Part of what has helped Star Wars become such a dominating force in pop culture is its branding and merchandising, allowing fans to proudly display their fandom with any manner of interesting items. What makes the franchise's dominance over the world of merchandising so much more interesting is knowing how little foresight the studio had about licensed products, producing very few items, only for the first film to completely explode, creating a huge disconnect in supply and demand.
Famously, during the 1977 holiday season, action figures became one of the most highly demanded items for fans, with no figures actually available for purchase. Instead, consumers were offered the opportunity to buy empty boxes that served as a pre-order for the figures' eventual release, leading to quite a few disappointing Christmas mornings.
Celebrating his birthday today is Steve Sansweet, CEO and President of Rancho Obi-Wan, an organization that houses more than 300,000 different Star Wars items, making it the largest collection of the saga's memorabilia in the world.
In honor of Sansweet's passion to track down some of the most unique and rare Star Wars items in existence, check out some items you'll have a hard time believing actually exist!
Jar Jar Tongue Candy
Possibly the most infamous Star Wars piece of merchandise based on one of the least-liked characters in the whole franchise, there was a point in time where a consumer products team thought, "Ya know what? Not only will audiences love this character, they'll also want to pretend that character has a delicious tasting tongue that they'll want to stick in their own mouths."
Granted, the reason for the tasty tongue stems from the scene in which Jar Jar uses his tongue to eat food while in the Skywalker homestead, only for Qui-Gon Jinn to grab his tongue to get him to stop. Despite how bizarre this candy is, it at least makes more sense to be Jar Jar than if we had to eat Boss Nass or Darth Maul's candy tongue.
Incorporating novelty candies into the marketing for a film is a pretty standard strategy, but this was just a weird combination.prevnext
C-3PO Tape Dispenser
When hoping to make up for the lack of merchandise when the original film came out, it appears as though to marketing team wanted to correct that mistake with the release of The Empire Strikes Back, flooding the market with virtually any item you could think of with Star Wars branding.
On paper, "Star Wars Tape Dispenser" doesn't necessarily sound like a bizarre product, despite it definitely sounding boring. However, what makes the product so bizarre is that you pull the tape from between C-3PO's legs as he looks on with an expression that's a combination of bewildered and euphoric.
This ceramic dispenser is a highly sought after collectible which you'd be lucky to find on eBay, now valued at nearly $400.prevnext
Prior to the prequels, the world of Star Wars didn't often showcase vast expanses of water, as Tattooine was known for its lack of water, with Hoth most likely only having frozen water, and with Dagobah being more of a swamp than a place with oceans and lakes.
Additionally, the connection between "droids" and "water" isn't particularly a strong one, as one would imagine water having a pretty detrimental impact on sophisticated technology. That didn't stop the powers that be from turning R2-D2 into an aquarium, however, resulting in this household product.
If you love Star Wars and want to buy an aquarium, we wouldn't fault you for purchasing this item, but with Gungans living underwater or Kamino being a planet full of water, we'd hoped there'd be a stronger connection in the Star Wars theme than just, "Well, I guess you can put fish and water inside R2-D2?"prevnext
Monster Star Wars Bobble-Heads
Sadly, one of the most popular trends in fan merchandise over the years would be mash-ups, in which two unrelated fandoms collide to form an all-new product that references particular elements of each fandom. More often than not, this results in unlicensed t-shirts with characters from one franchise dressed up like a character from another franchise which you'll see at any number of fan conventions.
Another result of mash-ups, however, would be the Monster Star Wars Bobble-Heads. It's unclear exactly what the thought process behind these figures could have been, as they feature iconic Star Wars characters interpreted in a style of monsters, like crossing a werewolf with Chewbacca and Frankenstein's Monster with Darth Vader.
Bobble-Heads are already stylized versions of characters as it is, so the choice to combine those characters with something so far detached from the Star Wars lore is beyond us.prevnext
As we mentioned earlier in the list with the Jar Jar candy tongue, having a fast food tie-in or novelty food creation is no big surprise for a mega-budget blockbuster, but some of the tie-ins for Star Wars were a little stranger.
Considering how easy it is to create a generic cereal that features a combination of marshmallows and specifically shaped oats, Star Wars went beyond specialty cereals, creating bags of oranges with BB-8's image on the packaging, grapes that honor Yoda with its packaging, and a wide variety of soups.
Another bizarre food tie-in was the recent wave of flavored coffee creamers, whose labels touted that they were "limited edition," making sure you didn't grow accustomed to pouring hazelnut creamer out of C-3PO's head and into your coffee.prevnext
Pre-packaged foods that have your favorite characters' image on the box is child's play, as the popularity of the Star Wars brand has allowed the marketing teams to get more creative.
Do you love waffles? Do you enjoy waffles that are circular? Well, you're in luck, because you can purchase a waffle iron that is shaped similarly to the Death Star, so when you pour maple syrup on your waffles, you can pretend it's just the liquefied Red Squadron penetrating the trenches.
Do you like toast? Are you sick of eating toast that is just varying shades of brown because it's boring to look at? Lucky for you, toasters are available for purchase that, in addition to toasting your bread, will burn the image of Darth Vader onto your toast, so you can pretend you are chomping on his remains that you discovered on Endor.prevnext
One of the things Wookiees are most known for is their thick coats of fur which make you want to do nothing more than give them a big hug. There's no shortage of fuzzy products out there that let you pretend you're a Wookiee, including sweaters, hoodies, pajamas, and slippers.
The shoe brand Crocs, however, seem to have missed the point entirely about why we love Wookiees and also what makes the brand's shoes so special.
The footwear of choice for people who work in kitchens or are on vactions, Crocs are rubberized sandals that allow water to quickly exit out of the sandals' sides, easily transitioning from a walk on the beach to walking into a home. Their special Wookiee Crocs, on the other hand, are lined with brown fur, which means one drop of water, or sweat, will be captured inside forever. Additionally, the shoes themselves aren't covered with fur so they don't even make the wearer look like they've had their feet transplanted with a Wookiee's.
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