing Letter, an industry publication.
“This is an industry that downplayed the female character in Star Wars,” resulting in shortages of Rei figures after the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Richard Gottlieb, chief executive of Global Toy Experts Gottlieb told The Post.
“The African-American community was very excited about this movie,” according to Gottlieb. But the toy industry was unsure whether it would generate “broad public demand,” he said.