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9 Baffling Movie Merchandise Tie-Ins

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Every summer, movie season collides with merchandising mania to create a perfect storm of licensed nonsense. We, the human race, have proven to Hollywood time and time again that we will empty our pockets for anything with our favorite movie logo hastily slapped on it. But at least most of that junk allows us to momentarily remember why we loved the movie: Thor’s hammer. A Star Wars X-wing toy. Then there are these.

1. James Bond Scented Candle

The James Bond Scented Candle is the triple threat of bad movie marketing:

1. Yes, James Bond has romanced many a lady, but he’s never been the “flowers, box of chocolates and scented candles”-type romancer. Bond’s trysts usually begin with gunplay, and end with a hot tub materializing somewhere nearby.

2. Is James Bond really the most romantic impression you want to make with your wife or girlfriend? Yes, he gets the ladies, but monogamy--not his strong suit.

3. What would a scented candle infused with the essence of James Bond smell like, exactly? My guess: gun powder and testosterone—which sounds awesome for a bachelor pad but not so much for date night.

2. Transformers Toy Shaving Kit

Let’s quickly rattle off everything that makes no sense about the Transformers Shaving Kit:

1. Robots don’t shave.
2. Kids don’t shave.
3. You can’t actually shave with this kit anyway. No blade (thank goodness), so you just pretend to be your favorite Autobot and shave your face like Optimus Prime did in the movie. Oh wait.

3. Matrix Reloaded Phone

The Matrix films take place in a distant future. We don’t know how far in the future, but we do know technology has advanced enough to create underground cities, hover battleships, battle mechs, working holograms, and, of course, a completely realized virtual world. Everything about The Matrix world is high tech. The Matrix phone, however, is quite the opposite. Released in 2003, The Matrix phone did indeed look like Neo’s phone from the movie (or a cheap toy facsimile, anyway). But that’s where its usefulness ended, because The Matrix phone couldn’t take pictures or play MP3s, didn’t have Bluetooth—it was completely barren of any of the cell phone technology of the time. So it’s just a toy, right? At $500, no way. This phone was so backwards technologically, marketers might as well have produced The Matrix Abacus.

4. Twilight Condoms

The entire Twilight series/franchise is basically a heavy-handed PSA for teen abstinence. Edward refuses to deflower Bella until they are properly married and follows a supernaturally strict abstinence policy. So a Twilight condom is in direct opposition to the overarching theme of the series.

Also, vampires don’t need condoms, being dead and all. (Not until book four, anyway.)

5. Dark Vador Burger

Nobody wants to eat a burger with a black bun. Nobody. (And sales of the Dark Vador [sic] burgers attest to that fact.) But there’s a deeper problem: the Dark Vador Burger made by fast food chain Quick (a European Burger King, essentially) was launched to coincide with the premiere of The Phantom Menace. You know, the Star Wars movie in which Darth Vader is still a kid, and a hero at that.

6. The Fight Club Jacket

In a movie that calls out rampant consumerism as a societal ill emasculating and enslaving mankind, it’s a tad odd to squeeze any kind of merchandising from the title, let alone a $165 leather jacket.

7. The Passion of the Christ’s Official Nails Necklace

This is just not a good way to commemorate the suffering of Jesus.

8. The Color Purple Teddy Bear

There is no defending this.

9. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Cereal

Making a Robin Hood cereal in the shape of arrows isn’t a terrible idea, but it isn't a great one, either. And when those arrows look very little like arrows and kids are eating bowls of suggestively-shaped cereal, you have a marketing flop.

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AFP/Getty Images
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History
5 Surprising Facts About the Battle of Dunkirk
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AFP/Getty Images

With the release of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dunkirk, the world’s attention is once again focused on the historic events recounted in the film, when a makeshift fleet of British fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and cargo ships helped save 185,000 British soldiers and 130,000 French soldiers from death or capture by German invaders during the Fall of France in May and June 1940. Here are five surprising facts about those heroic days.

1. THE GERMAN ATTACK WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

By Weper Hermann, 13 German Mobile Assault Unit - Imperial War Museums, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The main reason France collapsed so quickly in 1940 was the element of surprise enjoyed by its German attackers, thanks to General Erich von Manstein, who proposed an invasion route that was widely believed to be impossible. In Manstein’s plan, the main German column of tanks and motorized infantry would force their way through the forests of Ardennes in southeast Belgium and Luxembourg—a thick, hilly woodland which was supposed to be difficult terrain for tanks, requiring at least five days to cross, according to conventional wisdom based on the experience of the First World War. The French and British assumed that little had changed since the previous conflict, but thanks to field studies and updated maps, Manstein and his colleague General Heinz Guderian realized that a new network of narrow, paved roads would allow just enough room for tanks and trucks to squeeze through. As a result the Germans passed through Ardennes into northern France in just two-and-a-half days, threatening to cut off hundreds of thousands of Allied troops, with only one escape route: the sea.

2. ONE FRENCH WORD WAS BURNED INTO WINSTON CHURCHILL’S MEMORY: “AUCUNE.”

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The German invasion of France began on May 10, 1940, the same day Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. By May 14, when he paid his first official visit to Britain’s ally, Holland had capitulated and Paris was preparing for evacuation. But an even worse surprise was in store. In one of the most famous passages of military history, Churchill recounted the moment he learned that the French didn’t have any troops in reserve:

"I then asked ‘Where is the strategic reserve?’ and, breaking into French … ‘Ou est la mass de manoeuvre?’ General Gamelin turned to me and, with a shake of the head and a shrug, replied. ‘Aucune.’ [There is none] … I was dumbfounded. What were we to think of the Great French Army and its highest chief? It had never occurred to me than any commanders … would have left themselves unprovided with a mass of manoeuvre … This was one of the greatest surprises I have had in my life.”

3. HITLER MADE A FATAL MISTAKE.

On May 24, 1940, the Allied troops on the French and Belgian coast had been totally surrounded by powerful German tank columns, rendering them essentially defenseless against the impending German onslaught. And then came a brief reprieve, as the attackers suddenly stopped for 48 hours, allowing the British to dig in and create a defensive perimeter, setting the stage for the evacuation.

For reasons that still aren’t clear, Hitler—over the protests of his own generals and to the bafflement of historians—had ordered Guderian to halt for two days to rest and resupply. It’s true the German troops were worn out after two weeks of fighting, and Hitler may have worried about a repeat of 1914, when exhausted German troops were forced to withdraw at the Marne. He may also have been swayed by Hermann Göring, chief of the German Luftwaffe, who boasted that air power alone could destroy the helpless Allied forces at Dunkirk. Less likely is the speculation that Hitler purposefully “let the Allies go” to appear magnanimous or merciful as a prelude to peace negotiations (which was not really in keeping with his character). In the end we will probably never know why Hitler choked.

4. GERMAN DIVE-BOMBERS WERE EQUIPPED WITH SIRENS TO SPREAD TERROR.

Among many examples of Germany’s evil genius for psychological warfare, one of the most famous was the decision to equip its Ju 87 dive bombers with air-powered sirens that emitted a shrieking, unearthly wail as the plane went into attack. The siren, known as the “Jericho Trumpet,” was intended to spread terror among enemy troops and civilians on the ground—and it worked. To this day the Jericho Trumpet is one of the most recognizable, and terrifying, sounds of war. It was certainly one of the lasting impressions of the Dunkirk evacuation for ordinary troops caught beneath the German bombs. Lieutenant Elliman, a British gunner who was waiting to be evacuated on Malo-les-Bains beach, later recalled the Stukas “diving, zooming, screeching, and wheeling over our heads like a flock of huge infernal seagulls.”

5. THE FRENCH FOUGHT A HOPELESS BATTLE TO COVER THE EVACUATION.

By Saidman (Mr), War Office official photographer — Photograph H 1636 from the Imperial War Museums, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Although Churchill and other Brits were quick to criticize the failure of France’s generals during the Fall of France, many ordinary French soldiers and officers fought bravely and honorably—and one hopeless “last stand” in particular probably helped enable the successful evacuation of Dunkirk.

As British and French troops withdrew to Dunkirk, 40 miles to the southeast French troops in two corps of the French First Army staged a ferocious defense against seven German divisions from May 28 to May 31, 1940, refusing to surrender and mounting several attempts to break out despite being heavily outnumbered (110,000 to 40,000). The valiant French effort, led by General Jean-Baptiste Molinié, helped tie up three German tank divisions under Erwin Rommel, enabling the British Expeditionary Force and the remaining troops of the French First Army to retreat and dig in at Dunkirk, ultimately saving another 100,000 Allied troops.

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Radio Flyer
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Pop Culture
Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
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Radio Flyer

Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

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