Merch Hunter

evilgrammer

Okay, so to say that Kelsey Grammer is going to be replacing a tiny, blonde model in a movie franchise is kind of a ridiculous lie. But, with the news Deadline just broke that he’s going to be joining the cast of Transformers 4 as its main non-robot villain, the rumors that director Michael Bay is going to be changing up the strategy he used while making the first three films in order to give us something different appear to be true. Gone is the strategy where Shia LaBeouf and some hot, young actress make goo-goo eyes at each other while incoherent robot action swirls around them, and in its place is a plan where more established actors like Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and now Grammer are being looked at to shoulder the weight of the non-robot segments of the film.

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Merch Hunter - Large

With news coming through that John Carter has surprised absolutely nobody by losing Disney a bucket-load of cash, despite hitting the top of the box office in my own dear country and hanging around the top three of the U.S. box office, the fact that the Mouse House have apparently chosen not to try and take fill advantage of the merchandise buck looks all the more baffling. This is just one more step in a disastrous extra-release marketing campaign that saw one of the poorest cinematic trailers I have ever seen, underwhelming posters, and a generally underwhelming, unprestigious release for a film which actually deserved an awful lot more. Merchandising dollars can mean a massive financial return that can often sweeten a box office failure, as well as setting up better home release sales on the back of the brand reinforcement that toys, clothes and the usual assorted accouterments can bring. So why exactly isn’t my local Disney Store awash with John Carter branded products? And why is the online Disney Store stocking mouse mats, hoodies, mugs and smart phone covers as the primary lines for the merchandise campaign?

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Merch Hunter - Large

I invite you to imagine a scene for a minute: a handsome man, with the kind of chiseled chin you could sharpen spoons on in an embarrassingly fine suit whose intricate detail blinded three tailors in the making sits at a Texas Holdem table, sucking daintily on a Vesper and with a cigarette lit for ornamentation. A gun presses into his ribs, another comfortably into his calf, and about his person are secreted millions of pounds worth of the British Intelligence Service’s most impressive, and most secret inventions. His smile cuts knowingly across an impeccably handsome face, eyes taking in infinitely more than his lush demeanor lets on as he imperceptibly stalks his prey. He is Bond, and no matter what you do about it, he is always going to be cooler than you. So, why the hell wouldn’t you want to make your life as close to his as possible? Your paunch might say more Gandalfini than Bond, and your social awkwardness would probably be the first, largest stumbling block in your application to MI5, but through the magpie-like acquisition of many fine pieces of James Bond merchandise, you too could pretend like a boss. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s precisely what this week’s Merch Hunter column is devoted to…

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Merch Hunter - Large

In a variation on the usual format, this week the Merch Hunter will be getting on his soap-box, because there is something fundamentally broken with the way that studios and marketeers produce and release film posters these days, which has criminally devalued them as a really viable collectible compared to the Golden Age posters of yesteryear. The problem is, posters are now seen as little more than a disposable marketing tool, rather than a celebration of the subject film: they are deemed an obligatory step in the pre-release campaign and in 90% of cases are given less consideration or dutiful care than the ridiculous promotional material that is sent out in bulk to bloggers (like Drive tooth-picks and Horrible Bosses beach-balls). Film posters are supposed to be works of art: they should not be limited to cheap thrill character reveals or plot hints, because the trailer already exists for those reasons. Yet time and time again, modern studios feel the need to advance this risible idea of the poster as a “teaser”, which not only makes it completely disposable after the event in most cases, but also fundamentally redefines what a poster is. Instead of something to be held in esteem, and given pride of place on cherished wall-space, what is left is a glorified jpeg, expressly aimed at the blogosphere and its hunger for new material no matter what the cost.

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Merch Hunter - Large

This week, in place of the usual triptych of found items and a T-Shirt of the Week, Merch Hunter is dedicated entirely to the mighty tee, the single most versatile member of the wardrobe family. Why 12? Well, science has proven that 12 is the magic number in terms of tee ownership (don’t look it up, it was published in a science journal you probably won’t know of…), allowing the owner to rotate nicely across two weeks, while taking a three day slot for whichever design is the Featured of the Week. After a few months of this rotation, throw in a few wild cards, thanks to supplemental purchase, and you’ll have a winning formula for T-shirt success. And yes, it really should be that mathematical. I seriously had to resist the urge to just make a list of the 100 Star Wars T-Shirts You Need To Own Now, but that will no doubt appear in the future, given how many incredibly impressive designs there are out there (and hardly any of them lining George Lucas’s pocket). For once, my inane wafflings are not needed at all to sell the inclusions below, just look at the pictures and see how many of them you can resist. I’d advise buying them all obviously: but try to only wear one at a time.

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Merch Hunter - Large

The merch world has been ablaze recently with talk of the annual Toy Fair, which as ever has teased some fantastic products set for release within the next year or so, with big news coming for the Amazing Spider-man and Avengers lines, and a lot of frankly mind-boggling non-movie related toys that seem to come from a totally different planet than the simple blocks and cars I used to play with in the Time Before Beard. As usual, here are the finest merchandise discoveries of the week, two of which come directly from the Toy Fair, as well as the usual T-shirt of the week, inspired by the increasingly exciting upcoming release of Prometheus, which I will hopefully be seeing at Cannes for FSR if all goes to plan (and it’s actually there). Booby traps negotiated, angry native tribes dodged, I emerged blinking into the light, victorious and mucky with the treasures that you should all go and buy. Keep the industry alive. Bally-ho! Assemble! And other such rallying calls.

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Merch Hunter - Large

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so you might have expected something here dedicated to the merchandise of romantic films. But until you can get an official When Harry Met Sally orgasm sandwich, there’s very little overlap in terms of those films and the collectible world. Unless we’re talking Twilight. And I can assure you right now, we bloody well aren’t talking Twilight. So instead, this week’s column is once again dedicated to the finest things in collecting life, including a further addition to the Mr. Potato Head film co-licensed products. You can’t see it, but I can assure you that the excitement radiating from my every orifice is tangible. There’s also even more Lego – almost a weekly addition to this column you’ll note, but a wholly justified one in this case - and a book that would make Crime & Punishment blush for being so rubbish. It might also be the most expensive book I have ever recommended people buy, but who cares really – the only way out of recession is through frivolous, short-sighted spending. Probably.

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Merch Hunter - Large

There should be a rule somewhere that Groundhog Day be committed to the vaults as one of the prime comedies of all time, such is the film’s importance to the world of cinema. It is at once a simple romantic comedy with a high-concept, easily digestible and entertaining, and yet it is also a theoretical wonder, inspiring philosophical and specifically metaphysical debate at the same time as featuring a groundhog driving a pick-up truck. That is some kind of achievement. It is also a film that inspires fierce fandom: last year, I had the temerity to calculate how many days Bill Murray spends reliving Groundhog Day. People actually queued up to pull my theories (which were supposed to be humorous) to pieces and I was left a broken, quivvering husk of a man. So this year, I’m being far more safe, and simply looking at some of the best ever Groundhog Day merchandise. I could be hilarious, and simply post the same bit of merchandise three times in a row, but that would probably only be funny to me, so I won’t.

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Merch Hunter - Large

This week’s merchandise world has gone loopy for The Dark Knight Rises with two stellar announcements by two of the world’s biggest collectible players, in DC Direct and Hot Toys, and 2012 looks like it’s going to be a good year for anyone who collects Bat Merch. There’s also a couple of entries from Mattel, making this the most bumperest Merch Hunter column ever. It’s been a thrill-ride, and I’d like to thanks Jesus Christ and Chris Nolan for giving me the strength to achieve this monumental feat. So anyway, this week’s Merch Hunter is dedicated to Chris Nolan’s upcoming trilogy-ender, and the news that has got collectors’ tongues wagging and seats wet in the past week or so. So put away your wallets for now, because you won’t be able to buy what is listed here just yet – and in all honesty, saving up for them is probably going to be a pragmatic decision, given how much dough is likely to be needed to buy them.

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Merch Hunter - Large

This week, I have been mostly losing all of my free time to the dark corridors of eBay, dredging the murky waters for a decent metaphor and the hidden nuggets of merchandise gold amongst the seemingly endless amounts of over-priced silt.Obviously you get some utter shit – like this genuine piece of brick from the Asda car-park featured in The Full Monty (why exactly?) – but those willing to trawl through the collected detritus and Twilight paraphenalia can still find some wonderful potential additions to their own collections. But then, eBay these days is something of a seller’s market when you get to the really high-end merch, so unless you stumble across a kindly old lady who has no idea of the true worth of the treasure’s she is posting, it’s not exactly likely you’ll ever find a real bargain that will find you featured in your local paper grinning like a moron under some headline shouting of your incredible good fortune in buying the real ruby necklace from Titanic for a buck or something. Anyway, the long and short of that meandering opening gambit is that stuff is expensive. It is a recession after all. Or at least I think it still is. So picking up the kind of delightful trinkets and treasures below is no longer for the feint-hearted: but if you have a few spare (hundred) dollars, there are some really beautiful, frivolous things you can spend it on to feed your habits.

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Merch Hunter - Large

It’s a brand new year, and now that the festivities are well and truly done in Britain – where everything literally transforms into a Muppet’s Christmas Carol style wonderland where cars skid balletically and fatally across the smallest patches of ice , all households run out of salt and everything shuts down embarrassingly, as if noone was expecting the identical annual weather patterns - we can recommence with the serious business of buying as much multi-coloured movie crap as our bulging homes can take. No, of course I don’t believe it’s crap, but then I am one of those people who will be found in later years crushed under a pile of mint in the box Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion action figures, half-eaten by cats. Some might call it a problem, I call that a wonderfully fitting end. The more astute of you will notice I’ve dropped the numeric from the title – good work. The even more astute of you will realise it’s probably because I have forgotten which number comes next. Onward, merch hunters – to the shelves!

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Merch Hunter

Christmas time is here. It’s now totally official – a patch of black ice and a totalled car can attest to that for me – so the concerns of the merch buyers out there have probably shifted away from self-servient purchases to more altruistic ones. Good to remember that buying someone something that you want is often a hidden win, since they might get sick of it and you’ll get to keep it. Just saying. Anyway, while you might be thinking about buying for other people, it’s still important to look after number one, and the three offerings below for this week’s column should hopefully represent enough of a draw to get you reaching for the credit card. Especially number two on the list. P.S. If you happen to have $500k in your sock drawer, or in that loose change bottle you keep in the office, the greatest movie poster collectible of all time is now for sale on eBay.

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Merch Hunter

It’s time to play the music, it’s time to spend your dough. Something something Muppet Show. Ta-dah! New theme music. Just trying it out for this week. I think it needs some work, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it somewhere before. Anyway, onward to merch heaven. And this week, it’s quite literally a Muppet orgy. In celebration of FSR’s Muppet take-over, I do have bent over and welcomed in the sweet mistress of Jim Henson’s best-loved puppet creations. Even within the Muppet collecting world, there are different levels of financial requirement, from brand new action figures that come in at sub-$10 to a $10,000 collection of almost all of the Muppet Show Palisades Figures currently sitting on eBay. Below are three more relative rarities from the online marketplace, which should all appreciate in value quickly. And not only that (since Greed isn’t everything, counter to what Gordon Gecko tells us) they’re also classic celebrations of our dearest felt friends.

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This week’s column is brought to you by the letter e – for eBay: the single greatest opportunity for collectors to pick up gems for a tiny portion of their value. Yes, it’s a market that is now unfortunately populated by self-styled “experts” like never before – in the olden, black and white days, you could go to a yard sale, or a car boot sale, and pick up prime merch for a pittance, smiling in the knowledge that you had just robbed some ‘orrible little cretin of their inheritance – but there are still opportunities out there if you look hard enough. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve found a couple for you – just expect mostly exorbitant prices…

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It’s a dangerous time of year for movie merchandise collectors – unsure what your partners, friends or family have decided to buy, and yet torn by the need to invest in the latest additions to the market, many collectors go stir-crazy and can be found roaming the streets of every major city in the snow, tragically calling out for Turbo-Man. So the best thing to do to avoid that entirely fictional eventuality is to make a list, check it twice… that sort of thing. Only instead of writing doing which children are naughty and which are nice (and probably inviting some suspicious inquiries from disgruntled and probably scared parents), populate said list with all of the goodies you require come December 25th. That way, you can spend the rest of November and December buying the cheaper things you want yourself – that’s right, leave the £650 Batman busts for Grandma to buy. With that in mind, here we go with this week’s triumvirate of movie merch goodness – at “pocket money” prices for pockets that are beginning to feel the festive pinch…

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Being a professional obsessive might make me a social pariah, but it does offer me the opportunity to trawl the internet looking for my worldly fix with relative impunity – “what! This is work!” And even more importantly, it introduces me to some extremely cool stuff. Stuff that I will invariably buy on my own recommendation, or at least leave major hints to loved ones that I need them for Christmas of my birthday. Both of which are coming up, just in case you’re reading this, Mum… Anyway, a wise man once said that the important things in life aren’t things, but I would put it to him that he obviously hadn’t seen Disney’s Villain Vinylmations, or Sideshow Toys’ Batman busts, or Derek Deal’s posters, the big idiot. Luckily, no one here shares his false philosophies, so here are all of those lovely things below…

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Round my way, 99% of all Halloween costumes these days are zombie-based. The knack, it seems is finding the right gimmick to zombify – so you’ll see grown adults dressed as zombie jailbait schoolgirls, zombie sportsmen or zombie auditors. But the movie world can offer all manner of appropriate costumes that don’t require an unnaturally pale face, lashings of ketchup and a stumbling walk – for instance you could terrify everyone by going as Gary Busey. Just inhale two cans of hairspray for that real not-quite-right look. Seriously though, this week’s column is dedicated to the great and the good of movie Halloween costumes: think of it as inspiration. And never say I don’t do anything for you. In all honesty, they’re not the greatest costumes, but they will certainly make you the center of attention…

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Since it’s number 13, and we’ve all been infected with the Horror virus around these parts, this week’s column will be bloody and terribly scary. Well, not scary exactly (though I’m sure it could give Wes Craven’s decidedly non-trouser-messing recent stuff a good run for its money), but, like, dedicated to Halloween. Next week, with it being the last column before All Hallow’s Eve, I’ll be looking at some costumes you can pick up from the world of horror movies, so this week it’s all about murderous merch. Scary swag. Ghoulish goodies. And loads of other not-funny, but pleasant alliterative phrases in the same mold…

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To start – a news flash. The collecting world holds it breath in slightly anxious anticipation this week as The Bridge Direct, Inc dominated the merch-related news columns thanks to first being confirmed as Warner Bros toy maker of choice for next year’s massively prestigious The Hobbit line, and then blaming Justin Bieber’s haircut for losing them $100,000 in unsellable mop-topped dolls. The company have some previous in the merch arena, though nothing this grand yet, so it’s difficult to say whether they’ll meet expectations, and potentially pull a Star Wars action figures on us or not. My vote goes with not – there just isn’t the same fever in buying action figures these days, outside of Games Workshops, and those places are GRIM. Anyway, while we wait for those particular items (released next fall), which will include Basic Action Figures, Adventure Packs, Beast Packs, and Collector Figures, as well as “premium role play items” such as a Basic Sting Sword, a Basic Orcrist Sword, a Dwarven Battle Axe, and a Deluxe Sting Sword, here’s the usual weekly look at what else is out there for those interested in buying merch. Or at least mentally spending the thousands of dollars it would take to make these suggestions into a real collection… Hold tight for three hugely important auction lots from around the world’s greatest auction houses, including some letters written by a Rebel Without a Cause, Jim Carrey’s most puzzlesome film costume and Henry Winkler’s two wheeled nemesis. And yes, […]

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This week, while not breaking my hands, I have been mostly considering the question of video game tie-ins. Largely born out of that commercialist need to squeeze every last cent out of a film’s appeal, 99% of what is released to this market isn’t even worth considering, but there are exceptions, and they do – I have come to believe – fall within the merchandise remit. For some reason, despite the easy relationship between gaming and cinema as two immersive, escapist mediums, certain cinephiles will always look unfavorably upon gamers as their sweaty, pasty siblings. Just ask Roger Ebert. That probably has a lot to do with the slap-dash way most tie-ins are put together, and also something to do with the way Hollywood consistently fails to make good films out of games as well. So in the interest of diversity, and because my love of gaming is almost as profound and pronounced as my cinematic obsession, I hereby offer three of the greatest tie-ins every released.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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