Movie toy tie-ins are not like they used to be. The main reason is probably because Hollywood now works in reverse, rather than making toys based on a film they’re making films based on toys. Get ready to take a walk down a plastic memory lane with the top 10 movie toy tie-ins – WARNING: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
What do you get the kid that questions the origins of space and time? A monolith action figure of course, it’s perfect for the miniature Stephen Hawking in your family. The team at Think Geek originally posted the product on their website as an April fool’s gag but it proved to be so popular that they decided to sell it. With zero points of articulation the monolith will produce centuries of fun.
9. Alien (1979)
The Kenner complaints department, where you can hear annoyed parents scream. Buoyed by the success of the ‘Star Wars’ toy line, Kenner executives were hoping that ‘Alien’ would be their next big sci-fi toy seller. Before the film was released with an R-rating in America, toys were shipped out with a giant xenomorph action figure the big ticket item. Since children couldn’t see the film the toy was a huge flop. Even parents that bought it as a gift were washing little Johnny’s bed sheets on a daily basis in between angry phone calls to Kenner. Now, the toy is a collector’s item and grown up bet wetters are turning their nightmares into gold.
8. Karate Kid (1984)
In 1986 after the success of the first ‘Karate Kid’ film and with the release of a sequel, Remco toys released a line of action figures and play sets. You could collect Daniel, Johnny and Mr. Miyagi. Each action figure could perform a karate chop, karate twist and karate kick. Sadly, children around the world were disappointed when they found out that Johnny’s action figure did not have a ‘sweep the leg’ function.
7. Hulk (2003)
Ang Lee’s film about the Marvel superhero was a flop but there was a light at the end of the dark green tunnel…Hulk Hands. One of the greatest toy inventions in human history and wrongfully snubbed for a Nobel Peace Prize. Complete with “smash n’ bash” sound effects, you could hit your uncle in the crotch and it sounded like you leveled a 12 story building.
6. Cars (2006)
‘Cars’ is the weakest of the Pixar films but no one at Disney cares because they are buried under mountains of cash from merchandising. You can’t visit the house of someone that has kids without tripping over a mini Lightning McQueen in the living room. It’s probably one of the reasons ‘Cars’ got a sequel and with the amount of loot out there for the kiddies it seems ‘Cars’ is bankrolling all future Pixar productions.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The secret of the ooze (1991)
The second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) film was released at the height of the series popularity and a ‘movie stars’ line of toys was released. It featured the turtles as well as the film’s baddies super shredder, Tokkah and Rahzar. The TMNT toys based on the cartoon series were already crazy popular so the movie tie-in was basically a “gateway toy” to get the kids that weren’t already hooked.
4. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
This is what happens when more thought is put into a toy-line over a film. Awesome toys from a crap film. You could buy so many different toys from the film that it was almost like purchasing actual props from the film. Action figures, swords and huge Sherwood Forest play sets. Ask anyone what they remember about the film and the first thing they’ll say is the toys.
3. Batman (1989)
Toys have always been a marker of the rich and poor in the playground. In 1989, the Batwing was the ultimate status symbol. As soon as the Batwing appeared in Tim Burton’s film kids were already thinking up ways to crash the thing in a giant sandpit. The toys hit an all-time high with the release of ‘Batman Returns’ with the easily breakable Batmissle a highlight.
2. Ghostbusters (1984)
It’s one of the biggest hits of the 80s but it took a while for the ‘Ghostbusters’ toys to catch on. In 1986 a cartoon series was created called ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ that spawned enough merchandise to send a kid to toy nirvana. The Ghostbusters firehouse, the Ecto-1 and your very own proton pack were all up for grabs. The Ghostbusters toys were also a parent’s worst nightmare with enough slime to keep you banned from any carpeted area for life.
1. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
The movie tie-in that started it all and made George Lucas very rich. Fox had no faith in ‘Star Wars’ before its release so Lucas negotiated in his contract to retain all merchandising rights. The film was a big hit and every kid on the planet wanted their own lightsaber, R2-D2 and landspeeder. Lucas said “YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL” and the money started to pile up. It got bigger with ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’. Unfortunately, later in life Lucas would make three prequels on the premise of selling toys and it did not pan out well for fans.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies