The release of the new Star Wars movie may still be months off, but Disney is unleashing its full marketing “Force” behind the launch of hundreds of toys and other items related to the film. The massive marketing blitz, which Disney has named “Force Friday”, spans all kinds of media and included an 18-hour global “unboxing” streamed live on YouTube. Major toy retailers around the world opened their doors and held special events when the toys first became available just after midnight on Friday. Among the first cities was Hong Kong with toy stores open at midnight. The marketing push behind Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens , is unique because it is so far ahead of the movie’s US release, 116 days to be exact. But analysts say it can work because Star Wars is such a popular franchise. A hamster-sized BB-8 droid and an updated Millennium Falcon spacecraft emerged as some of the most talked-about new toys. New lightsabres, Lego models, action figures and spaceships also went on sale. In Australia and Japan, fans, some dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers or Sand People, thronged stores after the 18-hour marathon global Walt Disney “unboxing” event online in which 13 of the new products were unwrapped. “We’re the first ones actually in the world to get our hands on it, so, what can be better than that? They’re new Star Wars toys, they’re the first ones on the world, you just can’t beat it,” said Matthew Jones in Sydney, Australia as the products went on sale at midnight at a Target store. An orange and white cylindrical BB-8 droid that can move, talk and can be controlled through a smartphone app was trending on Twitter on Thursday, hours before stores opened in Europe or the United States. In the movie, the BB-8 is like an updated version of R2-D2. It’s a giant rolling sphere, with a traditional droid head that somehow manages to stay on top. The mini version, costing US$150, created by Sphero moves much the same way. A remote-controlled Millennium Falcon spacecraft, piloted in the Star Wars universe by Han Solo and Chewbacca, also proved an early favourite on social media. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – the first in a new trilogy – brings back original 1977 cast members Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, and is scheduled to hit cinemas on December 18. Leaked images of action figures of characters that have not even hit the big screen – like Sarco Plank, some kind of alien desert nomad that has only been glimpsed in a Vanity Fair on-set shoot – may fuel consumer demand, says Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Industry Association. “It’s pretty rare, but in the age of social media, you can get those characters out and create buzz around these things in ways that you couldn’t in the past,” Pasierb says. “There’s something easy to tap into, which is the Star Wars mystique which is some 30 years old.” Industry analysts at PiperJaffrey say they expect some US$3 billion worth of Star Wars merchandise will be sold this year and that sales next year could be even larger. Hasbro Inc, which has been making Star Wars toys for more than 30 years, planned to unveil more than 100 different items Friday. Other toys coming out include Toronto-based Spin Master Corp’s “Legendary Yoda,” a 16-inch version of the Jedi Master that boasts lifelike movements and voice recognition. It was priced at US$180. Fuhu, which makes the nabi tablet computer for kids, has created US$170 Star Wars-themed accessory bundles that include a new 7-inch table. They come with sound effects, themed wallpapers and stickers designed to let kids customize their tablets. While most of the people buying Friday will be the die-hard collectors who have to have the hot items first, sales momentum will continue into the holiday shopping season as nostalgic parents introduce a new generation of children to Star Wars , says Rob Maigret, Sphero’s chief creative officer. WATCH: The teaser trailer for 'Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens'