Disney is hosting an 18-hour marathon Star Wars
Toys tied in to the forthcoming release of Star
Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest instalment of
the science-fiction juggernaut, are being
unwrapped and demonstrated on YouTube .
Amateurs have posted unboxing videos onto
Google’s service almost since its inception.
However, Disney’s action highlights how the
activity is being adopted by the companies that
make and sell the goods.
Clips of toys being unpackaged and played with
have proven to be particularly popular.
One of YouTube’s most popular channels is
FunToyzCollector , a four-year-old account that
shows products being held up by an elegantly
manicured pair of hands from a variety of angles.
It has clocked up more than 7.7 billion views since
launching, and this week alone attracted more than
75 million clicks.
Its most popular video highlights a Play-Doh tie-in
with Disney’s Frozen movie, which has gained
more than 337 million views alone since July
The Star Wars unboxing event kicked off in Sydney,
followed by YouTube broadcasts from around the
globe, prior to the release of the toys in shops on
Why on earth would you want to sit and watch
people opening boxes of toys for 18 hours?
Unboxing videos are undeniably popular – out of
the top 25 most viewed YouTube channels five are
dedicated to the activity.
Along with DisneyCollectorBR, there’s
It’sBabyBigMouth , which focuses on unwrapping
Kinder eggs and building the toys, BluCollection,
HobbyKidsTV and another toy-fixated channel –
Social media expert Tom Cheesewright says the
attraction is partly to do with the vicarious thrill of
seeing someone open a brand new product.
“There’s the first-person hands in front of you – it
seems you’re there. You’re seeing it unwrapped
first,” he says.
For many children it has become the modern
equivalent of leafing through a toy catalogue, and
the clips can hold more interest than cartoons or
For marketers the idea of having their target
audience watching and then rewatching lengthy
clips rather than short commercials has obvious
Who watches this stuff?
According to Google Consumer Surveys data, 62%
of people who watch the videos are those
researching a particular product.
Its Trends analytics page suggests that people in
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are those most likely
to search for the term “unboxing”.
One of the earliest examples of an unboxing video
upload is from 2006 when an American gamer
unpacked a PlayStation 3 delivered from Japan . It
was of interest to others because the console had
yet to go on sale in the US.
Tech products – especially smartphones – remain
a popular topic.
But today, clothing, lipstick, food, and even bras
also get the treatment.
Lingerie firm Adore Me is one company that has
It recently broadcast a TV advert inspired by the
activity which it said was intended to broaden its
appeal with “millennials” – people born in the
1980s or later.
According to Google, 34% of the views for
unboxing videos related to food, electronics, toys
and beauty and fashion happen from October to
December – in the run-up to Christmas.
It would take more than seven years to watch all
the videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in the title
that were uploaded in 2014, Google says.
Where will it end?
Unboxing videos can be real moneyspinners.
The YouTube clips are often preceded with adverts
for other products or have banner ads
superimposed, meaning that they can generate
millions of dollars revenue for their creators.
Last year, Disney paid almost $1bn (£660m) for
the YouTube channel network Maker Studios. Later
in the year, Maker Studios added five toy review
channels to its roster.
“Toy-review channels have… become the authority
on the hottest toys on the market, as well as one
of the fastest-growing genres of family
programming online,” it said at the time.
But their evolution wasn’t planned or predictable.
“They naturally snowballed,” Mr Cheesewright says
– and that snowball shows no signs of slowing