7 Huh? Pieces Of Movie Merchandise Nobody Asked For
A good tie-in product shuts down the logic centers of your brain and makes you reach for your wallet like a dumb zombie. A bad tie-in product, on the other hand, triggers a mild existential crisis as you ponder questions like "Why did anyone think this needed to exist?" or "Why would God allow this?" or just ... "Why?" Here are some of those!
The Nightmarish Dune Coloring And Activity Books
Dune (1984) is a long-ass, weird-ass movie with a confusing plot and freaky David Lynch-created imagery ... and Universal Pictures looked at it and said "Kids are gonna go apeshit for this!" They were so sure that this shockingly dull S&M acid trip would be the next Star Wars that they threw money at every merchandise opportunity they could find, from Dune action figures to Dune bed sheets to a Dune storybook. They even envisioned little children throwing Dune-themed birthday parties:
But the most bizarre of all these products are the ones that asked kids to take out their crayons and color scenes of murder and cosmic insanity.
The Dune coloring and activity books (yes, that's plural) included fun games like calculating the weight of the depraved Baron Harkonnen ...
Join the dots to form a grotesquely mutated Guild Navigator ...
Or play dress up with Kyle MacLachlan's character.
One of the activities has a backwards message that children must read by looking at a mirror (that, or slipping into an inter-dimensional room with a dancing dwarf). The message? "One will come ... the voice from the other world ... bringing the Holy War, the Jihad, which will cleanse the Universe and bring us out of darkness." FUN!
And once the kids are exhausted from all that entertainment, they can relax with the "Spice Cookies" they prepared earlier -- but do note that the book's recipe substitutes the mind-expanding spice drug from Dune with regular cinnamon before you get cooking.
These were the last official coloring and activity books for a David Lynch movie, sadly.
We Finally Know The Story Behind The "Horny C-3PO" Trading Card
Ancient nerds were very happy to see the first Star Wars trading cards in 1977, back when you couldn't just type the name of the movie into your phone and get 1,110,000,000 results in 1.02 seconds. And C-3PO, apparently, was also happy to see them:
You probably assumed that the above image of C-3PO showing off his golden lightsaber was Photoshopped by some internet prankster in like 2005 to use as his forum signature, but no -- it's real. All of it. Even StarWars.com has acknowledged the card and confirmed that the original archive photo contained the same boner (as in "mistake," but also as in "boner"). In fact, back in '77 the Topps Company was forced to print a "corrected" version in which poor Threepio has been neutered:
But how the Kit Fisto did that happen? StarWars.com theorized that a piece of the suit fell off while the photo was being taken and happened to line up with the light reflected on the droid's groin, which would be enough to make one believe in space wizards. An alternate explanation involved prop masters literally dicking around on set, but if so they've never stepped forward.
Well, in 2019, Mental Floss asked actor Anthony Daniels, C-3PO himself, and he gave his version of the events: while filming the scene in which the droid takes an oil bath (evidently not a cold one), the liquid dissolved the adhesive in the gold tape that kept the parts of his metal pants together, causing one section to "sprung apart." Daniels further clarified that he will never sign this trading card because his stuffy droid counterpart wouldn't approve of it. Luckily, Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker have no such qualms:
It looks like Topps didn't totally learn from the mistake, going by the 2013 typo that was supposed to credit Star Wars collecting site RebelScum.com but tragically omitted the "s."
The RoboCop VCR Board Game, Featuring Sanitized Movie Footage
What with all the watered-down sequels, cartoons, and long-delayed statues, it's easy to forget how brutal the first RoboCop movie was. A rapist gets shot in the dick! A guy gets hit by a car and explodes! Ahh, perfect material board game night with the family!
There were actually TWO RoboCop board games: a regular one, and a VCR game whose box and ads promised "actual movie footage." What you didn't find out until you got your hands on the game was that the footage was "edited to be suitable for ages 12 and above." So, for instance, the classic dick-shooting scene gets interrupted by a screen telling you that RoboCop arrested those rascally rapists.
The car explosion? Yeah, that guy got arrested too (after RoboCop patiently scooped him up from the sidewalk, we guess). Leland Palmer gets blown up with an assault cannon? Off to jail with his charred corpse.
The language is cleaned up, too: the "F#$% me!" guy at the convenience store now says "Why me?" in a much sillier voice. The point of the game is to go around the board and aim for the spaces that trigger a random clip for the movie. The first to get a certain number of "arrests" (murders) wins -- but watch out for those "painful memories" clips or RoboCop will get sad and lose and turn!
On other clips, the effect is "No Effect," other than you just got to watch a 20-second clip of RoboCop driving his car or something. Sadly, there's no "Bitches, Leave" card that makes everyone else abandon the game. Overall, this still seems like a more daring and ballsy adaptation than the latest movie.
A Trading Card Of Odo From Star Trek Losing His Virginity
A downside of living in the '90s is that if you wanted to re-watch a steamy moment from one of your favorite shows, you had to look up a VHS copy or rely on something called "your imagination." It was horrible. Thankfully, fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a much more convenient way of reliving the most erotic scene in the series, maybe even the entire franchise: this trading card of Constable Odo popping his cherry with a lady who looks distractingly like a certain 2016 presidential candidate (we're not saying which one).
Odo, if you haven't seen the show, is basically a pile of cosmic Play-Doh they hired to fill the Spock/Data role. In this episode, he falls for a sexy grifter and ends up slipping his X-Wing into her exhaust port (only hardcore Star Trek fans will get this reference). That one-night stand was so momentous that it was immortalized in not one but two trading cards:
Star Trek: DS9 trading cards in general seemed especially concerned with Odo's sex life. Besides the two cards with the former First Lady, at least four other cards show Odo staring romantically into other women's eyes. Because that's why everyone watched this show: to see the putty man pop awkward boners.
Meanwhile, how many trading cards of Captain Kirk having sex are there? Zero. Clearly, his "biggest man-slut in Star Trek" reputation is undeserved.
Marvel's Man-Thing "Shower Mishap" Sticker
Marvel Comics introduced a character called Man-Thing in May, 1971, and fans began making crude jokes about that name exactly five seconds later ("Man-Thing" can also refer to the penis, you see). Despite being aware of the jokes, Marvel never really did anything to encourage them, except maybe for the naming of the Giant-Sized Man-Thing series. The character himself is mute, but if he could talk, he'd probably say something dignified and impossible to misinterpret, like ...
... or, or he could say that, sure.
Had prison shower jokes not been invented yet when these Topps Marvel Super Heroes stickers came out in 1976? Was the world so innocent that a character essentially named "Male Sexual Organ" could say something like that and no one batted an eye? The rest of the stickers in this set range from unbearably corny puns:
To complete non-sequiturs:
The most baffling part is that these stickers were re-released in book form in 2020 (because even the dumbest part of your childhood deserves a deluxe treatment) and the shower soap gag is still there. We checked. On the upside, you can actually remove the sticker and use it to decorate your Oz box set, if you want.
Unfortunately Topical Godzilla Trading Card Goes, Uh, "Viral"
The makers of Magic: The Gathering recently announced a special series of Godzilla-themed cards as a fun way of saying "Hey, here are two things that exist." One of the cards features SpaceGodzilla (like Godzilla, but from Space), so the Magic folks decided to name the card after one of his signature powers combined with the word "Death" to give it a little more edge. And so was born the card titled SpaceGodzilla, Death Coron-- oh, shit.
This is kind of like naming a trading card "Exploding Airplane" in 2001 or "Drowned Katrina" in 2005 -- even if it's a complete coincidence, it's still a big yikes. The company decided to rename of the card to avoid bumming the hell out of everyone who looked at it, but, since these things take a long time to print, they weren't able to change the initial run in time. They went with "SpaceGodzilla, Void Invader" for the new name, which hopefully doesn't have to be changed again when we're invaded by aliens in 2025 or so.
The original, uncorrected card has sold for as much as $275 on eBay, but we're not sure if even hardcore collectors will be willing to buy it in the future, since we'll all be doing our best to pretend the year from hell never happened. For the same reason, Asterix comics probably won't be re-using a certain character introduced in the 2017 volume (and not in an '80s comic, as some viral tweets claimed):
The Alien Children's Board Game, Action Figure, And Trading Cards
You might argue that a lot of the products we've covered in this article weren't really for kids -- they were for adults who play with kids' crap. An important distinction. Well, no one can say the same thing about the 1979 Alien board game, since its box was decorated with some children playing as the about-to-be-brutally murdered crew members:
It even says "Ages 7 and Up" on the side. The goal of the game is to move around a board representing the spaceship Nostromo until you reach the escape shuttle, all while avoiding the rather dorky looking Xenomorph pieces controlled by your rivals:
Oh, and if the alien on the box looks familiar, that's because they used a photo of the Alien action figure by Kenner -- which was intended to be part of a whole line of toys. That never happened, but we did at least get a fun TV ad for the first and only figure in which some preteens somehow recreate the plot of a movie they're not allowed to watch:
Naturally, the movie also had its own trading card series ... which made it look like a zany workplace comedy that happened to be set where no one can hear you scream.
Even the cat got its own card:
And, perhaps most disturbingly, so did a smiling H.R. Giger, the maniac who designed history's most terrifying dick monsters:
Top Image: Kenner