The special edition versions of the Star Wars films and the recent prequels left many fanboys wondering if George Lucas maybe wasn't the visionary filmmaker they had all worshipped and adored. But one aspect of Lucas's vision that has never come into question is his ability to market the hell out of a franchise.
It started back in 1977 with a small run of action figures spawned by the original Star Wars film, but it has since turned into a billion-dollar industry. Of course, you don't make that much money by being terribly picky about what gets branded with a Star Wars logo, and over the years there has been some truly terrible merchandise that Lucas and Co should be embarrassed about — were they not swimming around in a Death Star-sized vault full of cash. Here's the worst of the worst.
He helped the rebellion fight off the Empire, battle the forces of evil and save the galaxy. So how is R2-D2 thanked? By having his insides gutted and filled with guppies and aquarium sand. Even his single eye has been poked out and turned into a periscope for viewing the fish from the inside. Ok, that part's kind of cool. $US80.
Though it apparently can't be used to detect when you're walking onto a trap door in Jabba's palace, the force does give Jedis some ability to see the future. You can, too, with this Yoda-shaped version of the classic Magic 8-Ball released alongside The Empire Strikes Back. If only the Jedi master could have seen what lied ahead and gotten out of his film contract after Return of the Jedi.
So let's get this straight. He commands an army of genetically engineered clone troopers, is capable of building a working lightsabre, and has a super weapon the size of a small moon at his disposal. But this Darth Vader-themed radio can only play CDs and tune in AM or FM stations? Come on, even being able to play WMA files — arguably just as evil as Vader — would have been better than this. $US70.
In the past few years Williams-Sonoma has really gone all out with its Star Wars licence. And at first glance this R2-D2 themed spatula looks like a whimsical addition to your kitchen. But there's a reason spatulas are made with a boring rounded shape. All the extra details on R2's silhouette are going to tear your pancakes to shreds when you try to flip them. So we can't help but wonder if this was actually designed by a Sith who's laughing at us maniacally from a galaxy far, far away. $US15.
We're happy to disavow the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. But this terrible Star Wars Christmas Album is just as bad, particularly since it's gone back into production. The fourth track on the album, What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?) pretty much sums up the terribleness here.
Still not convinced? Well how about this: The album is technically also the debut of Jon Bon Jovi, who sings with a high school choir on the track R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
In what has to be one of the most awkward Star Wars tie-in products of all time, this sucker commemorates that hilarious scene in The Phantom Menace where Liam Neeson's character catches Jar Jar's darting tongue during dinner.
But instead of going the Stretch Armstrong route and making a novelty toy you can twist and stretch around, this horrific piece of candy encourages kids — and die-hard grown up collectors — to literally suck on Jar Jar's tongue. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during that product pitch.
Apparently one of the most popular and menacing screen villains of all time wasn't scary enough for this line of spooky bobble-head dolls. So the solution was to mash Darth Vader up with one of the lamest movie baddies of all time. Frankenstein? Really? Not even Robert De Niro could make that character creepy to modern audiences. $US12.
Hanging Christmas lights around your home during the holidays is already debated as being a tacky way to celebrate the season. But a chain of astromech droids strung across your window removes any doubt. Hasn't this droid been through enough already? Remember, he's the one who always has to stay back with C3PO. $US40.
Probably invented before the days of MovieTickets.com when sweaty fanboys had to line up in the sweltering summer heat to actually buy tickets at the box office, these handheld misters provide a refreshing blast of mist with every pump. Now we can understand why Yoda would be coming to your aide on a hot day, but Vader and Boba Fett? It seems highly unlikely. They're more likely to let you die of heat stroke and then feed your corpse to a Rankor for fun. $US20.
But not every father and son relationship is as dysfunctional. Sometimes they can be even worse, like the ageing Star Wars fanboy we picture forcing his son to join him down by the river — we mean the swamps of Dagobah — to do a little fishing with this poorly-themed tackle set. The lightsaber-handled fishing rod is its only saving grace, and even then... ugh.
Of course this is literally just the tip of the Star Destroyer here. There are thousands upon thousands of terrible Star Wars products out there, so feel free to share your favourite atrocities in the comments.
Lead image: Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press