QUICKBEAM'S OUT ON A LIMB:
Welcome to Merchandising Hell
Emblazoned above the gate: "Abandon all disposable income, ye who enter here."
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Let us wind back the clock to, oh say, late April of this year. Certainly you remember the unprecedented hype that surrounded Episode One: The Phantom Menace? All the local news channels were interviewing people in line outside of Manns Chinese Theatre (myself being one of them), people rushing Toys R Us at 3:00 AM to secure some pre-release action figures, the cover of Time, Newsweek (and yes, Popular Mechanics). Remember the Jedi Knight posters and little C-3PO coffee mugs?
No one was immune. None of you could hide from it. Every bookseller, record store, 7-Eleven, and Taco Bell was saturated. Every shopping mall across the country was awash with countless toys, confections, and do-dads. Even the Pygmy tribes in the secluded Amazonian jungle had little Darth Maul T-shirts. Especially here in L.A. I bore witness to the growing frenzy as special marketing campaigns were executed throughout Hollywood. Banners, billboards, and signs, oh my! Its an Industry Town, after all.
Well, its all going to happen again
this time with The Lord of the Rings.
When Peter Jacksons first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, is released in 2001 something will happen that you Tolkien fans have never seen before. Mark my words, it will come upon you like a huge, unstoppable wave. It is the powerful tide of COMMERCE; and you can swim with it if you like, because struggling against it is quite pointless.
Sure, there was Ralph Bakshis 1978 adaptation of LOTR, but come on
It was so poorly received it didnt make a dent. What limited merchandising there was has now become a heyday for people holding auctions on eBay. I recall there was a handful of action figures, a nice calendar, and one exceptional board game from Milton Bradley (still my all time fave). Thats about it.
New Line Cinema will undoubtedly give the upcoming releases the Star Wars treatment. And I certainly dont blame them! It will be an entertainment juggernaut that Hollywood execs glibly refer to as "Instant franchise." Prepare yourselves for the hype, the glory, and more merchandise than you ever knew could be. You see, merchandisers are very smart people, and likewise Saul Zaentz, who holds all licenses for products related to Tolkiens work.
Here are my predictions for products we will see related to the new films. Theyre coming, for better or for worse:
- Gollum Toothpastehelps to keep your kids teeth shiny clean, even if "we only has six."
- Twirling Ringwraith Lollypopsthe little battery operated kind with a handle shaped like a Nazgûl. Follow one of these with a generous brushing of Gollum Toothpaste.
- Shadowfax Pony Foodfor all you equestrians who want your pony to grow up big and strong.
- Samwises Gardening Kitthis is inevitable. A spade, nutrient-rich soil, and some ch-ch-ch-chia seeds conveniently packaged and sold at drug stores.
- LOTR Multi-vitaminstart and colorful with 100% Daily Value of vitamins & minerals. Kids love biting the head off Aragorn.
- Happy Orthanc Playsetplastic construction toy for pre-schoolers to build their own Orc stronghold. Sold in conjunction with:
- Hasty Ents Playsetfor the pre-schooler who wants to see his trees win the day! The ultimate environmental message for you kids.
- Gandalf in Moria Coin Bankplastic figure of Gandalf standing next to a deep "coin well." Every time you drop in a quarter, the voice chip yells out "Fool of a Took!"
- Butterburs Fax Servicewhen you absolutely need that letter sent RIGHT AWAY.
- LOTR Breakfast Cerealcrunchy Rings of toasted corn with little marshmallows shaped like Morgul Knives.
- Grey Havens Beach Towelsunbathing by the shore? Dont forget your Cirdan Sunscreen!
- Phial of Galadriel Nightlightplug it in and your childs room is immersed in glowing elf-light. Chases all the unpleasant bug-a-boos away.
- Shelob Roach Trapsrid your home of ants, roaches, and flies. Better than spinning your own web.
- Lórien Lembastasty health food bars sold at gyms & fitness clubs. Dairy-free, low carbs, and high protein for those long jaunts on the Stairmaster.
- Pippins Palantírworks just like a Magic 8-Ball, only it doesnt take over your mind.
- Wormtongue Shoe PolishIn honor of the best boot-licker in Middle-earth.
I have seen the future. All these things are coming; as are the Happy Meals, bumper stickers, and special edition VISA cards. As long as you have money to spend, merchandisers will have something to sell you. Youve been warned.
Much too hasty,