The original “Star Wars” changed Hollywood forever. The 1977 release from 20th Century Fox redefined “blockbuster” and ushered in a new golden age of science fiction and special effects.
And it’s equally important for how it revolutionized movie merchandizing. Sure, Dick Tracy fans’ fingers turned green from their decoder rings, and Davy Crockett coonskin caps chafed plenty of ears before the ’70s.
But when the “Star Wars” toy juggernaut really took off in 1978 (after Kenner famously missed the boat on delivering merchandise for Christmas 1977), the space opera established itself as a product line as much as a story line. With “The Force Awakens,” that legacy is as strong as ever.
Some of the things you can buy — well, there’s no other way to describe them than kind of weird.
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Online retailer ThinkGeek is your go-to spot for offbeat Jedi-themed swag. In 2009, the site put up a fake listing for a tauntaun sleeping bag as an April Fool’s Day joke.
Tauntauns are the two-legged beasts of burden featured in the opening of 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.” When Han Solo comes across an almost-frozen Luke Skywalker, he uses Luke’s lightsaber to slice the animal open and stuff his friend inside for warmth. So you can see why fans would be anxious for the cheeky way to camp.
The website was inundated with shoppers clamoring for the real thing. So ThinkGeek reached out to Lucasfilm to inquire about a license, and the studio gave the go-ahead to the tongue-in-cheek bag. It can be yours for $149.99.
So when you wake up early for the first-day showing of “The Force Awakens” and crawl out of your tauntaun, you can get ready for the event with a nice hot shower through your R2D2 showerhead ($24.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond). It has three sprays to choose from, naturally. Keep the bathroom clean and dry with a movie logo shower curtain, on sale at the JC Penney website for just $19.99.
Princess Leia would of course do her face with Covergirl’s new “Star Wars” line — just like the product’s spokeswoman, KCK native Janelle Monae.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, there’s no shortage of “Star Wars” temporary tattoos. The big Boba Fett design from Tattify (just $4.99) makes quite a statement across the front of your neck.
Now it’s time to eat. Get your Sith on with your Darth Vader apron ($14.99 at Kohl’s), then slide over to your Han Solo mini-fridge. That’s where you keep produce cold, right? It’s $149.99 at GameStop’s website. Grab some apples and pull out the knives from your X-wing fighter knife block (just $99.99 at ThinkGeek). Of course, you’ll need a laser-engraved wooden Yoda cutting board ($32 from Let’s Engrave on Etsy).
Or maybe you just feel like toast. Make it in Darth Vader’s head ($49.99 at Home Depot).
Feeling handy? If you can’t fix it with the Force, the next best thing is Ducktape brand Star Wars duct tape ($9.49 on Amazon).
Get Fido in on the action. Dress him like an Imperial AT-AT walker with ThinkGeek’s fancy dog costume (on sale for just $14.99). And he’ll need energy, so pour some Star Wars bulk dog treats ($59.99 for 20 pounds at Petco) into his non-tip Vader pet bowl ($25.17 at Home Depot).
Room too dry? Humidify it, R2D2! (He’s $59.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.)
Feeling stressed? Namaste this, Dark Side yoga mat (just $12.49 at ThinkGeek).
Worn out yet? Instagram your tired face with a lightsaber selfie stick ($19.99, ThinkGeek), and treat yourself to some some mail-order Force ice cream. Ample Hills Creamery will send you marshmallow Light Side and dark chocolate Dark Side flavors for $36 per four-pack, plus shipping.
Or better still, how about let’s just go to the movie? There’s a reason for all this madness, so here’s hoping J.J. Abrams recaptured the magic that inspired all the silly swag in the first place.
All products are from the retailers’ websites and may not be available in stores. Availability and prices may change.
Derek Donovan: 816-234-4722, @KCStarPublic