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'Star Wars' marketing machine commences primary ignition

Force Friday marks the unveiling of new 'Star Wars' merchandise and even some life-size Stormtrooper cars in New York. 

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    Fans pose with their new Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise on Force Friday.
    Photo by George Nikitin/Invision for Disney Consumer Products/AP
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Today is "Force Friday," Star Wars’ fans (other) holiday, cooked up to market the latest in "Star Wars"-themed merchandise.

Hot Wheels toymaker Mattel teamed up with ride-hailing company Uber to promote its latest "Star Wars"-themed line, offering free rides to New York travelers in life-size Dodge Charger versions of "Stormtrooper cars," cNet reports.

Released in miniature size at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July, the Stormtrooper character cars resemble the iconic white and black armor worn by the "Star Wars" villains. 

Until 5 p.m. Friday, Manhattanites can request a Stormtrooper by activating the Hot Wheels promo while using the Uber app. Each car will also be equipped with a "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" starship that riders can keep as a souvenir.

But if you don’t live in Manhattan, never fear. Force Friday also marks the debut of a new line of "Star Wars" toys. Dozens lined up at various Disney stores across the country this morning in anticipation.

“In all Disney Store locations throughout North America, doors will open for business on Force Friday with Star Wars-themed opening ceremonies, offering a galactic twist on the traditional “Unlocking Imagination” ritual,” wrote the official Star Wars site that outlines a full list of Force Friday events.

Disney hopes to blow past their Frozen merchandise sales that topped $500 million with the new “Force Awakens” gadgets and collectibles, the Washington Post reports. Merchandise tied to films has become a huge business. Pixar's "Cars" toys and products had grossed over $8 billion by 2011, according to the company. And "Star Wars" tie-ins could generate up to $5 billion in their first year, an analyst told the Hollywood Reporter. According to Forbes, Force Friday could generate up to a billion dollars for retailers.

And just in case you aren’t even in the country (though you’ll be able to order the “Force Awakens” toys worldwide on Amazon), Japan’s All Nippon Airways has unveiled two "Star Wars"-inspired planes, one resembling R2-D2 and the other BB-8, the new droid character in “Force Awakens,” reports Mashable. The planes will begin taking passengers next month.

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