by Noel Murray
Though it has the reputation as the more tolerable of the two Batman films directed by Joel Schumacher, Batman Forever embodies the kind of disposable packaging behind mid-’90s blockbusters. Fittingly, so do its toys.
What does a lightsaber-evoking marshmallow dispenser have to do with the final frontier? Not much, but this cheap toy caught the Star Trek franchise in catch-up mode following the triumph of its successor, Star Wars.
View-Master predates computer animation by many years, so rendering one of Pixar’s best-known films seems like an odd choice. Yet the results both highlight the film’s strengths and suggest what 3-D ought to accomplish.
A limited-edition Twinkie embodies Bryan Singer’s attempt to squeeze a lot of X-Men material into a self-contained package.
Gremlins stirred controversy, yet it still got turned into toys. This Colorforms set captures the oddness of the film and its marketing, while doubling as a metaphor for how Joe Dante makes movies.
Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence spun off only one toy, a creepy talking teddy bear that neatly encapsulates the whole unsettling movie.
A Super Mario-esque videogame captures the Blues Brothers’ journey from TV novelties to R&B ambassadors to film stars to product.
In 1976, Jack Kirby created an odd, inimitable adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It didn’t work at all, but it did shed light on what made both creators so remarkable.
Few grown-ups liked The Polar Express in 2004, but it’s since become a holiday staple. For proof, look no further than the nearest Christmas tree.
The album became an all-time bestseller, and for many, a two-LP shorthand for disco itself. It helped define an era, though in some ways, it misrepresented the movie it gave a beat.
Released when most associated Batman with the campy 1960s TV show, 1989’s Batman had to address an image problem from the start. An elegant, imposing take on the hero’s classic logo did the trick.
Featuring cartridges loaded with strips of 8mm films, this once-common toy allowed kids to watch and re-watch—and pause and rewind—little movies. It was especially apt that its titles included excerpts from Disney’s breakthrough animated feature.
A New Hope introduced the culture and ritual surrounding the Stars Wars films, and The Empire Strikes Back capitalized on them.
William Kotzwinkle’s book adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster hits the necessary story beats, but has more fun exploring the gaps between them.