Little did I, or anyone, know where this would lead us. Consider: In the 1970's, my dad showed me old clips of the Flash Gordon cliff hanger serials he went to see in the theaters on Saturdays. At that time the serials were roughly 40 years old. Some nostalgia for them, yes, but certainly not appealing to a new generation. Even the campy 1980 movie, with Queen doing the soundtrack, wasn't able to re-start the franchise.
Today? Well, it's almost 40 years later, similar time difference now from when Star Wars first came out... and it's more popular than ever. Kids still are fascinated with it. Adults still are fascinated. Some argue that the new movie is being pushed down our throats, but let's face it: this is all driven by money. If there wasn't a huge demand for it, no studio would put up the money to make it. Like the heavy criticism of early-opening Black Friday sales, the bottom line is that it's being done by consumers, not by stores. If there was no public demand to go kill someone to buy discounted TV's at 2:00 a.m., no store would waste money being open at that time.
The original Star Wars, likely because no one expected it to be a success (least of all 20th Century Fox who only spent a paltry $9 million for it) had no product tie-ins initially. Movie merchandising was nothing new even then. Toys and fast-food movie-related crap have been around a while.
But certainly, once the movie exploded in the theaters, the commercial tie-ins took off like mad. A pattern that followed its successors and changed the industry forever began.
But I don't remember it being this insane. And that's saying a lot considering I remember the bizarre 1999 ads featuring Colonel Sanders (with a lightsaber), the Taco Bell chihuahua, and the previously unknown (and not seen since) Pizza Hut Girl (Really! That was her name!) uniting to fight the dark side and make the galaxy safe for greasy food, strokes, and coronary artery disease.
It reminds me of a late 70's Funky Winkerbean strip (back when it was funny) where a TV program was interviewing a producer about the characters in a new space movie, and all the toys, fast food collectible cups, T-shirts, and other merchandise from them. As the strip went on he admitted they hadn't actually made a movie at all, since it seemed like a waste of marketing dollars.
Anyway, besides the previously published Darth Vader shower and toaster, here are some of the merchandising horrors (thanks to all who sent them) you can consider for the co-worker you don't like but have to get something for, the person who actually collects every POS that says "limited collector's edition" even if it's something no one in their right mind (except Frank) would actually put in their closet, and anyone else who's just dying to own a pair of Yoda-themed dish sponges.
|Anyone else remember the 70's comic book where Vader picked up a cup of coffee and you wondered how he was going to drink it? Anyone?|
|Foreigners putting the Lucky Charms leprechaun out of a job.|
To show you I'm not above this... Here is my own, original, 1977 Chewbacca miniature action figure. It came in a set with R2D2 (which made clicking noises when you turned its head), Luke Skywalker (with an extendable, and rapidly broken, lightsaber in the right arm) and one other figure I don't remember. Maybe Ben Kenobi. As you can see, Chewbacca has a broken left hip. I think I still have R2D2 somewhere, without legs and a marble stuck in him, and maybe Luke, with the left arm gone and the lightsaber broken. Probably in the back of Frank's closet.
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I borrowed them all from my friend Mike and didn't give them back (maybe I stole them). Sorry, Mike. If I can find you on Google I'll ship 'em over.
To be continued...