Mr. Potato Head owes his life to Toy Story. Without his coveted lifetime spot in the Franchise, it’d be difficult for you to find these things anywhere but the bottom of a dirty toy barrel at your local Salvation Army (the one you used to go to for cheap, ironic t-shirts when you were young and didn’t know any better). He had that spot though, and Mr. Potato Head (along with his lovely wife) has taking advantage of every second of the spotlight since.
At first, it was innocent, like every fledgling toy franchise is. It started out with just the male version of the doll, but quickly diversified to add a female, probably due to sheer demand… not very different from the story of Pac-Man and his girl… even Adam and his woman, Eve, much longer ago. A man eventually needs a wife, after all. And it was good.
Smart companies know when their franchise has reached its peak, and know when to stop. Mr. Potato Head had a chance to do this, especially after the popularity of Toy Story. It didn’t really need to change its recipe ever again. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head could meet and fall in love over and over again in children’s rooms all over the world for eternity, and everyone would be happy. Unfortunately, Hasbro got greedy, and decided to turn popular franchises into Potato Heads, creating the grotesque, unidentifiable “creatures” you’re about to see.
1. The Star Wars Potato Head Doll
If I didn’t tell you this was a character from the long-running, beloved ‘Star Wars’ franchise, I’d challenge even the greatest of Star Wars fans to be able to identify this disaster… and I’d throw a lot of money on the table for the person who could do it. Even if I did tell you that this was a Star Wars character, many would still have difficulty. I see a big smile, pretty dark skin (even for a potato), a decent-sized blaster, a long, manly cape, and some kind of strange, poorly designed, unidentifiable utility belt. Huh. Uh… Lando Calrissian I guess?
Nope… we’re looking at Princess Leia. Now, I never thought Carrie Fisher was particularly attractive, but this is an insult. When the only thing you can get right is the shape the actor’s hair (not even the color), you need to take a step back and really think about the following question: If we realistically cannot make this look anything like the real person, should we still go on and make hundreds of thousands of them? My guess is… probably not. Star Wars fanatics have standards, too… just like normal people.
2. The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Potato Head Doll
When you’re planting one of your new Potato Head Dolls on the foundations of a franchise that decided to fast-track a sequel and sacrifice literally everything to get it out early (literally everything… acting, storyline, special effects, continuity), you never really had much of a shot in the first place. Still, stranger things have happened, and it could have maybe been successful. But not this time. Riding the coattails of a doomed movie franchise, the intelligent folks at Mr. Potato Head decided to turn ‘Bumble Bee’ into a Potato Head Doll, to horrifying effect:
Think back to a Halloween you may have had as a child… a Halloween you were extremely ill-prepared for. It was Halloween day, you hadn’t made a costume yet, and all of the stores were sold out of costumes in your size. There were only two hours to go until prime trick or treating time, and you were desperate. So you went into the basement, scoured through old, moldy boxes of broken glass, torn clothing and old Tupperware containers, and you put together a Halloween costume with what you found.
Chances are, it turned out looking like “Bumble Spud” up there. And it was the worst Halloween of all time. Most of the houses probably didn’t even give you candy, because they were too embarrassed of your weak attempt at a franchise costume to even open the door. Mr. Potato Head recreates that awful Halloween for us with “Bumble Spud,” the most disappointing thing any child will receive this Christmas. It’s biggest virtue, perhaps, is that it looks nothing like the Transformers in Revenge of the Fallen. You’d garner even less respect if anyone knew you bought a toy celebrating one of the worst franchise sequels in cinematic history.
3. The Toy Story Potato Head Doll
I know what you’re thinking… “whoa, wait, you’re gonna make fun of Toy Story Mr. Potato Head Doll?!” Don’t worry, friends. I respect the Toy Story Mr. Potato Head more than I respect a lot of human people in this world. What the folks at Hasbro have done in this final segment stands among the greediest things anyone at any company has ever done. Even the good, honest people from Enron would shuffle uncomfortably on their jail cell benches at the sheer amount of greed Hasbro displayed with their newest Potato Head:
Woody. Apparently, having two of the most popular, classic, and nostalgic versions of the Potato Head franchise in your movie isn’t enough. Hasbro wanted to see how much money they could squeeze from Toy Story fans by changing its most popular character into a Potato Head… It really doesn’t get more cocky than this.
I’m not saying that this doesn’t look like Woody. Any self-respecting Toy Story fan would recognize him instantly. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Hasbro is willing to disrespect Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head this much to make a little extra money. Hasbro’s basically coming out and telling Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, “I’m sorry, classic, traditional potato heads that were so funny and awesome in the movie: you’re not enough for us. There are bigger fish in the Toy Story ocean… and we can make more money from them than from you… even if we use your bodies to do it.”
Hasbro, shame on you. Parents: don’t buy your kids these embarrassing, and sometimes even greedy, versions of the potato head dolls. Chances are, your kids won’t even know what they are anyway. Stick to tradition. It’s timeless for a reason.