10 Questionable Movie & TV Tie-Ins That No One Asked For

No cultural phenomenon would be a complete success without its own line of merchandise attached to it, and it makes sense: fans of popular TV shows, comic books, and movies will often seek out products that tie-in with those franchises, providing a great way for a lot of people to make a bunch of money. But when it comes to some infamous product tie-ins, we’ve got to wonder if it all that effort was worth it.

While this list is by no means complete, from breakfast cereal to questionable candy, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite boneheaded product tie-ins from the past for your perusing pleasure.

1. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cereal

Ralston Purina, which at the time sold food products for both humans and animals, introduced this cinnamon-and-marshmallow cereal based on the capers of Bill and Ted in their eponymous 1980s/1990s movies, with the slogan, “A Most Awesome Breakfast Adventure.” The adventure was short-lived, with TV host Arsenio Hall challenging a member of his audience to eat a bowl of the cereal in front of guest Alex Winters (aka Bill S. Preston Esq.) The product eventually disappeared from shelves, perhaps partly due to the fact that it resembled dog kibble.

2. G.I. Joe Shampoo

At the peak of G.I. Joe mania in 1988, Hasbro and Avon decided that the best way to get kids excited about a bath product is just to neglect to mention that it’s shampoo on the bottle. Is there even hair under those helmets? The world may never know.

3. Rocky “The Meat” Action Figure

Listen, we’re not here to say who does and doesn’t deserve their own action figure. But really, the piece of meat that Rocky Balboa abuses during training? Toymaker Jakks Pacific certainly thinks so, or it’s having some fun with all of us.

“Every character, boxing ring and outfit will be painstakingly recreated so that you can re-enact everything from Rocky’s 15 round battle with Apollo Creed to Paulie’s robot-tastic birthday party,” the toy’s description reads. Which means that the meat is… a character?

4. The Avengers “Signature Scent Collection”

avengersIf you can’t be a superhero yourself, why not smell like one? That was Marvel’s idea for a movie promotion, with a line of $29.99 scented named after various fictional buttkickers.

As for what an Avenger smells like, Thor’s scent — Worthy, Possess the Power — for example, is “a woody citrus cologne with a combination of bergamot, frozen ginger and wheatgrass blended with a hint of fresh natural grapefruit and layered with cypress.” Asgardian hammer not included.

5. Star Wars‘ Jar-Jar Binks Tongue Candy

We get it. As far as Star Wars characters go, JarJar Binks sucks. But why the creators of the popular franchise thought in 1999 that someone would want to make out with the annoying Phantom Menace menace, we do not know. This thing is just terrifying.

6. Star Trek Coffins

startrekcasketThe year 2007 marked the moment Trekkies could literally be fans for all eternity, with Star Trek caskets created by a company called Eternal Image. The afterlife vessel was inspired by the design of Spock’s torpedo coffin in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. In 2011, the company followed up with a line of cremation caskets, with three choices: Star Fleet Delta, Federation of Planets and Klingon. The company needed a proper burial a few years later when it went where many companies had gone before, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

7. Harry Potter’s Vibrating Broomstick

There are things you can buy that vibrate between your legs, but usually they aren’t marketed to children. Enter Mattel’s Nimbus 2000, a Harry Potter broomstick toy that had parents in an uproar upon its release in February 2001 due to battery-powered action that was supposed to mimic the experience of flight, but instead conjured up images of that seedy video store on the outskirts of town where no one looks each other in the eye.

It was, in fact, a hit with some adults.

“I’m 32 and enjoy riding the broom as much as my 12 year-old and 7-year-old,” wrote one customer in an Amazon review, according to Time.com.

8. Mazda’s Cross-Promotion With The Lorax

loraxsuvThe way I read Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, he spoke for the trees… and not SUVs. But in March 2012, Mazda thought it’d be a great idea to link a gas-guzzling machine to the beloved children’s book-turned-animated feature that’s all about man’s failure to protect the world from industrialization.

The film’s cross promotion with carmaker Mazda in February touted the fact that the new CX-5 was Lorax approved. Somehow, we don’t think so — and neither did many critics at the time, including The Atlantic, Forbes, and NPR, among others.

9. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Cereal

princeofthievescerealCereal based on a fictional character that tastes bad is one thing. Cereal that is apparently supposed to look like arrows but instead resembles naughty novelty snack mix from a bachelorette party, well… that’s another thing entirely. Ralston is the culprit yet again with this misguided attempt at archery-themed breakfast tied to the 1991 Kevin Costner flick.

10. The E.T. Atari Game

If someone was willing to go to the lengths of burying a product deep in the ground just to keep it from the general public, you know it had to be bad. Such was the case with millions of unsold E.T. video Atari game cartridges.

As urban lore had it, the major failure that was E.T. could’ve contributed to Atari’s downfall and subsequent sale to another company in 1983. The story of the abandoned cartridges turned out to be true, and in 2014, a band of courageous archaeologists liberated the so-awful-it’s-legendary stockpile of games — and they immediately hit eBay.

Lesson learned: if you’ve got a bad product, just bulldoze a bunch of dirt on top of it and let its legend grow.

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