When I was in college a film professor who had been around the block in Hollywood told a story about “Return of the Jedi” I always found surprising: He claimed that that Ewoks, which became sensation in the 80s, actually existed in toy form before they ever made it to the movie. This is because the producers, realizing after the success of the fist two “Star Wars” movies that merchandising was where the truly big bucks lay, tested toy prototypes of the different characters being considered for “Jedi” in focus grous with kids, and then used the toys that tested best in the actual movie. They reverse-engineered the merchandising.
Two years ago Jason Geyer of Action Figure Insider, who was part of a team making promotional merchandising for “Episode I: Phantom Menace” in the late 90s wrote about rejected concepts that never saw the light of day. From his article it doesn’t sound like Geyer was involved in the same kind of reverse engineering that allegedly spawned the Ewoks. But he does mention having many more ideas rejected than approved.
Now Geyer has updated his story with more rejected promotional ideas, some for the movie’s partnership with Pepsi and some miscellaneous items that never saw the light of day.
For all the pencils, flashlights, watches, night lights, aprons, etc, it’s almost incredible to think that there were any promotional materials “Star Wars” decided not to sell. But Geyer’s new post showcases some hilarious ideas that even marketers as relentless as the ones behind “Star Wars” didn’t go for. A golf bag? Pop-a-shot basketball? What about a Dagobah System pencil sharpener? Matching Jar Jar Binks and Jabba the Hut hand puppets? Actually, the portable R2D2 wet bar looks pretty awesome. I would buy that now—as long as it could project a hologram of Princess Leia. Check out the rest of them here.