10 to try: Toy movies

In honour of the new Transformers movie, we look back on the shameless examples of kids 'productainment

Masters of the Universe (1987)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
Bratz: The Movie (2007)
Bratz: The Movie (2007)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009)
G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009)
The Care Bears Movie (1985)

The toy: They were just bears with hearts on their stomachs. We didn’t get it then, and we still don’t.

The film: To this day, The Care Bears Movie is one of the highest-grossing films in Canada to also be produced there. Bizarrely, it’s a title it shares with teenage sex comedy Porkys.

Shame Factor: 7/10 – the makers, Hasbro, used it to introduce new lines of bears to the market. Groan.

Transformers (1986)

The toy: Robots, guns and cars, all in one toy. The best spin-off still remains the Transformers chocolate flavoured cereal. Genius.

The film: An incessant stream of metal guitar plays over a nonsensical series of fight scenes. It also proved to be Orson Welles’ final film; by the end, it was rumoured he was so weak that they had to run his voice through a synthesizer to salvage it.

Shame Factor: 4/10 – no one but a tiny, sugar-hyped child could sit through it. Thank goodness for that cereal, then.

Masters of the Universe (1987)

The toy: The steroid-pumped Mattel action figures battled for control over Eternia and took over little boys’ brains throughout the ’80s.

The film: MIT dropout Dolph Lundgren took the role of He-Man; oscar-nominated Frank ‘Frost/Nixon’ Langella played Skeletor. Watch out, too, for an appearance by a young Courtney Cox.

Shame Factor: 4/10 – kitsch and fun; it wasn’t that bad, but we doubt it’s still on Langella and Cox’s CVs.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

The toy: In the mid ’80s, these stickers parodying the popular Caleco Cabbage Patch Dolls (Topps, the makers, were later sued by Caleco) flooded playgrounds. Each sticker featured a doll with some creepy abnormality, or in dire distress, such as Adam Bomb (err... his head exploded).

The film: Whereas the stickers were almost cooly subversive, the film wasn’t. And you didn’t even have the comfort of having the pink bubblegum to chew afterwards.

Shame Factor: 6/10 – great toy, but where was the love?

Super Mario Brothers (1993)

The toy: The long-running Nintendo game franchise has been going since 1985, to the delight of Italian plumbers everywhere.

The film: Interviewed by The Guardian in 2007, Bob Hoskins said: ‘The worst thing I did? Super Mario Bros.’ A costly flop, thanks to a starry cast; the unexpectedly dark tone put off both kids and parents.

Shame Factor: 8/10 – the franchise is still going strong, no thanks to this paltry effort.

Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)

The toy: The brainchild of a Japanese amateur bug catcher turned game designer, it’s ‘Gotta catch ’em all’ catchphrase practically amounted to brainwashing and it’s video game, trading card, TV series ‘synergy’ made rival advertisers weep in envy.

The film: Cheap animation and a nonsensical plot about genetic engineering disappointed, yet it still made US$163 million. That’s a lot of pocket money.

Shame Factor: 10/10 Hang your head in shame, Nintendo.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

The toy: The buxom tomb-cracker has been breaking locks and teenage boys’ hearts since 1996 in the popular video game series.

The film: Angelina Jolie had the right assets and starred alongside real-life father Jon Voight. It was primitive stuff but remains the highest grossing video-game tie-in of all time, making US$300 million.

Shame Factor: 3/10 Teenage boys were satisfied. Who else cared?

Bratz: The Movie (2007)

The toy: These grotesque, botoxed, collagen-stuffed dolls still grimly pout at tweenage girls today. And don’t get us started on Baby Bratz – the fall of civilisation? We think so.

The film: Another outing for Jon ‘I’ll do anything’ Voight, the film is a hymn to shallowness and vapidity. Shame Factor: 9/10 – a Bratz bonfire anyone?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

The toy: Product roll outs for the new range of figures began two months prior to the film’s release.

The film: It was claimed that the clunky animation and marionette look was intentional. In reality, it was cheap and an easy way to market the same characters to kids and collectors. This remains the only Star Wars film not to reach no.1 in the US box office. Justice?

Shame Factor: 8/10 – a cartoon series followed. Let it lie, Mr Lucas.

G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009)

The toy: Originally created in 1964, G.I Joe gave the world the term ‘action figure’ and spawned comics, cartoons and, err, figures.

The film: The original 1987 cartoon only got a limited release after poor box office returns for Hasbro’s Transformers film. This live-action, all-star cast version, including former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, aims to change that.

Shame Factor: 5/10 – a vain attempt to kickstart an old craze. It won’t work.

More from Film & TV

In Bruges director on his latest release and Oscar front-runner

Director Rian Johnson talks about the making of the biggest movie of 2017

The star who plays Aquaman in new flick Justice League spills the beans

Director Denis Villeneuve and the cast of Blade Runner 2049 discuss one
of the most eagerly anticipated films of all time

For years many feared IT would never happen. Now IT is finally here. And IT will scare your socks off. Time to meet your new movie nightmare

Hip horror wunderkind Adam Wingard talks Death Note, the big-budget Netflix remake of a gruesomely clever Japanese manga classic


Follow us