Mattel was the “primary target” for MGM’s massive, and very successful, marketing campaign for Clash of the Titans. The film was panned by critics, but ended up the 11th highest grossing feature of 1981. Here’s a snippet from the Schenectady Gazette (August 30, 1980) describing the merchandising, apparently the “most extensive… ever accorded an MGM motion picture.” (There’s also an interesting December 1982 article here about the dangerous business of toy licensing: Mattel’s Clash line is noted as one of the “bargain-basement items.”)
Mattel’s effort on the toys was less than impressive. A second wave may have been planned, but too many major characters were left out initially, and only two creatures were produced (Pegasus and the Kraken—neither was convincing) for what was essentially a creature feature. How did we not get Medusa, who represents the climactic moment of the movie and is arguably Harryhausen‘s magnum opus?
Having said that, whoever designed the packaging belongs in the toy hall of fame. I can still remember those cards hanging on the hooks in toy stores. The unforgettable look did not go unnoticed by Hasbro, whose G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero packages would fashion the bold mix of deep red, orange, and yellow into an explosion surrounding each figure and vehicle.
I’m adding some price tags below, from highest found to lowest found. 25¢ apiece on clearance! The rest of the Clash toys are here.
No coloring, hair, or articulation whatsoever. The wings were rubber and flexed—that’s about it. The color and hair aspects would be rectified when Mattel reused the mold for Arrow, from the Princess of Power line (1985 – 1987). Pegasus also came packaged with Perseus.
The infamous Kraken figure is here, and I’ve since added some new pics of the box. I’ll post photos of the carded figures next week. The only thing special about the line, in my opinion, is the eye-popping packaging.
(Images via eBay and he-man.org)
Crappen would have been a more appropriate name, because the thing actually looks like a turd. If you snapped off the arms and dropped it in a toilet, nobody would know the difference. In fact, the next time you’re hunkered down to do some business, feel free to cry out: Release the Crappen! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
The Clash of the Titans action figures look much better in comparison, though the whole line is forgettable, even compared to other second-tier efforts of the time like Mego’s The Black Hole and Star Trek figures (both from 1979).
You can see all the Clash toys at Plaid Stallions. The line tanked for the same reason all of the other lines tanked: Kenner’s Star Wars franchise was a ravager of allowances, the absolute ruler of wishlists, and it wouldn’t face any serious competition until G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Masters of the Universe crashed the party in 1982.
I’ll be posting the carded figures, and Pegasus, as soon as I gather them all. Mattel did get the packaging right. I love the lurid reds and purples—reminds me of Harryhausen’s breathtaking Medusa scene. The art isn’t bad either.
Side note: Clash of the Titans premiered on June 12, 1981, the same day as Raiders of the Lost Ark. What a summer.
UPDATE (6/20/14): I’m posting exhaustive images of the box below. Notice the price tag in the first photo: $23.49. For comparison, Kenner’s Empire Strikes Back Millennium Falcon retailed for $30 or just under.