5 Toy Movies and Movie Toys That Never Saw the Light of Day
Unless you’ve been living under a pink plastic rock for the past few months, you’re probably aware that Barbie is the biggest movie of the year — so much so that Hollywood is now hellbent on turning every retro toy, no matter how storyless, into a major motion picture. Hot Wheels? Magic 8 Ball? That ill-conceived Atomic Energy Kit for Junior Oppenheimers? Everything is back on the (not so) creative table.
But as lucrative as toy-based movies may be, a few past attempts to turn lifeless hunks of plastic into major motion pictures never made it to the finish line. And occasionally, it works the other way: Toys based on movies don’t ever see the light of day. Some plaything-movie combos that crashed and burned include…
We Nearly Got Danny DeVito as Stretch Armstrong
Ah, Stretch Armstrong, the elastic bodybuilder every kid loved to play with/torture. Although the concept of making a movie about a bendy crop-top-wearing superhero may seem like a fairly simple task, producing a Stretch movie has proved surprisingly difficult.
Hollywood’s repeated attempts to make a Stretch Armstrong movie weirdly began with a family comedy written for Tim Allen — basically The Santa Clause but with stretching instead of immortal elf powers. Then it pivoted to a superhero story starring Danny DeVito, who was set to receive a $10 million payday. DeVito eventually dropped out because the script contained multiple jokes about his height. After losing DeVito, Hollywood tried to replace him with the next closest thing: Twilight’s Taylor Lautner. While the details on this version are a bit sparse, it apparently would have leaned into what everyone associates with the toy line — gritty action and hyper-violence.
A NERF Action Movie That’s Just a Regular Action Movie (With NERF)
How do you make a movie based on NERF? Well, Brooklyn Nine-Nine writer Van Robichaux came up with a genius pitch: just make a straight-up, regular action movie, but with NERF products. As Robichaux explained: “Get a Rock, a Hemsworth, any big action stars. Hire a great action director and do a normal action movie, but every weapon’s a NERF weapon. Every bullet is foam. Never directly address it in the film and play it all straight.”
‘Osmosis Jones’ Action Figures Were Scrapped at the Last Minute
Well, apparently, this disgusting premise nearly yielded a toy line, which was all set to go into production — with completed prototypes put on display at Toy Fair 2001.
Then the actual movie came out, and it “obviously was tanking,” leading to the toy line getting unceremoniously scrapped.
Ridley Scott’s ‘Monopoly’ Was Close to Happening
From the director of Blade Runner comes… a movie about a sentient thimble with disposable cash? Yes, we almost got a Monopoly movie directed by Sir Ridley Scott. Reportedly, the plot would have involved a Manhattan realtor who gets magically sucked into Monopoly City, pals around with Uncle Pennybags, and has to defeat the “evil Parker Brothers.”
‘Conan the Barbarian’ Died So ‘Masters of the Universe’ Could Live
A line of 1980s toys based on Conan the Barbarian sounds like a slam dunk — toy horses and camels for Conan to brutalize sold separately.
While Mattel had a licensing agreement with Conan Properties International (CPI), they “backed out” and never made any Conan toys at all. So when the toymaker started cranking out figures of He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, another fantasy story about a sword-wielding muscleman in fur briefs, CPI sued. They ended up losing the case because He-Man’s presence at Mattel pre-dated the Conan deal. Mattel would eventually follow through on a deal to make toys out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but it didn’t go well.
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