The idea of action figures as movie tie-ins dates back to the 1970s and it was mild for some time. That all changed in 1978 when Kenner’s Star Wars figures became the biggest selling toys of all time. Soon, every big-budget action/comic book movie had to have a toy line. This naturally led to the complication of a movie turning into a flop with discounted figures clogging toy shelves. But when a movie is a hit, the line can also be just as great.
Yet scores of toys exist that, quite frankly, make no sense. It’s not just the figures that bear no resemblance to the actors. It’s toys that just seem bizarre. Some can involve weird-looking vehicles that don’t appear in the movies at all. Others have the figures in weird poses. Others are just toys that no one was asking for at all. Here are 20 of the most baffling action movie tie-in toys ever.
20 Willrow Hood
Any list of the dumbest action figure/toys has to include this. In The Empire Strikes Back, the residents of Cloud City are racing to escape as the Empire takes over. One guy races by holding what looks like an ice cream maker. He has literally two seconds of screen time yet somehow fans became obsessed with him. Eventually, the “Ice Cream Guy” got his own name, Willrow Hood, and a background as a miner spy for the Rebellion. Giving this guy his own figure was stretching it even by Star Wars standards.
19 Super Breath Superman
Superman Returns wasn’t as huge a hit as fans hoped but it still did a good job with the Man of Steel. Naturally, there were scores of figures to replicate Brandon Routh and most were pretty good. This was not one of them. The idea of a figure copying Superman’s “super breath” may have sounded fun but it just looked stupid in real life. That’s not to mention the somewhat disturbing jokes one can made over the odd expression which makes this a “super” fail.
18 Bruce Willis, Tears of the Sun
Bruce Willis has starred in scores of hit movies in his time that would lend themselves to action figures. There are several for Die Hard and even Unbreakable and The Fifth Element. But Tears of the Sun? This forgettable 2003 action movie was a box office flop that most totally missed the mark in theaters. There’s nowhere near a cult audience for it worthy of making a perfect replica of Willis. Hudson Hawk deserves an action figure more than this film.
17 Beautiful Medusa Funko
The original Clash of the Titans has arguably the best on-screen Medusa ever. Magnificently stop-motion animated by Ray Harryhausen, she’s a true monster with an appearance that turns others to stone. The 2009 remake has a CGI version that’s a beautiful face with a snake-like body and hair that turns nasty when she unleashes her gaze. For some reason, that’s the version that gets a Funko, emphasizing her beauty more than the monster Medusa should be.
16 Rocky Balboa Meat
This is just... weird. The original Rocky showcases the differences in Rocky and Apollo as the latter uses fancy training equipment to get into shape. Rocky, meanwhile, punches huge slabs of frozen meat at the factory he works at. It’s been used in later movies and showcases how Rocky is so “bare bones” on training. But how many fans were seriously asking for the meat slab to have its very own “figure” pack? That’s carrying recreating the movie way too far.
15 Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino's wild west epic is a dark comedy, an Oscar-winning success, and home to some amazing action sequences. What it doesn’t lend itself well to is having a big action figure line. Let’s be blunt: This is a movie where slavery in the 1860s is a major plot point. The implications of owning action figures for this time period are very troubling and it’s no shock several stores pulled the figures after a huge outcry. Even planning a line based on such a tricky subject matter was in poor taste.
14 Lego Prince of Persia Ostrich Race
Prince of Persia was going to be a big hit but it saw some casting misfires (Jake Gyllenhall as an Arabian prince?) and bad reviews sunk it. Lego still went ahead with some sets that recreated the big action sequences, but they also did one for the odd “Ostrich Race” sequence. It’s a baffling bit that doesn’t make for engaging Lego building. It’s the worst set for a bad movie.
13 Rocky Statue
A few serious boxing fans grouse over how Philadelphia ignores some true boxing legends but has put up a statue of a fictional movie character. The Rocky statue does look good and was even a big plot point in Rocky III, but creating an action figure for it is just stupid. Like a real statue, it can’t be moved at all and the likeness of Sylvester Stallone is off. There’s no “action” in this figure.
12 Human Torch ATV
Granted, more than a few of the “Marvel Hero vehicle” toys can be odd. But this Fantastic Four tie-in makes utterly no sense. The problem, of course, is that the Human Torch can already fly, so he doesn’t need a bike. Even if he did, the vain Johnny Storm would be going for a fancy motorcycle not this three-wheeled mini-jeep. Let’s not get into the issues of a person driving while being on fire.
11 Tomb Raider Terracotta Soldier
Fans can argue the merits of the 2001 Tomb Raider film but few can deny Angelina Jolie made a fantastic Lara Croft. A big sequence has Lara in what looks like a temple, navigating past terracotta statues and fighting a robot. She also fought by them in the 2003 sequel. Instead of the robot or some goons, the company decided to put out one for the statues. It’s just weird as a fan could create their own “special setting” rather than paying for this.
10 Talking Mario
1993’s Super Mario Bros is noted as one of the absolute worst video game movies ever made (which is saying something.) Casting Bob Hoskins as Mario was just a goofy touch and Hoskins himself spent the rest of his life calling this his worst role. Among the merchandise was a large-scale figure of Mario that could repeat catchphrases in a bad imitation of Hoskins’ voice. Given the slews of great Mario merchandise already, this was just unneeded.
9 Hulkey Pokey
In 2008, Marvel was just starting their cinematic universe with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. This version of the Hulk was pushed as the monster, the unbridled side of Bruce Banner who smashes all in his path. So what better tie-in than a Hulk doll with a weird expression that sings and dances? It would be weird for any Hulk, let alone a major attempt to return him to his intimidating roots.
8 Commando Dennis Nedry, Jurassic Park
The entire mess of Jurassic Park is caused by computer geek Nedry sabotaging the systems to steal embryos, allowing the dinosaurs to get loose. He’s played by Wayne Knight and the guy is a total coward. Which makes it so confusing when his action figure not only slims him down by 60 pounds but makes him a tough hunter ready to wrangle the dinos on his own. It doesn’t match the character in any way as he should be good for just dino chow.
7 Real World Neo
There weren’t many toys for The Matrix when it came out as few knew how huge it would be. Having figures for Neo was only a natural as fans would love recreating those epic action sequences. However, one for the “real world” Neo doesn’t work. The point is that the guy lacks all those skills outside the Matrix and just looks lame with no hair and ragged clothing. This is an offbeat figure for the famed franchise.
6 Photon Torpedo Coffin, Star Trek II
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is hailed as arguably the best Trek movie of all time. The key reason is that the grand finale sees Spock sacrificing himself to save the ship. His funeral was a moving event and even the fact that Spock returned didn’t mar it. Yet a version of the photon torpedo coffin, complete with symbols, appears to be pushing it. Trekkies are a dedicated lot but recreating Spock’s funeral is seriously pushing one’s love of a movie.
5 Friar Tuck, Robin Hood
1991’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is best known for Kevin Costner’s come and go accent, Alan Rickman chewing scenery, and the hit “Everything I Do” song. What it’s not known for is Friar Tuck dressing in a thick bearskin and going into battle. It looks ridiculous already but even wilder is that this is blatantly the old Gamorrean Guard figure from Return of the Jedi with a human head on it. No one was desperate to steal this figure.
4 Star Wars Mini Rigs
Kenner hit the jackpot when they got the license for Star Wars and were able to make a fortune off the toys. However, several toys (especially made after the original movies were released) were a bit... weird. The weirdest would be the “min-rigs,” a set of supposed vehicles that looked like they were broken off bits of larger vehicles. You had a weird robot one, a speeder, some treadmill bits, and more. They just looked odd and a reminder of how many “filler” toys the franchise has.
3 Hunger Games Barbie
There’s always been a serious gap between what The Hunger Games is about and how fans see it. Many just love the action and fail to grasp the dark side that the entire plot is about kids forced to battle to the death for the masses. Making a Barbie doll for Katniss is just appalling as the woman is a broken person forced into this nightmare. Instead, we get her looking cute as she walks around with a bow and arrow ready for the runway rather than combat. The fact she looks nothing like Jennifer Lawrence is the least baffling thing about this doll.
2 Bob the Henchman, Batman 1989
The 1989 Batman movie was a turning point for comic book films. It was a huge hit and while merchandising was high, fans mostly enjoyed it for the realistic touches. Naturally, action figures included Batman and the Joker as well as a few others. However, one for Bob, the Joker’s mostly silent henchman, was a bit off. The guy was best known for his blind loyalty to the Joker with the Joker shooting him at the end. One could have figures for plenty of the goons before giving Bob his own.
1 Action Pan
1991’s Hook was a huge film by Steven Spielberg and it benefited from the genius casting of Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan. However, the toy companies appeared to be making some wrong assumptions about what the film was about. Their Pan looked nothing like Williams and instead wears a pirate-like outfit which doesn’t make sense as Pan hates the pirates. It’s the risk that comes when toys are made without actually seeing any movie footage.
Sources: Kotaku, ranker.com, gamesradar.com