6 Movie Merchandise Misguided Messes
Movies can make a lot of money from merchandising rights -- we're talking crazy, unattainable, not-eating-Hot-Pockets-anymore kind of money. So it's not surprising that there are some less-than-ideal pairings out there. One need look no further than our Reservoir Dogs earmuffs for that kind of thing. But then there are some next level mismatches, the kind whose very existence seems to spit on their films and everything good about them. Like ...
The Spider-Man Operation Game That Finally Lets You Butcher Your Hero
Hey kids, have you ever wanted to tear apart Spider-Man and pluck out his insides?
R-really? Holy shit, what's wrong with you?
Well, we guess it's better than "playing" with the neighborhood cats, so uh ... here you go, children.
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, needs a better insurance plan!
The game plays exactly the same as classic Operation, but features our beloved plucky hero on the operating table. All the surgery-related puns are still there, but instead of "water on the knee," Spider-Man needs you to remove his "webbed feet" and "a-rack-nid ribs." And that's to say nothing of the curiously testicle-shaped piece you're invited to remove from his crotch.
Oh, but don't think we're reading too much into a cute little kids game. This game seriously is all about torturing and dismembering Spider-Man. Just look at the box art, which features a beaten and drugged webslinger about to be experimented on by Doctor Octopus.
Whose medical credentials are suspect, at best.
Either the artist has never read a Marvel comic and assumes Doc Ock is an actual medical doctor with his Hippocratic oath intact, or the premise of the game is that you take the role of Spidey's arch-nemesis and your goal is to remove the webslinger's organs one by one. Or maybe we're looking at this wrong. Maybe the whole game is one big honey trap meant to flush out young supervillains in the making.
Parents: If your child frequently monologues to their playmates before defeating them, if they refer to their pillow fort as a "lair," or if they've already grown and begun twirling a sinister mustache, maybe slip a box of Spider-Man Operation under the Christmas tree and fully confirm your suspicions before you ship them off to Arkham Daycare Facilities.
At the very least, throw their Johns Hopkins application into the trash.
The Little Mermaid Betrays Her Kingdom for Your Crappy Dinner
Even though The Little Mermaid came out all the way back in 1989, Disney spent decades exploiting it for marketing opportunities. It's totally understandable -- that's what one does with a cash cow, after all. If you carefully milk the franchise forever, revenues will never run dry. Well, it's either that or slaughter it and devour all of those delicious cash burgers. Surprisingly, Disney opted for the latter when they partnered with American Pride Seafoods in 2006 to give the world Little Mermaid brand ... fish nuggets.
"In the shape of your favorite characters, except with X's on the eyes!"
If you don't see the problem, imagine tucking into a juicy venison steak with Bambi printed on the cover. Ariel and her fishy friends even appear on the box itself as a reminder to kids that their meal comes at the expense of their favorite cartoon characters' very lives. There's even a "Family Pack" available, although the box doesn't make it clear whether the family in question is yours or the corpses of Sebastian's wife and children.
Under the sea, please spare me
Dipped in the batter, my kids taste better, take it from me
I swear to sing for you all day, and I will look the other away
Sure it's revoltin', but I'm still floatin', under the sea
Look at Ariel and King Triton smiling and dancing around that plate of their loyal subjects, whose corpses are carved up and breaded for your eager consumption. It's like their entire business model is luring the sea's inhabitants to Atlantica, only to sell them as food to the humans of the world above. And what the hell are you so happy about in this picture, Flounder? You aquatic Uncle Tom.
The Who Framed Roger Rabbit Game That Supports Genocide
Remember that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when Judge Doom demonstrated his plan to exterminate the cartoon characters by slowly lowering a sobbing anthropomorphic shoe into a vat of acidic "Dip?" Do you remember the look of terror on its face as it died? Ah, who are we kidding? Of course you remember! It's the moment your innocence died, too. But in case you've successfully repressed it, here you go:
DON'T LOOK AWAY. WITNESS IT.
How can you market something as awful and scarring as that scene? Easy! By releasing an action board game called Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Dip Flip! The game where you play as the villain and try to murder as many beloved cartoon characters as you can.
Like genocidal tiddlywinks.
One player takes control of a "flipper" shaped like Doom, and hurls the protagonists of the film to their grisly deaths. The other takes control of an Eddie Valiant flipper, and desperately tries -- and fails -- to save his friends. Then the players switch, so everybody gets a turn as the murderous madman! All of this mirth is summed up perfectly by the tagline "The action is fast -- just aim and flip ... get all the toons into the Dip!"
That's making pretty light of mass murder, Disney. Universal didn't make a Schindler's List board game with the tagline "Use all of your might, use all of your power ... get all the Jews into the sho-"
This title card brought to you by last-minute restraint.
The Star Trek Christmas Ornament Celebrating the Saddest Moment In the Series
At Comic-Con 2014, Star Trek unveiled its newest collectible: a Christmas ornament that lovingly recreates the famous scene in which one of the main characters slowly dies from radiation poisoning.
Uranium sold separately.
We get that not everything is "a toy." Adult Trek fans might totally dig this kind of thing as a model. But as a Christmas tree ornament? Where's the tie-in there? Here's your greatest tragedy dangling from a tree. Merry fucking Christmas, Spock fans!
Whenever you walk past it, Scotty plays "Amazing Grace."
Did you really think it was appropriate to remind fans (on Christmas day, no less) what it's like to sit helpless while a good man slowly succumbs to death in agonizing pain, all to save your worthless little lives when you cou-ohh, we get it.
Well played, Star Trek. Still pretty messed up, but well played.
The Comic Adaptation of Singin' in the Rain That Includes No Singing or Dancing
Right up until Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, there wasn't much crossover between musical fans and comic book nerds. So we feel bad for the poor team called into the boss's office back in 1952 and asked, through a haze of cynical cigar smoke, to pen a comic adaptation of Singin' in the Rain.
The My Fair Lady/X-Men crossover wouldn't happen for several more years.
The hit Gene Kelly musical won awards for its music and choreography, neither of which could be translated to the silent medium of text atop still images. So how do you make a long-form adaptation of Singin' in the Rain without any music? Simple: You don't. Paring all the songs and cutting the story down to its basic plot made for a trim 12-page book.
Twelve pages. We've written longer pieces about interesting bowel movements.
Also keep in mind that, unlike many musicals in which the singing is incidental to the plot, the musical elements of Singin' in the Rain were its entire point. As such, the story of a woman with a substandard singing voice tends to translate badly.
You can totally read how shitty she sounds.
And that's to say nothing of the printing technology of the day, which turned Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds into Vincent Price and a department store mannequin from Buffalo Bill's dungeon.
Who just finished feeding on a litter of puppies.
The Singin' in the Rain comic is a great way to relive the classic movie ... in the same way that having an Astro Pop is a great way to relive real space travel.
The Least Necessary Superhero Accessory Ever
Unless he's in the hands of a very skilled writer, Superman can be kind of a boring dude. Mostly because his superpower is everything -- from super-ventriloquism to throwing his chest logo as a projectile, there's no problem that Superman can't solve by dipping into his bottomless well of often-never-seen-before powers that he just discovered he has. It's not like Batman would ever resort to such a hackneyed storytelling device ...
Why do that when you can throw money at the problem?
This becomes a problem for toy makers trying to sell a Superman line. You can't really market any accessories, because Superman doesn't need any goddamn accessories. Giving Superman a bitchin' exoskeleton is like giving Superman a rascal scooter -- he doesn't have the slightest need for either. Luckily the folks at Kenner heard those concerns and said, "Yeah, but what if we gave him both?"
Here's the Superman Justice Jogger.
"Take the world's most powerful superhero and strap him into a machine that was defeated by Ewoks!"
The Justice Jogger was a walking machine for Superman that promised "power stepping action" as though goddamn Superman is mostly known for his inability to get around under his own power.
It's an accessory that would make sense for Professor Xavier, but not so much for a superhero who is not only not disabled, but is what some might even call ... super-abled? It's like giving the Flash a Prius -- if anything, it would only slow the hero down by several magnitudes. Seeing Superman stomp around in a robotic Hoveround makes it look like he had a bad breakup with Lois Lane and gave up on life.
"Why bother, Wonder Woman? You're just going to leave like she did!"
J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop-culture nostalgia podcast Rewatchability ( rewatchability.com) which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.
For more ridiculous toys, check out The 10 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Toys Exported by China and 9 Unintentionally Terrifying Old-Timey Children's Toys.
Daniel O'Brien can help your kids draft their own presidential fantasy team, with these hilarious-but-true profiles of our past leaders in Your Presidential Fantasy Dream Team!