May 14, 2008

The Best of the Summer Merchandise: Dark Knight, Indy Jones, Sex and the City, Iron Man, and More!

These days, there are movies and there are movies -- blockbusters, tent poles, whatever you want to call them, films that come with collector cups and product tie-ins, cereal boxes and bobbleheads and Happy Meals. They're market events, not just moving pictures up on a screen.

Not that this is new; the old singin' cowboy Roy Rogers had sheets and Daisy rifles when George Lucas was just an Ewok twinkling in his father's eye. And even The Passion of the Christ wasn't above fleecing -- I mean "teaching" -- the faithful with a whole line of pendants and lapel pins shaped like nails (I wish I was joking), not to mention bible covers. Oh, and mugs. But things have gone ridiculously high-end, and a blockbuster's hardly worthy of the name without some man-toy with a mammoth price tag.

Iron Man is already a serious hit, and has the merch to prove it. A 30-pound life-size bust runs $700, and there are three full-size wearable helmets: the Mark I for $375, or the Mark 2 or Mark 3 for $425. So, if you see someone next Halloween with an Iron Man costume that's just a little too good, you know for a fact that he is: a.) rich and b.) probably easily to swindle.

The Dark Knight, the latest in the Batman series, is eying fanboys' wallets, too. Along with the usual statuettes, a set of Batarangs is just $125, and a limited edition Grappling Launcher replica costs $195. Looking at the Hellboy II merch, you see a kind of disturbing trend -- really pricey dress-up toys for grown-ups. A copy of the Samaritan, Hellboy's gun, runs a whopping $400. And that probably wouldn't be complete without a belt and holster to hold it in (includes weathered horseshoe!), for just $200. A two-foot-tall statue of sidekick Abe Sapien is practically a bargain at $300.

Indiana Jones's comeback might just be the biggest movie of the summer, and the official shop backs up the hype. Along with the t-shirts and bobbleheads -- seriously, what's up with those things? -- true fans can drop $250 on a bronze-plated statue of Dr. Jones on a horse. According to the ad copy, it "will only grow more beautiful with age." Sorry kids, limit three per customer (and no shipping to Mexico -- take that, NAFTA!). If you need a set, another $200 gets you the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Indy-on-a-horse statue.

In unofficial, fake merchandise, you can also spend $350 dollars on a handmade replica of Indy's Grail notebook, which is kind of ... crazy. But the priciest trinket is here, a 24-inch high statue that costs TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS, and doesn't look a thing like Harrison Ford.

On the other hand, Speed Racer isn't even trying. Their helmet only costs $34, cheaper than the Speed Racer Ken and Barbie! But don't think it's all boy stuff. Brideshead Revisited probably won't be releasing a line of replica tea cozies, but the Sex and the City shop is selling this "Carrie Balconette Bra" for the low, low price of $94. Fine, you can make fun of guys for wanting to be Batman, but the ladies want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Tomato, tomahto.

Believe it or not, this isn't even a particularly big year for ridiculously priced movie tie-ins. The Lord of the Rings trilogy spawned an unbelievable pile of junk, from High Elven Swords ($300) and Bilbo pipes ($350, seriously!) to this, a 22-karat gold "one ring" -- oxymoron alert -- that can be yours for just $1,200. And just because the Star Wars franchise stopped at six doesn't mean it's not out there earning; a full Darth Vader costume costs $1,000, a Vader watch runs $1,400, and an R2-D2 projector TV with a Millennium Falcon remote control runs $2,995 -- plus, if you can believe it, $9.99 shipping. (Much more disturbing than the price of George Lucas's toys is this: a slave Princess Leia costume for your dog. Oh please click, the image is pure gold.)

But as it turns out, the big player in unnecessary overpriced movie swag? James Bond. A Casino Royale Omega watch runs $3,315, and a lighter inspired by his tuxedo costs $3,360. A set of two lighters, a pair of cuff links, two pens, and a cigar cutter will set you back $6,855. (Well, it does come in a handsome collector box.)

What can I say? Those kids on your block who kept their Star Wars figures attached to the card are all grown up. And apparently they have all kinds of extra cash on their hands.

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