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