Since the 1930s, when the studios released the Shirley Temple doll to capitalize on the young star’s fame, toy makers have tried to market movies thoroughly to maximize their revenue. After all, people will pay about 50% more for a toy related to entertainment property – like a movie or TV show – than they will pay for a non-entertainment toy. [source: Zimmerman]. With such a premium for cinematographic products, toy-movie directors and producers are eager to squeeze every penny they can from hot movies, even if that means throwing a few bombs along the way. Read on to learn more about some of the biggest problems and missteps in the billionaire world of movie merchandising.
10: Jar Jar Binks Candy
Poor Jar Jar Binks. Some critics complained that he just didn’t belong in the “Star warsAnd with others claiming he was nothing more than a degrading racial stereotype, it’s no surprise that Jar Jar merchandise didn’t really hit the shelves when “The Phantom Menace” came out in 1999. [source: Marche]. While nearly all of the Jar-related toys have been on store shelves much longer than other “Star Wars” merchandise, perhaps no “Star Wars” item has embarrassed the franchise more than the infamous lollipop. Jar Jar Binks [source: Silverman]. The lollipop consisted of a heavily textured candy tongue tucked between the jaws of Jar Jar and mounted on a black plastic handle. To consume the candy, shoppers had to slip their mouths between Jar Jar’s large teeth and suck on his fleshy red tongue. As if the design of the lollipop isn’t mortifying and disgusting enough, many reviewers have argued that the candy has a decidedly phallic appearance, making it inappropriate for children regardless of the ick factor.
9: Micro extraterrestrial machines
When “ExtraterrestrialMade its theatrical debut in 1979, there was no doubt the film had achieved its R rating, thanks to gruesome death scenes and a lot of blood. Despite the fact that the movie wasn’t exactly optimal for kids, the franchise released a series of alien-themed toys to accompany the image and its possible sequels, including a truly terrifying alien action figure from 15 inches tall that scared kids and adults alike. . After numerous complaints that the toy was just too scary, Kenner put aside a planned line of action figures from the movie. It wasn’t until 30 years later that “Alien” figures finally saw the light of day, when they were released to appeal to adult collectors. [source: Mattise].
“Alien” action figures weren’t the franchise’s only troubling connection. Starting in 1986, Galoob Toys produced a number of Micro Machine sets based on the films. These tiny cars, which were intended for children ages 4 and up, were presented in packaging containing kid-friendly images of a disembowelled man and a massive alien, fangs dripping as he hunted down his human victim. [source: RobotvsBadger.com].
8: Transformers Shaving Kit
It’s hard to imagine a more confusing movie toy than the Transformers Play Shave Set, which was released with the “Transformers»Film in 2007. With most products derived from cinema, there is at least a tenuous link between the film and the product sold; when it comes to this toy, however, it’s hard to say that there is a connection between shaving and the movie or a connection between shaving and robots in general. [source: Gamble]. Instead, it seems like a chance to just sell toys by slapping on pictures from the popular franchise.
For those who say kids may enjoy the toy just because it’s fun to play with, regardless of how little it relates to the movie, keep in mind that most young boys are unlikely to be overly turned on by the toy. personal hygiene, even if this box of shaving gel features an image of Optimus Prime.
7: Nimbus 2000 vibrating
In the beloved JK Rowling series, Harry potterThe Nimbus 2000 broom makes him the sexiest kid on the Quidditch pitch. Due to the prominent role played by the broom – and flying brooms in general – in books and movies, it’s no surprise that toy versions of the Nimbus have made their way into stores. In 2001, Mattel released a perfect version of Harry’s premium broom. Made from plastic and designed for kids, the Nimbus 2000 allowed riders to pretend to fly the skies like Harry and his friends. A set of AA batteries even made the broom vibrate like the brooms in the movie do when their riders reach out to call the broom into action. Of course, anything that vibrates raised a few eyebrows among parents and led to some really entertaining reviews on online shopping sites. [source: Time]. To quell the rising tide of protests, the vibrating Nimbus 2000 was quickly taken off the market in 2002 and replaced with non-vibrating alternatives.
6: Hulkey Pokey Hulk
When you imagine the Incredible Hulk, you probably imagine a giant, green, rage-filled monster determined to crush anything in its path. When the movie “The Incredible Hulk” was released in 2008, it received a PG-13 rating, but that didn’t stop toy makers from trying their luck in the juvenile toy market. To attract very young Hulk fans, Hasbro released a sweet animated Hulk figure who sang and danced to his own silly version of the Hokey Pokey – think Tickle Me Elmo, superhero style. Yes the real hulk could see himself that way, he would probably end up breaking into a fit of embarrassed rage [source: Robinson]
5: Star Wars IOU
Imagine you are a young “Star Wars” fan rushing downstairs on Christmas morning 1977 to tear up wrapping paper. Thanks to a slow start of production toys To support the release of “A New Hope,” young fans of the film were more likely to end up with an empty cardboard box than a real Luke or Leia figure. Knowing that they wouldn’t be having “Star Wars” toys made in time for Christmas, Kenner had the ingenious idea of selling some sort of IOU, so the kids would have something to open on Christmas morning. [source: West]. The box contained a certificate in the mail, which promised the children that they would have the Luke, Leia, R2-D2 and Chewy figures by June 1978 at the latest.
While the “Star Wars” holiday IOU may seem depressing today, Kenner managed to sell 300,000 during the 1977 holiday season. [source: Sweetwater and Neumann]. Embarrassing? Yes, but kids who have held onto those boxes and never opened them or never redeemed the certificate may have the final say, as the empty box of 77 has gained in value since disappointing them. children on Christmas morning.
4: Ridiculous Turtle Action Figures
Let’s be clear: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze produced some truly spectacular toys starting in the late ’80s, and by the early’ 90s, manufacturers had sold a quarter of a billion turtles. Many of the classic characters make sense for the franchise and are popular with kids and collectors alike. Considering TMNT’s relatively small cast and the over 400 turtle figures on the market, it’s no surprise that more than a few have missed the mark as toy makers rack their brains for new ideas. . [source: Lammie].
Take for example the Bodacious Birthday line of turtles, which consisted of a completely ridiculous Crazy Clown Mike and a magician-themed Raph the Magnificent. If that’s not enough for you, consider the puzzling lineage of farm turtles, sumo wrestlers, and dinosaur hybrids or an odd array of Old West characters, including a gape-toothed Bandito-Bashin Mike. Perhaps the strangest of all were the pizza turtles, who pulled plastic pizza discs out of their chest cavities and presented some really crazy faces.
3: The Meat Action Figure
The “Rocky” franchise has released a number of questionable action figures to accompany its classic movie star, including a strange wheelchair-bound Rocky and an even weirder Rocky Caveman toy. Despite these small missteps, the toy makers really jumped the shark when they released The Meat figure in 1976, which consisted of a slice of beef and a bloodstained apron. Of course, this figure could have made more sense if it had been really packed with Rocky, who punched a side of beef in a workout scene in the film. Shamefully, The Meat came without any action figures, making it more of a prop than a toy, and making it look more like a desperate cash grab than a thoughtful merchandising attempt. To be fair, the meaty wonder was about the size of a standard action figure, but had relatively little playful value on its own, making it one of the most embarrassing movie ties to ever come out.
2: Happy Meal Toys from Clone Wars
With the release of the animation “Clone WarsIn 2008, McDonald’s launched its very first “Star Wars” toy line, consisting of 18 different toys packaged in special collectible lunch boxes. While the concept of a McDonald’s / “Star Wars” combo made sense on paper, the excitement was short-lived when the actual toys were released. Rather than sticking to classic character designs, McDonald’s went for a wacky bobble head concept, with oversized character faces coming out of tiny vehicles. [source: David]. Darth Vader looks a lot less intimidating when he’s been reduced to a giant head wobbling above a TIE fighter, and Han Solo loses a bit of his heroic style when you see his face eclipse the Millennium Falcon. And of course, let’s not forget poor Chewy, who finds himself awkwardly stuffed into an all-terrain transport vehicle. Despite the sheer number of incredible “Star Wars” ties that have come out since the start of the series, it’s a line that falls flat.
1: Human torch on an ATV
When the “The Fantastic FourThe film hit theaters in 2005, fans were inundated with the usual lineup of cinematic merchandise, including a series of action figures. While the figures of Dr. Doom and the Invisible Woman seemed appropriate, the human torch figure rubbed fans the wrong way. In the movie, as well as in the original line of comics, the Human Torch was perfectly capable of flying anywhere it needed to go, but for some inexplicable reason its 2005 figure was perched on an ATV. Totally unnecessary, but also a very bad example for children – after all, the last place you would want to sit if you were on fire is on top of a gasoline vehicle.
Even more embarrassingly, the toy came with real bright headlights, which would make sense if the human torch wasn’t already emitting a lot of light thanks to the fact that it’s on fire. [source: Taylor].