Action figures promoting an action movie are a pretty basic merchandizing technique, particularly when you’re Quentin Tarantino. The director has had such collectible tie-ins made for each of his films, according to the Associated Press. But recent uproar over Tarantino’s Django Unchained toys shows that the basics don’t always work.
The Django edition of those toys may have been intended somewhat ironically—yes, Django has action-movie qualities, but the bloody take on slavery is no Transformers—but if the people behind the toys had thought things through a little more, the irony might have taken on another level: it’s not hard to see why somebody might be offended that eight-inch versions of the movie’s enslaved characters are available for purchase for $39.99. (Non-slave characters are also available as action figures.) Those offended people included Rev. Al Sharpton, who called for a boycott of the set of character dolls, according to the New York Daily News.
So, on Jan. 18, The Weinstein Company, the studio behind the film, changed course and told the public that the toys would no longer be distributed. “In light of the reaction to the Django Unchained action figures we are removing them from distribution. We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone,” said the studio in a statement, according to Deadline.
The move, unsurprisingly, has only served to boost the value of the now-rare items. As of the afternoon of Jan. 22, a collectible 10-piece set of the figures was available on eBay with an asking price of $8,000, which is actually a pretty good deal. The same set was available on Amazon.com for $19,999.99—a whopping 500 times more than the MSRP, leading to a different brand of outrage. Quips one collector: “I’m offended…by the PRICE.”