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In December 2015, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" blasted onto movie screens, introducing the epic saga to a whole new generation of young Jedis — including a large number of young girls, inspired by the character Rey, who took on both the movie's spotlight and villain Kylo Ren.
Annie Rose Goldman, now 10, was just 8 years old when the movie came out, and she was one of those little girls who instantly fell in love with Rey. Annie Rose comes from a family of "Star Wars" fans, which was why she was very disappointed when they opened their 2015 "Star Wars"-themed version of the game Monopoly and discovered that there was no Rey token included, even though the game had been updated for "The Force Awakens."
Annie Rose wrote a strongly-worded letter to Hasbro Inc., the manufacturer of the Monopoly game. Her mother, Carrie Goldman, shared it on her own Twitter account in January of 2016, right after the movie's release. Annie Rose's letter then started a Twitter firestorm with the hashtag #WheresRey — it was retweeted over 2,400 times.
"How could you leave out Rey!?" the Evanston, Illinois elementary school student wrote. "She belongs in 'Star Wars' Monopoly and all the other 'Star Wars' games! Without her, THERE IS NO FORCE AWAKENS! It awakens in her! And, without her, the bad guys would have won!"
Hasbro spokesperson Julie Duffy told TODAY Parents in an email that the 2015 version of "Star Wars" Monopoly was released in September 2015, two months before "The Force Awakens" opened, and "Rey was not originally included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance."
After Annie Rose's letter went viral, Hasbro updated the game again to include a Rey token in 2016. But, Duffy explained, "in some markets, retailers already had adequate inventory of the original version of the 2015 game, so they opted not to take in additional inventory of the new version." That meant that the version of the game that includes Rey is now available for purchase only on Hasbro's website in the United States.
Hasbro's consumer care department will send a Rey token free of charge to anyone who requests it, and Duffy said that will continue. "We love Rey and have featured her in dozens of products since she was introduced in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in 2015," Duffy added. "Fans can find role play items, action and adventure figures, vehicles, and a wide selection of games featuring Rey at retailers worldwide," as well as the Hasbro website.
Last week, the #WheresRey discussion experienced a revival on social media. When Goldman reported that Annie Rose and her family still had not received a Rey game piece for their Monopoly game, Associated Press reporter Michelle Smith reached out to Hasbro, voicing Annie Rose's concern that kids would still have to do “an awful lot of work to get Rey” by contacting the game manufacturer to receive a Rey game piece.
Hasbro finally sent Annie Rose the Rey token last week. "Annie Rose is still flabbergasted that Rey wasn’t included in the first place," said her mother.
Today, Annie Rose also received a package and letter from Hasbro's head of "Star Wars" products, Samantha Lomow. The package contained an array of "Star Wars" toys featuring Rey, and in her letter, Lomow told Annie Rose, "I wanted to reach out to you to let you know I love Rey, too, and I agree with you that boys and girls need to see that women are as strong as men." Lomow invited Annie Rose to visit the Hasbro headquarters.
Goldman said she hopes that Hasbro and other entertainment companies will soon understand and recognize the importance of female representation. "We don’t need to look far to see the power of women at the box office. Whether it’s in movies such as 'Wonder Woman' or 'The Force Awakens,' we have proof that female superheroes hold universal appeal, and it is critical to reflect this appeal in toys and games," she said.
"This is just as important for little boys as it is for little girls. Children should be encouraged to play with all imaginative, inspiring characters, regardless of gender."
Goldman said her family — which includes her husband, Andrew, and Annie Rose's sisters, Katie, 13, and Cleo, 7 — will always be "Star Wars" fans. One thing is certain: the Force is strong in this family.