I haven't been paying much attention to the many needless remakes of classic films over the last few years. I did give a couple reboots a chance (Star Trek 2009; fun. Star Trek 2013; out of ideas already?), but for the most part the originals are just that... original. You can make the argument that the reboots create a new audience for movies that could use more attention. Ehhhh, maybe. I don't think that film producers enter any of these projects with the desire to honor the past. They want to make a buck now, and it's way easier when you're trading on an idea that was already a proven success.
A movie who's central theme has stubbornly eluded the makers of sequels and upgrades is 1987's RoboCop. I love that movie, and I'm not alone. Fans recently raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter to erect a 10 foot statue of the cyborg in RoboCop's fictional home town of Detroit. I'm still proud of having sneaked myself and a date into the film when we weren't yet quite old enough to see it. The sequel from a few years later was okay, but by RoboCop 3 the concept had been watered down to what felt like Saturday kiddie matinee filler. Robo's third outing was saddled with a PG-13 rating, likely in deference to the youthful audience who had watched the RoboCop cartoons that had run on TV for a number of years. Yes, a cartoon based on an R rated film that no kid should have seen.
In 1994, a live action RoboCop hit first-run syndicated TV. The series actually did come close in later episodes to understanding what made the original film so great. When you strip away the violence and the tech, at its heart RoboCop is a black comedy, a satire on the excesses of the 80s, and a world where high-priced executives are no better than the street thugs they're determined to wipe out.
RoboCop3, the various cartoons, and the TV series meant more tie-in merch on shelves than ever. I can understand an action figure line, model kits, video games, comics. Those all make a kind of sense. But bubbles and bubble bath? An allegorical fantasy about the triumph of human spirit against encroaching technology in a world that had lost its soul... immortalized by bubbles.
The bubble bath is just that. Pry off Robo's head and wash behind your ears. "RoboCop The Series Bubble Buddies" includes scented bubbles (long since evaporated), a bubble wand built into the cap of the bottle, and a "removable pocket pal". That's right. You can pull Robo off (complete with his flamethrower arm) the top of the bottle and stuff it in your pocket. Fun. He's your pal.
There's certain to be another flurry of merchandise around the new RoboCop film set for release in 2014 (A February release too - never a good sign). The trailer doesn't exactly inspire confidence (several shots owe a great debt to Iron Man). I'm certain that we'll have a lot more to say as the release comes closer, and we'll see more and more crazy merchandise hit store shelves. Will the new film inspire gear as low as the original film's bubble bath? Bubble bath?!?!?!