Archive for the 'Krusty Brand Seal of Approval' Category

16
Dec
10

Dead Homer Society Xmas Gift Guide

Homer's Barbershop Quartet6

“Human roaches, feeding off each other’s garbage, the only thing you can’t buy here is dignity.” – Mayor Quimby 

It is the stated position of the Dead Homer Society that the fount of filthy lucre that is crappy Simpsons merchandise is a major reason behind the continued existence of Zombie Simpsons.  Merchandise generates twice as much cash as the television show, and the continued production of new episodes has been explicitly linked by people at FOX to licensing revenue.  And while one person’s purchasing decisions wouldn’t even register as a rounding error on that mountain of money, why buy things that support Zombie Simpsons, especially when they tend to be cheaply manufactured garbage? 

With that in mind, here is the official Dead Homer Society Xmas Gift Guide.  These are all homemade or repurposed Simpsons items that won’t put a penny towards next season’s production budget.  And if you’re wondering if I got all of these by searching Etsy for Simpsons stuff, you would be correct.  All prices are in US Dollars, though most items have non-US/Canada shipping available.  Isn’t this better than clock radios that can’t be plugged in and horribly deformed Krusty dolls?

Art

5 pc Simpson Hand Painted Russian Nesting Doll – $55 – For some reason Bart, not Homer, is the largest one here, but these are actually from the Ukraine so who cares?

Homer Simpson framed original pop art, Neil Jam style – $13 – Homer is staring back at me with his dead eyes:

Neil Jam Homer

Limited edition signed numbered audrey hepburn simpson fine art print – $45 – Time for breakfast at Margie’s:

Audrey Hepburn Marge Simpson

Bags/Wallets

A Homer Simpson Christmas Tree Reusable Bag/ Tote – $7 – Homer stands with a Christmas tree made of Duff on the side of this all purpose reusable bag. 

Homer Simpson Not-so-Handyman – $7 – Another Simpsons bag from the same source as the one above.  This one isn’t Christmas themed, but it would make a nice gift. 

The Simpsons/Groundskeeper Willie Mini Duct Tape Wallet – $7 – A compact wallet that just wants to know if you’ve got any grease. 

Simpsons Trifold Wallet – $12 – This wallet has plenty of space for your membership cards in the Elks, the Masons, the Communists, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and the Stonecutters.

Naughty Bart Simpson drawstring bag for library, toys, sheets, cotton – $9.50 – Nice little Bart Simpson bag. 

Where’s Bart Wristlet – $4 – A small Simpsons zippered pouch. 

Simpsons Coin Purse – $6.50 – That’s right, a purse! 

ipod blackberry itouch cell phone case SIMPSONS – $12 – A small Simpsons case for your small electronic device.

Simpsons Wallet – $22 – From merry old England comes this impressive use of recycled materials:

This wallet is made from recycled Simpsons caramel biscuit packets, encased in a super sturdy vinyl. Lisa, Bart and Homer also feature on the inside.

There are 5 inside pockets made from the same clear vinyl, allowing the features of the wrappers to show through.

Bridal?  Bridal.

Marge & oo Homer SIMPSONS Wedding Cake Topper Simpson 1 – $98 – If you’ve got a wedding cake that needs topping you could do a lot worse.  I don’t think they come to life and have little parties at night, but I could be wrong. 

wedding garter BART SIMPSON bridal set white – $26 – Yep, it’s a Bart Simpson garter.  I would try to catch that so hard.  (Here’s a blue one.) 

Clothing & Such

Bart Simpson inspired Flannel Blanket – $30 – Bart looks like undersea explorer Bart Simpseau here.

Adult size full apron made with vintage Simpsons bed sheet by Kiss Me Designs – $20 – That is a very vintage Simpsons bed sheet alright, and the apron looks great to boot. 

Hand Felted Wool Slippers. Can be made in 2 days. Bar(t) Simpson – $56 – That looks more like Homer in the picture, but I guess you can get whatever you want.  Holy crap do those look warm. 

Stonecutters ID Reel – $9 – I would love to walk into one of those buildings where you need to wear ID at all times with this clipped to my shirt:

Have you always wanted to belong to a secret society? Perhaps one that participates in the failure of both the metric system and the electric car? The Stonecutters might just be for you. Now shhhhut up. It’s a secret.

8 Simpsons Pinback Buttons – $7 – Some classic quotes, though I continue to wonder why people spell Jebus with two “e”s. 

Jewelry

The Simpson’s – Bart Simpson – Guitar Pick Earrings – $2 – Not exactly the height of fashion, but that’s not why you’d wear these, is it?

Donut stud earrings (pink sprinkles) – $20 – Mmmm, earrings. 

Cartoon Skateboard Sk8 Charm Pendant Necklace Skater Chain – $12 – With skateboard lingo, no less:

Cartoon figure and his red and green signature striped skateboard is so sick! A 1.25" metal charm pendant on a chrome-finish silver-tone 23" ballchain necklace.  He is throwing down mad skills on his board!  He’s got on a fierce-cherry-red tshirt and some blue shorts with matching blue hightops.

Kids

Child’s apron and chef’s hat set with utensils – $35 – From Australia comes this Bart Simpson apron and hat for ages 4-10. 

Skater Bart I Spy bag – $15 – A homemade toy for your tiny Simpsons fan in training. 

The Simpsons Oversized Baby or Toddler Bib – $4 – Speaking of children, how about a bib with the whole town of Springfield on it? 

BART SIMPSON KIDS/TRAVEL Pillowcase – $5 – Pretty much what it says. 

Baby Simpsons Shoes – Elastic Fit – $15 – Cute little Simpsons shoes for infants. 

12 Crayon The Simpsons Caddy Roll-Up – Crayon’s Included – $9 – On the go crayon coloring. 

Miscellaneous

Naked Homer Simpson,with added bits – $60 – A standard Simpsons doll, denuded of clothing and given that which man has always had but dolls usually lack.  A little pricy, but just imagine the look on someone’s face when their eyes first alight on Homer’s dong.

The Simpsons – Homer, Smithers, Lenny, Mr. Burns, the Ace of Clubs and the Ace of Hearts Playing Cards Organic Upcycled CAT TOYS with Feathers – $5 – Six cat toys for one low price, and they know their market:

Is your cat sick of all the time you spend watching The Simpsons when you could be feeding or petting him?
Well now your cat can have it his way with these six fun toys!

Superior Intellect (SALE) – $1 – If you’ve got to send out holiday cards, why not quote Kang & Kodos on something done on an old fashioned letter press? 

Choo Choo Choose You 8 x 10 Matted Print – $25 – Tell someone you love them with a Ralph Wiggum quote that will last. 

Simpson Corkboard – $50 – You could hang a lot of D- tests on that.

Custom Itchy & Scratchy Simpsons Coffee Table – $379 – And finally, this thing ain’t cheap, but look at it.  Just look at it:

Itchy & Scratchy Coffee Table

Excellent.

24
Jul
10

Collectable Cookies

Pathologic

“I don’t know why I did it.  I don’t know why I enjoyed it.  And I don’t know why I’ll do it again.” – Bart Simpson

Shitty, unimaginative marketers have long taken advantage of the idea of “collecting”.  The basic premise is simple enough: you create a group of things, and all but dare people to spend money getting them all.  The more they get, the better for you.  It’s simple, easy and profitable; and on some level it even makes sense, e.g. all the players on a Major League roster, or all the main characters from a Star Trek series. 

Not surprisingly, the marketing jackasses behind Simpsons merchandise are big fans of this idea.  For example, should you find yourself at Comic-Con this weekend, you can get an “exclusive” Lard Lad figurine, amongst other FOX intellectual properties.  I see press releases and news posts all the time touting Set X of Characters Y from Company Z.  However, profiting from people’s desire for completeness, exploiting that urge to have the entire set, can cross over from simple exploitation into an unthinking reflex.  If you give a lab rat a treat every time he presses a lever, he’s going to press that fucking lever until his arm falls off. 

It is in that context that one must appreciate this most recent example of Simpsons merchandise.  These are Simpsons cookies.  From the looks of things they appear to be some variety of short bread, no big deal there.  But take a look at the packaging and you’ll see the addict’s word “collect”.  Mini-MagnetIndeed, every package comes with one of thirty(!) “MEGA MAGNETS” “to collect”.  As you can see from the photo at right, at about two inches long there is nothing at all “mega” about them.  In fact, the word “mega” has been so ill applied here that one has to wonder whether or not they are even magnets. 

The urge to conjure something collectable has become borderline pathological for the people behind Simpsons merchandise.  How else can one explain using the cudgel of collectability to sell a few extra packages of a perishable foodstuff?  In different circumstances, this kind of monomaniacal focus would be grounds for psychiatric medical treatment; here, however, we’ll have to content ourselves with a hearty round of pointing and laughing from the internet peanut gallery. 

Ease down, fellas, for your own sake.  I’m sure you have plenty of other tricks up your sleeve when it comes to conning people into thinking a drawing on the package makes something valuable, why not use another one for a change? 

17
Jul
10

Collect the Whole Set!

“Maybe the drawings were a little crude, but all the characters were there: Itchy & Scratchy, Grampa Simpson, and Krusty the Klown.” – Troy McClure

Deviated Septum Krusty Look at this picture of a Krusty stuffed animal (it’s the same one I put on our half assed Twitter feed yesterday).  That has to be among the worst deviated septums in the history of stuffed animals.  His nose is above his eyes!  And let’s be clear, the people in charge of merchandising for FOX can’t blame this on shoddy manufacturing at whatever third world factory slapped this thing together for them.  The mouth and the eye pieces are just way out of proportion to the size of the head.  This is a design problem, an extremely lazy one that someone in a nice office didn’t care enough to fix.

 

Original Krusty That it bears more than a passing resemblance to the intentionally crude Krusty from the “138th Episode Spectacular” is surely coincidental, though no less damning for being so.  I doubt that the people who make this type of stuff even watch the show, much less that they’d either a) be clever enough or b) care enough to have made the connection.  But it can’t be denied.  What was once an exaggerated joke about the show’s cheap beginning has become a sad, polyester reality in its twilight.

Merchandise of this exceeding quality (Krusty: Now with Forehead Nose!) accounts for the vast majority of Simpsons related revenue and profit, and is the main reason Zombie Simpsons continues to exist.

07
Jun
10

Krusty Brand Seal of Approval: Energy Drinks

The Canine Mutiny4

“Wow, Trucker’s Choice.” – Lisa Simpson

One of the basic positions of this blog is that the continuing production of Zombie Simpsons is due primarily to merchandising.  “Simpsons” merchandise generates twice as much revenue as advertising, and with none of the overhead of actually producing the show.  Moreover, the success of merchandising is directly related to how fresh the characters remain in the public mind.  For a similar example, see this recent New York Times article about Warner Brothers’ efforts to get the likes of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck back into the spotlight:

Ask a first grader to identify Bugs Bunny and the response more likely than not will be a blank stare. Dora, sure. Mickey, alive and kicking. But Porky who?

Worried that the low profile of the Looney Tunes cast of characters among children is the start of th-th-th-that’s all folks for the historic cartoon franchise, Warner Brothers is embarking on a five-alarm rescue effort.

There’s no subtlety or shame about what this is about either:

Sales of Looney Tunes merchandise have been sliding for about eight years, but still ring up over $1 billion annually on a global basis via 1,000 licensees. (To compare, Winnie the Pooh generates about $5 billion annually for Disney.) The hope is that “The Looney Tunes Show,” supported by the theatrical shorts, will fuel new product lines.

“We have to invest quite a bit of money in the content first,” said Brad Globe, president of Warner Brothers Consumer Products. “Once there is new content out there, then retailers will become more interested in it.”

They’re producing new content, a television show at $750,000 per episode, with the explicit purpose of selling more branded crap.  (Whether or not it’s a good idea to make a new show for that reason, instead of because someone had a good idea or actually created something, is a whole other discussion.)  The parallels with Zombie Simpsons are obvious.  If/when the show goes off the air, the brand instantly becomes less valuable to News Corp and FOX.

Which brings us to today’s affront to common sense, the Flaming Moe energy drink: Flaming Moe Energy Drink

This is not the first time they’ve made an “energy drink” (which is a misnomer, but nevermind) out of an alcoholic beverage from the show.  Back in 2007, in what I assume was a movie tie-in, there was a Duff energy drink.  Like that, this is mindless, lazy branding at its best.  There’s nothing the least bit special or innovative about this drink, it has nothing to do with the show or with the Flaming Moe.

It’s just a generic energy drink – mostly caffeine, some filler – that happens to have a copyrighted drawing on the can.  And while I am not a connoisseur of energy drinks, my strong suspicion is that this is probably not the world’s finest concoction.  The appeal is strictly cosmetic, it has nothing to do with the actual product.  Presumably the market here is impulse buyers, the curious, and the collectors (can’t forget them).

 

 

 

 

 

To see just how little thought was actually put into this, check out the Amazon product page (red lines added electronically by Channel 6):

Flaming Moe Energy Drink2

Generally, when I read the sentence “Not intended for use by children” I assume that means five-year-olds.  But that’s just me.  Now, I’m not going to get righteous about the fact that they’re selling this to kids.  (Nor do I see how the can is a choking hazard.)  But it’s patently obvious that no one bothered to properly classify this item – or even to proof read the product page.  From the time someone said “Let’s make a Flaming Moe energy drink” right up through the product page going live, no care or thought was put into anything.  It’s also worth noting that this is listed on Amazon under “Toys & Games”.

Shoddy, poorly conceived, and ill executed, things like this are why Zombie Simpsons continues to exist.  Of course, Zombie Simpsons itself is shoddy, poorly conceived, and ill executed, so at least they’re consistent in their apathy towards their work.

09
Mar
10

KBSoA: A Mildly Clever Homer Clock

Homer Clock

I am opposed to most Simpsons merchandise for a number of reason, it tends to be crappy, it tends to be overpriced, it supports the continued existence of Zombie Simpsons.  However, they do occasionally come up with something that is at least a little bit funny.  Behold the Homer clock to the left.  As the clock ticks Homer alternately raises (and eye fucks) either the donut or the beer. 

The photo certainly makes it look like a cheap plastic piece of crap, and the price of $40 seems awfully steep.  But I’ve got to admit, it is at least a decent use of the character. 

Interestingly enough, nowhere at that link does it state whether the clock is battery operated or whether it plugs into the wall.  I don’t buy a lot of clocks, but were I in the market for one I imagine that “How is it powered?” is one of the questions I would ask.  The lack of that kind of basic product information on a page that’s going for an order says a lot about the kind of people who buy this stuff.  They don’t care how (or maybe even if) it works, they just want to have it because it looks like Homer. 

One presumes that, if it does plug into the wall, it gets incredibly hot if you leave it plugged in. 

(via Gadget Review)

24
Feb
10

Crowd-Sourcing eBay Merchandise

Grandpa Wanted Poster Yesterday I came across a wanted poster for Grandpa Simpson for sale on eBay.  As is my custom when I find eBay Simpsons stuff that doesn’t totally suck I linked to it on our pathetic Twitter feed.  I thought most of the text was too small to read (image at right), but then Ryan W. Mead (sometime commenter, Twitter follower, and all around good guy) came through in a series of tweets with the text.  He has better eyes than I do, a better monitor than I do, or both.  Bravo.  Full text is below (it’s pretty amusing):

Abraham Simpson

Height: 5’8 (believes himself to be 6’2).

Age: Unknown (to him).

Weight: 175 (believes himself to weigh 180).

Occupation: burden, annoyance (believes himself to be valuable member of society).

Possible whereabouts: the retirement home, the 1940s.

Possible Accomplices: Jasper.

Possible imaginary accomplices: General Patton, Billy the Kid, Mae West, Jasper’s beard.

Possible motives:  1. May have confused Mr. Burns with a German solider, may have confused his own gun with a surrender flag.

2. Anger at Mr. Burns for causing old age home to collapse, destroying friend’s girly magazines.

3. Angry confusion.

4. Anger at being the butt of cruel and unfair jokes just because of his advanced age.

5. Just because he’s a stupid old fool.

WARNING: Suspect may believe that he is armed and dangerous.

Thanks Ryan! 

(Incidentally, the same seller has some similar items, including a black and white Simpsons Halloween drawing, an old image from Disney’s Pinocchio, and wanted posters for Krusty, Willie, Lisa and Smithers.  $10.00 per may be a bit much, no bids yet.) 

10
Feb
10

What If I Want a Drawing of Part of Marge’s Arm?

“This?  This is a Snagglepuss drawn by Hic Heisler, it is worth something.  This?  This is an arm drawn by nobody.  It is worth nothing.” – Comic Book Guy

I come across a fair number of weird Simpsons stuff on eBay but until this week I had never come across an actual production animation cel from the show.  In fact, I found the concept so ludicrous that I titled a whole post after it just last Saturday.  But this week I found two.  The sale for the first has ended, and it’s a good thing too because some yutz bought it for $128.50:

Animation Cel1

According to the eBay page (scroll way down) it’s from “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” (though there’s lots more stuff going on in the actual scene).  There’s even a certificate circa 1992 to verify its authenticity.  Then there’s this one that’s still for sale, the current bid is a less insane but still high seeming $26.50:

Animation Cel2

As you can see, it’s a little bizarre.  Here’s the explanation from the eBay page:

I’m offering this original Animation Production Cel of Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons. It is 4th season, and from the episode Kamp Krusty. It has been placed over a photo copy of the background drawing from this scene.

That explains why this thing doesn’t quite look how the actual scene looked (in the episode there’s no tent, the fire is going, and there are kids sitting with him). 

I’m certainly no expert on eBay stuff for sale, and for all I know production cels get moved there all the time; it just strikes me as a little odd that two Krusty cels pop up on eBay so close together.  (They’re from different sellers.)  Did someone who once worked at Klasky-Csupo recently clean out their garage or something? 

26
Jan
10

Marketing Horrorshow Coming Soon to a Vagina Near You!

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy3“I want you to hear what Malibu Stacy is telling a generation of little girls.” – Lisa Simpson
“Thinking too much gives you wrinkles.” – Malibu Stacy Doll

Are you female?  Do you like being marketed to by condescending idiots?  If you answered “Yes” to the first question then the people behind Simpsons merchandise couldn’t care less about your answer to the second.  Behold the unironically stereotypical marketing push known as “Ladies of Springfield”.  Fisking time! 

20 years on and The Simpsons is still going strong. We take a look at the Ladies of Springfield licensing drive.

It may be 20 years old, but The Simpsons remains one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises in the world.

“Groundbreaking” in the sense that there’s nothing they won’t merchandise, or “groundbreaking” in the sense that the show has been six feet under for a long time?  I agree with one of those definitions.  This is followed by some “quick facts” which can be summed up as follows, “People still like watching the show.”  Then we get to to the heart of the matter:

With popularity for The Simpsons showing no signs of abating, and a healthy licensing and merchandising programme for the main brand, Fox launched the Ladies of Springfield brand at Brand Licensing Europe in 2008.

I must have missed that presentation at BLE 2008.  Shucks, and I thought I saw everything.

“The initiative was created due to the proven and researched popularity of The Simpsons amongst females of all ages,” explains Jennifer Buchanan, director of European licensing at Fox L&M. “The audience profile of the series shows an almost equal balance of males and females. Fox L&M identified an opportunity to harness the popular appeal of the show and target the female consumer by creating an umbrella brand that brings together the female characters with their own look and feel.”

That translates from Marketspeak roughly as, “Women weren’t buy as much crap as we thought they should so we’re going to cram girly stuff down their throats.  Get me my pink color wheel!” 

A style guide was developed featuring Lisa, Marge and Maggie – as well as the other key female characters such as Patty and Selma – with product launching a year later.

Style guide?  I’m intrigued.  Can I suggest one for the Zombie Simpsons writers?

“Fox has worked closely with licensees to drive the Ladies of Springfield initiative and with their ongoing support we have seen the programme steadily grow across the UK and Europe,” Buchanan continues. “We launched apparel into retail for autumn/winter 2009. This first wave of the brand initiative took us into tween fashion along with support in nightwear. Key retail partners were Bershka, Primark, Bhs, Tesco, George and Next.

This might just be me, but I find the juxtaposition of implicitly martial terminology (“first wave”, “brand initiative”) with “tween fashion” a wee bit telling.  Parents of Europe, we are about to attack your pre-pubescent daughters!  Surrender or be destroyed! 

“Bridging the gap between fashion and sport, a range of female specialist cycling shirts were launched in Evans Cycles.”

“Cycling shirts”, because nothing says “high end specialty fitness” like Patty & Selma.  But it’s about to get so much worse:

The programme will continue to roll out into stationery, soft furnishings and housewares.

Let me consult this copy of “Ladies Home Journal” from 1954.  Yep these are in there.

In 2011, Buchanan says that Fox is aiming to make Marge the ambassador for Mother’s Day – as Homer has become for Father’s Day – as well as driving opportunities for seasonal event POS for Mother’s Day, Valentines and Christmas.

Wait, wait, slow down there.  When did Homer become the “ambassador” for Father’s Day?  For that matter, what the hell does an “ambassador” for a made up holiday do?  Also, I’m pretty sure “POS” in this context is supposed to mean “Points of Sale”.  But it works much better if you use “Pieces of Shit”.  See:

as well as driving opportunities for seasonal event Pieces of Shit for Mother’s Day, Valentines and Christmas.

Not only does that make more sense, but it’s a more accurate description and reads better too. 

The strength of the main character’s personalities, their individual look and imagery are the main drivers of the LOS licensing programme.

They did it again!  This time I’m going with “Lots of Shit” instead of “Ladies of Springfield”. 

Marge, for example, is being positioned as a domestic goddess who keeps the family together, with product being targeted at over 18s. Lisa, meanwhile, is ‘Princess Prodigy” aimed at six to nine year-olds, tween/teens and adults, while Maggie has cute appeal and is aimed at the same demographics as Lisa.

Sadly 1-year-olds cannot make purchasing decisions on their own, so we’re going to target the baby at the same crowd as the 8-year-old.  And “Princess Prodigy”?  That’s an oxymoron.  While I understand the appeal of “princess” style marketing (because it means that your little girl gets to feel important and protected and oh-so-special) it might be useful to point out to her that in real life princesses are inbred dilettantes whose primary role is to serve as a unwilling family brood mare.  Just sayin’. 

Buchanan adds: “Maggie and Lisa both work well on apparel and accessories. Marge is ideal for Mother’s Day opportunities for gift, homewares and social expressions.

Social expressions”?  Like a sign that says “Fuck You And Your Sexist Marketing”? 

In addition, Marge’s recent appearance on the cover of Playboy is not only testament to the brand [it was the first time an animated character has been featured on the front cover], but a big statement for Marge herself. Not only is she a domestic goddess, but she’s a Playboy pin up.

You know what else she is?  A cartoon.  But never mind that, ladies please commence comparing your bodies to a drawing. 

From all accounts we are in the age of the ‘cougar’ and Patty and Selman who “Will Marry for Money” are perfect for humorous product applications to capture this current social trend.”

Okay, “Selman” is probably just a typo.  Even if we set aside the stupidity of the “cougar” as a concept, it’s not exactly Patty & Selma that would spring to mind as examples.  But no fad can go unused, I suppose. 

This year will see the Lots of Shit programme roll out strategically across stationery, bags and homewares, with other categories to follow. International Greetings is due to launch new back to school lines, DNC will have lunch bags and drinkware ranges available from spring, while Character World has developed Maggie duvet sets.

I made one change the quote above.  See if you can spot it.  

Moving on, and Fox L&M is looking to sign new partners in creative play, housewares and gift, as well as developing the healthcare, beauty and jewellery sectors. There will also be a strong focus on Marge for Mother’s Day in 2011.

Now we’re talking.  Let no effeminate product category escape!  Though I must admit I am curious about “creative play”.  Is that like art supplies and card games, or is it more like sex swings and dildos?  And can’t it be both?

“The continued TV support and worldwide recognition of The Simpsons characters is a firm foundation from which to grow the LOS in terms of new product categories, style guides and breadth of appeal and market,” says Buchanan. “Marge, Lisa and Maggie have the potential to be as popular as Homer and Bart, creating a fun male-female brand offering.”

Oh that first sentence is a dagger, “continued TV support”, the true motivation behind Zombie Simpsons.  Though I can’t help but be amused by an ostensibly equality minded goal like “a fun male-female brand offering” being achieved through rapacious exploitation of every conceivable female stereotype this side of a lesbian biker.  

So, where does Buchanan see the Ladies of Springfield in five years time? “Lisa and Maggie will be firmly established as leading girl characters from teens and tweens across key market categories such as toys, electronic, gifting and apparel, while Marge inspired gifting, homewares and greetings ranges will be firm favourites at retail for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Licensing opportunities for secondary characters Patty, Selma and Edna will also have been developed.”

I don’t find any of the above any more or less offensive than the rest of the crappy merchandise FOX has cranked out over the years.  In the end it’s all just more overpriced landfill fodder and I see no point in worrying about it.  But with the exception of the bizarrely out of place “cycling shirts” every single product or category of products mentioned here is as nakedly sexist as you could make it.  Which is not to say that “housewares” and duvet covers are illegitimate, or even that women are less likely to buy them, only that the exclusion of any other kind of product is as unsurprising as it is lazy. 

It’s all the more tragic when it comes to slapping Lisa’s image on these things since she’s as feminist, scientific and skeptical a character as you could ask for.  Where are the Lisa Simpson beach microscopes?  Or the Lisa Simpson saxophone stuff?  Or the Lisa Simpson hockey pads?  Or the Lisa Simpson line of “I like you as a friend, now please leave me alone” merchandise? 

Lisa Simpson is a globally recognized symbol that could, with just the tiniest bit of creativity, be used to market an enormous number of products that don’t often see branding of this type.  But the FOX licensing people have instead chosen to stagger forward and do the same lame old shit that has always been done.  I didn’t really expect anything different, and the show always had a tense relationship with all the crap that it was used to sell, but this is beyond parody.  Or at least it would be if The Simpsons hadn’t viciously parodied it already sixteen fucking years ago. 

21
Jan
10

A “Little” Fail

Misquoted Simpsons MerchandiseThis is a drink tray.  It was officially licensed by FOX.  Someone in a nice office signed off on this.  And yet the simple act of proofreading an eleven word quote, quite possibly the most used quote this side of “D’oh”, was too much quality control to ask.  Of course getting the quote wrong takes away from it.  It’s not as funny when you add the word “little” because it diminishes the otherwise universal scale of the quote.  Shit like this, retailing for a mere £3.99, is the primary reason Zombie Simpsons is still on the air. 

21
Dec
09

Crappy Simpsons Merchandise Comes to the iPhone

There’s a repetitive and unoriginal game for the iPhone which happens to feature the Simpsons.  Here’s the nut of it:

In The Simpsons Arcade, you play as Homer, who is on a quest to chase down a mysterious doughnut which also happens to be host to a USB flash drive that holds some kind of secret information that nearly the entire population of Springfield seems to be in on.

[…]

The gameplay in The Simpsons Arcade isn’t anything to write home about. There are much better arcade-style beat-em-ups on the platform with better animations and more depth such as the recently released OMG Pirates! and other similar games. However, if you’re a fan of the series, The Simpsons Arcade comes with enough Simpsons references between familiar locales and popular characters as bosses that you’ll likely enjoy playing it.

I have not played this game (I don’t even have an iPhone) so I don’t want to pretend to review it.  But it sure sounds like a pedestrian game with a hollow shell of a story that serves no purpose other than as yet another platform to slap with the Simpsons brand.  There’s a YouTube video of gameplay at that link and it isn’t encouraging either. 

Cheap crap like this is why Zombie Simpsons continues to exist.  The boring show maintains the prominence of the brand and the brand makes any boring product more likely to sell no matter how little thought or care went into its construction.  Garbage in, garbage out.

07
Dec
09

Weird Batch of eBay Simpsons Stuff

Oh eBay, you make it so easy for people to sell the most entertainingly oddball stuff.  First up we have this wind up Maggie novelty item that, according to the seller, “WORKS STILL”:

Wind Up eBay Maggie 

Next on the block is this rather frightening looking “walking” Homer robot:

Walking Homer eBay Toy

That thing looks like a cross between Homer and that stupid robot FOX has on during football.  The combination of the distorted, semi-muscled torso with the blank stare and strange grin on the head is really unnerving. 

Finally, how about some novelty Euro notes with Simpsons characters on them?  There’s a 20 Euro note with Maggie, a 200 with Homer, and a few others:

Simpsons Novelty Euros

Note the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval in the lower right hand corners.  That’s how you know it authentic fake money. 

11
Oct
09

How Not to Photoshop Your Crappy Merchandise

Floating Homer Radio

“Ohhh, The Tinkler.  I like the sound of that.” – Homer Simpson

The image at right is for an AM/FM radio in the shape of Homer.  On the product website it is listed as “no longer available”, which is no great loss.  What I’d like to draw your attention to, however, is the remarkably smooth line the “water” makes as it runs along Homer’s torso.  And I mean really, remarkably smooth, as in no variance whatsoever. 

It’s one thing to advertise crappy Simpsons merchandise, lots of links I come across do that.  It’s another to not even bother to photograph it in use but instead paste it into some generic background image of pool water.  This will not make you king or queen of summertime. 

(Found via Geeky Gadgets)

24
Sep
09

Zombie Bart

zombart

Hey look, another relevant t-shirt with a delightful portmanteau for a name: “Zombart.” You can even buy it from Single Second for twenty-eight whole Canadian dollars. Officially, it’s billed as a tribute to “both Zombies and our childhood,” but really it’s another indicator of the public’s increasing awareness of shitty, shitty Zombie Simpsons. We will prevail, DHS readers. Have patience.

16
Sep
09

Serak Is Sad

“Well, if you wanted to make Serak the Preparer cry, mission accomplished.” – Kang
Kang or Kodos

Poor Serak, he never was a headliner.

Do you have $30 dollars you don’t need?  How about $60?  Want a pair of 6-inch Kang and Kodos dolls?  They come out next month, so start saving your pennies.

Here’s the kicker though, they come “blind boxed”, which means you don’t know which one you’re going to get.  Question: if you order two are you guaranteed one of each?  They aren’t officially for sale yet so I couldn’t find an answer on the website.  Are they greedy enough to make you keep ordering?  Do the employees at the warehouse even have a method to identify which is which?

(via theregoesdave)

02
Sep
09

Lisa & Bart Figures

Lifesize Lisa & BartBack at the beginning of the summer we had a post about someone who was trying to sell a life size fiberglass Simpson family (complete with couch!) that was used as a theater-lobby promotion for the movie.  Now there’s a craigslist ad for just Lisa and Bart.  The whole family was going to set you back five grand, but, provided you live somewhere in or around Los Angeles, Bart and Lisa can be yours for just $195 each.

By the way, Bart’s not doing the Bartman there or anything.  When these things were on the couch Bart was watching upside down (click the first link above to see what I mean).  That’s why he’s got that weird pelvic thrust look to him.

26
Jul
09

But Can I Put a Dead Fly in Them?

Homer Ice Cube Trays

Ironically, regular ice cube trays are much more sanitary.

Want to put Homer’s face in your glass and suck on him until he melts?  Well, now you can.  The order link doesn’t seem to work at the moment though, so you’ll have to maintain the impulse buying urge for longer than usual (via).

06
Jul
09

Crappy Merchandise: Cufflinks

None of these is a pink pig's head.  For shame.

None of these is a pink pig's head. For shame.

Do you often think to yourself, “What I really need is a good pair of humorous cufflinks”?  Is there someone you love who may be a great person but whose life is clearly lacking in this critical way?  Fear not, for the Cufflinks Depot is here!  For just $45 American you can purchase one of these fine novelty items, sure to produce that always entertaining mixture of fake gratitude and suppressed disappointment on the face of the recipient.  (And make no mistake, these are gag gift only items, the websites that peddle them all but beg you to use them as gifts.)

Then again, six tenths of a second with Google will point you to 1st Choice Cufflinks, where they’ve got even more crappy Simpsons cufflinks and they only want twenty bucks for a pair.  The ruthless power of on-line capitalism is such that these items, which no sane person would value at more than about six cents, must compete in a ruthless marketplace where markups of several thousand percent must compete with markups of merely several hundred percent.

Hugh Parkfield would never deign to wear any of these.

01
Jul
09

Simpsons Fandom: Ur Doin It Wrong

Homie the Clown1

“So, what do you think of the Lady Krusty Moustache Removal System now, Angelique?” – Johnny Unitas
“It’s Krusteriffic, Johnny Unitas.  But is my upper lip supposed to bleed like this?” – Angelique
“Probably.” – Johnny Unitas

A guy in the UK has what may be the largest collection of crappy Simpsons merchandise on the planet.  According to thisisbristol.co.uk:

A Bristol man believes he has the biggest collection of Simpsons memorabilia in the world.
Glynne Williams has more than 30,000 items linked to the popular cartoon TV series, but they are currently all in his loft in Patchway.
The 42-year-old courier says only close friends and family have seen the collection, but he thinks there is enough interest in the bright yellow characters to open it up to the public.
Over the past 12 years, he’s spent more than £50,000 on the collection.

A Bristol man believes he has the biggest collection of Simpsons memorabilia in the world.

Glynne Williams has more than 30,000 items linked to the popular cartoon TV series, but they are currently all in his loft in Patchway.

The 42-year-old courier says only close friends and family have seen the collection, but he thinks there is enough interest in the bright yellow characters to open it up to the public.

Over the past 12 years, he’s spent more than £50,000 on the collection.

The article goes on to mention asking Guinness about this, apparently the current record holder lives in Australia, but I don’t see it anywhere on their website, even the “collections” page and Google was similarly unhelpful.

Now, some people collect things and while I am not one of them it seems like a relatively harmless hobby so I’ve got no problem with it.  But isn’t this revealing?:

Glynne said: “I wasn’t a huge fan before it all, but I did watch it. Now I have watched every single episode ever made – a couple of times.

“Whenever we go on holiday I pick something up – armbands from Tenerife, a nuclear powerplant lava lamp from Florida.

Setting aside the fact that the mere thought of watching some of the Zombie Simpsons episodes more than once makes my skin crawl, we’re left with a guy who wasn’t much of a fan at first and then got into the show because he was collecting its crap.  His wife collects teddy bears and my sneaking suspicion is that if he weren’t collecting Simpsons stuff he’d be collecting something else.

The great irony here, of course, is that the show on which all this stuff is based hated its own merchandise and frequently made fun of it (and, by extension, the people who buy it).  Oh yeah, and that power plant lava lamp?  It exists:

Posit: You are not a rabid collector.  Question:  Why the fuck would anyone buy this?

WARNING: For compulsive collectors only.

22
Jun
09

Your $5,000 Ass Here

eBay Movie Couch

Via MTV’s Movies Blog comes the mother of all Simpsons merchandise.  If it looks familiar that’s because this is one of the promo pieces that were shipped to theaters for the movie.  I don’t recall the one at my local multiplex having an extra seat next to Homer (there was a rope around it to keep people from breaking it), but what do I know?  It is neither cheap nor small, the eBay description lists it as 12 feet long and weighing in at approximately 400 lbs and the “BuyItNow” price, before shipping, is $5,000.

Somewhat bizarrely, that’s not a television remote Homer is holding.  It’s a disappointingly generic “Candy” box.  It’s neither a product tie-in brand or a fake Simpsons brand, it just says “Candy”.  I could see super-paranoid movie people not wanting to use his more customary Duff can there; putting a beer can (even a fake plastic one) where children might see it could piss of teetotaling morons, after all.  But why not a remote control?  Did a product tie in fall through at the last minute?

08
Jun
09

The Blueprint of the Enemy

“Hey, this is the only paper in America that’s not afraid to tell the truth, that everything is just fine.” – Homer Simpson

There was an article in USA Today last month about the merchandising future of The Simpsons.  It is a fucking horror show for anyone who understands the concept of Zombie Simpsons.  The whole thing is worth reading, but there are a couple of very frightening passages that deserve special attention:

Consumers worldwide spent more than $750 million on Simpsons-related licensed merchandise last year, about half of that coming from the U.S., Fox says.

In addition, advertisers spent $314.8 million last year on the prime-time show on Fox and reruns that local stations air, according to research firm TNS Media Intelligence. That’s down 16.8% vs. 2007.

Holy shit.  It’s one thing to understand on an academic level that merchandising is where the real money is, it’s another to find out that merchandising revenue is more than double the television revenue (including repeats).  If the Simpson clan brings $750 million in non-advertising revenue per year, who cares if new episodes cost $5 million each?   I don’t know how much of that $314.8 million is syndication and how much is first run, but at those kinds of numbers it almost doesn’t matter.

Here’s where it gets worse:

The creative forces behind the show feel the pressure.

“We had a great template in the beginning with really strong characters,” says creator Matt Groening. “Now the struggle is to keep amusing and surprising the audience with stories and characters that they’ve seen for a couple of decades. It’s hard.”

They have to keep the laughs coming. Fox recently renewed The Simpsons for two years, ensuring that it will pass Gunsmoke as television’s longest running prime-time series.

If the show can stay fresh, Fox executives say that their three-pronged strategy can keep the franchise growing.

What that essentially means is that FOX views the continuation of the show as a necessity for the merchandising which generates most of the profits.  And that means that the quality of new episodes is almost irrelevant to them, so long as new shows at least look and sound like The Simpsons nothing else matters.  It’s not as though the writers are going to create some character that will cause the great unwashed to demand new T-shirts.  It’s just going to be more stuff with Homer, Bart, Krusty and Comic Book Guy.  The only thing the actual show needs to do is stay on the air to prevent the brand fading from popular consciousness.

Here is the completely unironic conclusion.  “Dekel” is Elie Dekel, “20th Century Fox’s executive vice president for licensing and merchandising”:

Is there anything that the Simpsons wouldn’t sell? Groening says that he vetoed a proposal to have Simpsons slot machines.

Dekel, though, says he keeps an open mind.

“There were times years ago when we probably would not have done some of the products we’re doing today,” he says. “But society, culture and the marketplace evolve. The sensibilities of the show evolve. So I never say never.”

Yet while he hones his strategy to turn the Simpsons into enduring and marketable pop icons, Groening says it’s important to remember that the show itself has to come first.

“We try to keep the whole Simpsons juggernaut funny and surprising,” he says. “From there, everything rolls out. But very rarely is anything within the show done in a calculated way.”

It’s a 1600 word article and there are only two perfunctory mentions of the quality of the show itself.  Both come from Groening, who is very demonstrably not in charge.  Quite frankly I’m amazed they let him stop the slot machine.  Those things are big money, though the slot demographic tends to skew older so a Simpsons one might not be the biggest draw.

Obviously this is just a newspaper article, it’s not FOX’s master plan for world conquest or anything.  But I think it amply demonstrates where the emphasis is when it comes to Zombie Simpsons.  Much as I like to harp on the low ratings, if I’m FOX I could care less if the show loses 10% of its audience annually.  Even if I don’t make a dime broadcasting new episodes for Season 21 I’m still swimming in money.  For FOX, The Simpsons is a merchandising property that also happens to be a television program.  They have no interest in making the show incisive and clever because doing so would have no real impact on their bottom line.




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