Film and TV

Star Wars: That's Not How The [Sales] Force Works

"Look into the eyes of the [gungan] and despair."
"Look into the eyes of the [gungan] and despair." Cap Candy
click to enlarge "Look into the eyes of the [gungan] and despair." - CAP CANDY
"Look into the eyes of the [gungan] and despair."
The release of Star Wars was more or less the Big Bang of modern movie merchandising. To that point, you'd had the occasional toy tie-in (including my all-time personal favorite), and a few action figures from movies and TV shows that moved respectable numbers of units, but nothing that would compare to what George Lucas and Kenner would unleash upon unsuspecting parents in 1977.

Fittingly for the waning days of the Me Decade, my introduction to the world of Star Wars toys was the result of youthful greed. Given the choice between a single die-cast metal Shogun Warrior or two plastic SW action figures (and still angry at losing the fist missiles to my Mazinga), I opted for the latter. Dad returned from his business trip with Han Solo and a stormtrooper. Honestly, Han looked more like Ham Salad from Hardware Wars, but I didn't care; the hook had been set.

More figures followed, along with vehicles, playsets and even that worthless Darth Vader carrying case. And I was far from alone; millions of kids turned Kenner into the top-ranked toy manufacturer (by the end of 1978, it had sold more than 40 million figures) and made George Lucas — who passed on a directing fee in order to keep the licensing and merchandising rights for himself — richer than Croesus.

[Fun fact: The Lucas family appeared in the prequels, and naturally got their own action figure set:]

Where Lucas and Star Wars really pioneered was in the sheer tonnage of characters, as well as producing multiple variants for each. Even the first wave had two versions of Luke (original and X-wing pilot), but subsequent movies, with their numerous well-realized out characters and not at all derivative locations, have led to $33 billion-with-a-b in merchandising sales for the likes of Lucas, Kenner, Hasbro (which holds the licenses until 2018) and Disney (bought Lucasfilm in 2012).

So it makes a certain amount of sense that they're not even trying at this point. Granted, you could argue that shark got jumped when they released the Gonk figure, to say nothing of dozens of characters without speaking roles and/or five seconds of screen time. Still, they were actual characters, not housewares. Or confectionaries from the bowels of hell, like the Jar Jar lollipop in the header pic.

May 4 is Star Wars Day. Arbitrarily, as it turns out, as May 25 is the actual release date. This year, the Houston Press received an email concerning "ultimate fan collectibles" for the home:


Show your true fandom this Star Wars Day or also known as “May the 4th” by bringing the force of the galaxy home with you! Celebrate the beloved Star Wars saga all year long with one-of a kind housewares products that any Jedi needs in their home.
It is indeed difficult to tell "true fans" of Star Wars on any day other than May 4th. After all, they're not the types to wear themed T-shirts, or put Rebellion/Empire bumper stickers on their car, or attend conventions dressed as obscure characters from the movies and TV shows. Please go on.

Darth Vader Self Stirring Mug- $22.99

May the force be stronger than your coffee! This futuristic Darth Vader mug spins and mixes, stirring your beverage to perfection. Use the force to keep your coffee frothy without wasting any clean spoons... what a life-saber! These revolving novelty mugs show your true love for the galaxy and your coffee.

Vader — were he able to drink delicious coffee instead of being forced to subsist on the nutrient slurry pumped directly into his digestive tract by his armor — would surely drink it black. To paraphrase R. Lee Ermey, go Force choke yourselves.

Star Wars Beer Steins- $39.99 each

These signature steins stand at an impressive 9 inches tall and hold up to 22 oz. of your favorite beverage! The head-hinged lid closes, keeping your drink from spilling (no matter how much force you use). Show your true wookie spirit with these high-quality ceramic steins!

Twenty-two ounces? Not an "Imperial" pint, then? [hold for applause] Look, I'm just as enthusiastic about combining my childhood Star Wars fanaticism with my grown-up alcoholism, but what does "wookie" [sic] spirit have to do with anything? Everyone knows 22 ounces of Cortyg brandy would kill any human.

Star Wars Salt and Pepper Shakers- $24.95

These salt and pepper shakers R sure 2 be the perfect accessory for your dining room table! Add some Star Wars flavor to your meal, or use them as a center piece! These ceramic R2D2 and R2Q5 shakers are molded with accurate R2-Details!
This "R" "2" stuff is even more painful coming as close as it does to the anniversary of Prince's death. We should also thank the Maker they're not releasing any commemorative toilet accessories that invent puns out of C-3PO's name.

I'd pay good money for a Jek Porkins Outdoor Roaster, however.

Star Wars Darth Vader Oven Glove $24.95

Rule your kitchen with an iron fist of force with this Right Handed Darth Vader Oven Glove. The replica glove from the Star Wars movie franchise is made from flexible, heat resistant silicone withstanding up to 445 degrees.

Of all the things to emphasize about your (frankly unspectacular) oven mitt, the fact it can be used in an oven should be a given.

Beyond that, this has BDSM overtones that go quite nicely with my sinfully delicious lasagne recipe.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar