Django, NECA and a movie tie in that went bad: Slave Action Figures

Richardglobalheader
220px-Django_Unchained_Poster
NECA, the National Entertainment Collectibles
Association
, is the 800 pound gorilla of adult licensed movie tie-in toys.
  When we talk about the emerging Kidult
market, NECA is one of the major players. They found out the hard way, however, that being a leader
in movies that stretch society’s cultural comfort level can earn you some blow
back. 

NECA, the licensor of Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings and
other action figures seemed to be looking good with its line of Django action
figures.  After all, the movie was hot at
the box office.  Where they went wrong,
however, was not recognizing that, no matter the intent or context, no one is
ready for slave action figures.

A public outcry forced eBay to
ban the products and NECA followed by pulling them.  As an article on “E! Online” (“Django
Unchained
Slave Toys Banned From eBay as Prices Spike Following Public
Outcry
”) put it:

After
getting slammed by everyone from Spike Lee to civil-rights
groups
,
the embattled Quentin
Tarantino

film now has a new foe: eBay. The online auction bigwig has banned the sale of
action figures based on the slave-themed spaghetti Western after its studio discontinued
the toy line

in the wake of public furor, E! News has confirmed.

The movie is up for five Academy Awards including Best
Picture.  It’s interesting that Tarantino
felt it necessary to pull the toy and not the movie;  undoubtedly because they have a whole lot
more invested in that film.  It does make
you wonder, however, if a slave depicted as a doll is somehow more disturbing
than the actual depiction on the big screen…the sometimes discomforting power
of toys.

 

 

3 thoughts

  1. I can see both sides, as Django came out close with 12 years a slave i was in no rush to see either. I finally saw Django and it is more a spaghetti southern than a slave picture. slavery is a sore spot in the states and racism is not a easy issue to discuss. people felt toys were making light of a serious issue but it really was only a tie in, looking back i can see how silly it was.
    but i believe they make gone with the wind toys somewhere isnt that just as bad.?

  2. I’m not sure that the outcry towards NECA’s Django products was warranted. I’m also not entirely sure it was genuine.
    Spike Lee and other critics have painted Django Unchained as a racist attack on black history. The NECA toys are just a footnote in this polarizing debate – Does Tarantino’s film capably capture the plight of slaves or is it violent, racist, stereotype-driven trash? More critics would argue that Django is among Tarantino’s best work and utilizes sometimes-comical violence and knowing parody to tell a truly emotional story of one former slave’s heroism. Everyone’s welcome to their opinion.
    Regarding the NECA toys, the outcry is the result of outside media and critics’ lack of understanding of the toy marketplace. The NECA figurines are intended for adult collectors interested in possessing physical avatars of characters they find representative (in some way) of their personalities. The heroes and villains of Django are just as worthy of avatar representation as any other hero. These are NOT intended as the playthings of children. They are not products even available at mass market retail. NECA mostly finds distribution via comic book stores and collector-oriented toy shops. Some people will be offended by Django toys, but those same people were offended by the movie, which others consider a tremendous hit and a critical milestone for an important American director.
    Moreover, I think Ebay’s reaction to the sale of Django action figures on their website shows the hypocrisy of such entities. Right now, on Ebay, a quick “Lawn Jockey” search yielded a multitude of racist stereotypes considered “collectables”. The lawn jockey is a piece of American history, but it’s also an upsetting image for many people. But, like Django, the lawn jockey has its roots in heroism: the story of The Faithful Groomsman.
    I just sometimes wonder if we’re just trying to be offended without looking at the whole of a situation.

  3. I can still remember the day years ago when a lady called us up at The Pattycake Doll Company and asked if we had any Black American Girl® dolls. We answered that no, American Girl was exclusive to themselves, but that they were beautiful dolls and why didn’t she just get her daughter Addy?
    Her response? “I don’t want to buy a slave child doll for my daughter!”
    (We now carry a full range of 18″ dolls for children of color. ☺)

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