Merch Hunter

Another week, another introduction mentioning Christmas: after all, this week has seen the official unveiling of Christmas 2011 with the addition of Christmas decorations to the Disney Store’s online catalogue (that’s the actual scientifically proved start of the Christmas period, you see), and I’ll be damned if I let that one fly without a mention. Anyway, back to the serious business of movie merchandise, and three fairly light-hearted, but no less essential picks, with yet another beyond-awesome creation by Japan’s inimitable Medicom Toy company, some shoes bearing the face of the greatest movie villain of all time (no, sadly not Ballbricker from Porky’s), and baby clothes. Don’t judge me, I’m broody. For no reason at all, here’s a column dedicated disproportionately to Disney.

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Lately my dreams have been haunted by a man of few words who wears shades and driving gloves, chews a tooth pick and looks at least 85% cooler than I could ever, thanks to the beautifully cut cloth on his back. It might be blood spattered and adrenaline soaked, but at some point in my life I will own the original jacket worn by Ryan Gosling in Drive – not a reproduction, the real deal, no matter what it costs me, that much I promise you. In honor of that compulsion, which is usually what drives my own merch obsession, and to offer a balance to last week’s bizarro column, this week I will be mostly offering up three of the coolest, rarest merchandise purchases that have ever captured my attentions. These are some of the items I would do terrible, terrible things for – which by the time I die, I will most certainly have owned one way or another. They are my merch Everests.

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I’m a great big fan of Christmas, and I’m already compiling a long-list of festive goodies that will make my Christmas Merch Hunter Bumper Annual Special 2011 the column-based event of the year. And since the holiday season is now creeping upon us, with branded chocolate boxes and cookies already in my local store (cue near-mental breakdown of all parents in vicinity), it is high-time I suggested some merch products that channel the spirit of the season, without the explicit baubles and sparkle and whatnot. What follows then is a trio of goodies that are as camp as Christmas (to borrow a popular phrase from round these parts) and don’t care a jot about class or what anyone else thinks of them. This week’s column was brought to you by the letter T. For tacky.

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In honor of the hugely anticipated release of the Star Wars George Lucas Pays No Attention To His Fans Special Edition Blu-Ray Collection, this week was always going to have a definite Star Wars flavor about it. But rather than simply go with a conventional approach, and proffer my thoughts on three mint, boxed Japanese variant action figures, I thought I’d try and hunt out some bona fide curios. Because believe it or not, George Lucas has allowed the good Star Wars name to be taken in vain an awful lot of times, and there is a whole world of crap that was created as a result. So sit back, click on and enjoy as this week’s column navigates the sub-space perils of some of the strangest moments from Star Wars Merch history. And by Jabba it’s a good one…

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Having just watched The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, I’m in the mood for something slightly more uplifting than watching small children being murdered at the hands of their own fathers in an ironic twist of fate that I may have just spoiled for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it. Ah well, it’s not exactly the most cheery of films anyway, so maybe choose something else from the Pyjama canon of works – perhaps Bananas in Pyjamas or something like that. Anyway, rambling isn’t getting me anywhere, so I’m channeling the spirit of movie merch nostalgia once again to try and cheer the whole ruddy miserable world up. And with that in mind, this week’s cornucopia of merchandising magic comes courtesy of a phenomenal Joker action figure from Sideshow, a set of incredible Art Nouveau posters from a bona fide legend-in-the-making artist and a winning blast from the past from Tiger Electronics…

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Why Jurassic Park you probably didn’t ask? Well, there are two reasons. Firstly, Jurassic Park was one of the first films of my lifetime to acknowledge its own merchandising power and to achieve ridiculously high market saturation in almost every area. There is a scene within the film that typifies that self-awareness: when John Hammond gives his poetic monologue about the flea circus the camera pans and picks out his park merchandise including items that actually made it out on to shelves (including a hidden Making Of book by the authors of the real thing). It may seem cynical now, but that self-referential product placement was like catnip to me and my generation and it made the off-screen versions of the products somehow more invested in the magical exchange of cinema. That was the point where I realized that we weren’t just buying plastic dinosaurs, lunch boxes and bed sheets emblazoned with the cunningly marketable JP logo, we were buying a part of that movie universe. And the second: why not Jurassic Park? The film was phenomenal, and anyone suggesting that they shouldn’t immediately go now and make the fourth installment is a dastardly scoundrel who needs to re-evaluate their status as a film fan. And it should definitely be based on that legendary “Dino-soldiers” script (yes it is the most batshit idea ever, but Machete and Hobo With a Shotgun started off as similar jokes). So, hold tight for a nostalgic trip through the big wooden gates of Jurassic Park…

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Salutations from the seedy underworld of merch collecting, where myths are debunked, the fabrics of the finest secrets unfurled for discerning eyes, and the most glorious curios from lands far and exotic are offered as sacrifices to the Rejects’ lascivious hareem of readers. Well, not really, but that opening was far more poetic and sexy than the truth that I’m a slightly sad obsessive sitting in a Ghostbusters T-shirt and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajama pants trying to convince other grown adults to buy what essentially amount to toys… Anyway, as film nerds (those of us who accept and embrace the term), we live in a world whose chief currency is fantasy, so this week’s offerings to the Merch Hunter Tomb of Essentials are each taken from a franchise that has made an unquantifiably massive impact on escapist cinema-lovers like myself. Read on, shell out and embrace the inner merch-nerd…

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As the whole world (or England at least) goes absolutely Goddamn batshit and falls to pieces in front of my eyes, it’s time to declare an age-old addage, cast forth historically from some of the greatest minds of human history… “And now for something completely different.” Socio-cultural insurrection is a lot like merchandise collecting. It frequent leads to anger, there’s like looting… and like… okay, so it’s not. But aren’t we all glad of that?! I don’t really want to use this column as some kind of soap-box, other than to push the dirty evils of capitalism and commodity acquisition of course, but for God’s sake, we’re all essentially the same bags of bones and gristle. Can’t we all just get along? Anyway, since what we all need on this side of the Atlantic is a little escapism, and maybe a superhero or two, this week’s column features merch picks inspired by both. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but mostly you’ll wish you had remortgaged your home enough times to afford everything.

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Another week, another chance to share the obsession. Edition number 2 of this still brand new Merch Hunter column and I’m already gushing about something relating to Harry Potter – something I do far too frequently as it happens – as well as conveniently bending my own rules. Was never really one for rigid structures and laws and all that anyway. This time out, I discuss the distinction between boxsets and merch, the Disney Heroine effect and attempt to prod an artist through praise to sell out in the interest of my own need to fill my shelves with pretty things. All via the medium of this week’s three essential purchase picks.

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Those who know me well, know I have some problems when it comes to holding on to my money, especially when confronted with delicious, belly-warming movie merchandise. Seriously, it’s a disease – though not one I am actually particularly ashamed of – which hasn’t exactly cost me relationships, but has cost me a lot of respect at least. Over the past ten or so years, since I succumbed to the need to seek out and purchase these pretty treasures, I have spent thousands of pounds (remember I’m a Limey) supplementing my now vast DVD and Blu-ray collection with the best the market has had to offer me. Hundreds of those pounds went to securing (finally) all of the Star Wars Mr. Potato Heads that I foolishly chose to collect only when most of them weren’t bloody well available any more. That’s just how I roll. The idea of this column then is to share my obsession – to point out the greatest in new and legendary merchandise, and to suggest three essential purchases every week for discerning collectors and casual fans alike. Since Comic-Con 2011 has just closed its doors, leaving a vapor trail of teasers and pre-orderable goodies, it’s probably most appropriate this week to offer up three of the coolest items announced at the expo. They’re all improbably expensive, but hey, who needs food when you can have things like this instead…?

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