Toys and movies: There’s more than meets the eye

Published 9:50 am Friday, October 6, 2017

By Rick Baldwin

Greetings, fellow cinephiles of Winchester!

As I age and watch my three sons grow, I have come to the realization my generation’s films, music and toys were better.

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Today’s toys are cheaply made, inappropriate, overpriced and overall stink.

The reason for this shoddiness is because of their lazy design, concept and overall attention to quality.

Today’s toys do indeed have a lot in common with a majority of mainstream Hollywood releases as both value the scheme of the old quick cash and grab on their consumers.

Unfortunately, quantity over quality is the acceptable mentality to have in the marketplace.

This is nothing new, as Tinseltown and the toy companies have been in cahoots for years with their tie-in merchandising. Do you guys remember “Toy Story” (1995)?

Movie tie-ins became popular with the merchandising phenomenon upon the release of “Star Wars” (1977) and changed the way advertisers, studio execs and fans view the cinema landscape and its relation to toys.

“Star Wars” ruled the 1970s and George Lucas made a killing, not from the movie, but from holding onto the rights for the merchandising.

The studios of the 1970s quickly followed suit with toy-themed fanfare which led us into the 1980s, the decade of excess in everything.

Films and toys with their corporate marriage, were no different. Kids’ bedrooms were packed with toys and their TVs flooded with toy-tied-in programs for Transformers, GoBots, Masters of the Universe, Pound Puppies, Jem and Rainbow Brite.

My favorites were my “G.I. Joe,” “The A-Team,” “Knight Rider,” and “Fall Guy” action figures and play sets. Who wouldn’t be excited about having a Lee Majors stuntman action figure? I wish I still had it and his stunt truck.

It was more fun playing with these toys than watching the dismal “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” (1987) which was based on the popular trading cards. Hallmark and American Greeting Cards even jumped on the bandwagon by developing the product and entertainment lines for the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.

Hollywood saw the opportunity in adapting movies based on board games. A neat concept, but the delivery sunk with the dud, “Battleship” (2012), but found some success with “Ouija” (2014) and its sequel.

The most memorable adaptation was with the release of the campy mystery comedy, “Clue” (1985).

Films have even been produced about nonexistent board games such as “Jumanji” (1995) and “Zathura” (2005). I can’t wait for Parcheesi or “Yahtzee: The Movie.” Monopoly is always a real cinematic possibility in the future.

Since the early 1990s, video game screen adaptations have become another popular “big idea” capitalistic concept for the studios.

Some of the more popular or well-known were the releases of “Super Mario Bros.” (1993), “Mortal Kombat” (1995), “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” (2001), “Resident Evil” (2002) and the doomed, “Doom” (2005).

If you are an old arcade enthusiast like me, you will probably agree that you would rather see films about Dig Dug, Contra and Paperboy. Heck, I would be game to check out Frogger or Q-Bert movies.

This weekend looks like a yawn fest, but if you are interested in checking out toy-related cinema, “My Little Pony: The Movie” is premiering and should not be confused with the same title from 1986.

But, if you are still in a playful mood, word on the street is that the local council of the Knights of Columbus is hosting the Queen of Hearts game this Saturday night at the Rainbow Bingo Hall. This game has a rolling jackpot and the potential from the get-go is $2,500.

That is a lot of greenbacks to help you start a collection of Lee “Colt Seavers” Majors action figures.

All proceeds go towards a charitable cause as the Knights help the needy and less fortunate in and out of Clark County. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Have a fun, FILMtastic day!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook at and at He can be reached at