There are tons of shows and movies we loved as kids that we still think back on as wonderful gifts given to us by the gods of entertainment. The thing is though, oftentimes it was more that a company really wanted to sell toys and merchandise to a bunch of kids who didn’t know any better. In the case of these 10 franchises, it really was a moment where companies saw dollar signs.
The entire movie spawned from a series of Nike ads, so it’s probably not a surprise that when Space Jam became a massive hit, the merchandise was coming out in droves. Between all the usual things like shirts, toys, and cups that Warner Bros. themselves put out, there were deals with McDonald’s and Nike that meant the franchise as a whole was raking in millions.
After seeing how huge a money-maker giant robots had been in Japan, Hasbro decided they needed their own giant robot franchise to rake in the millions. The result was Transformers, which is still going strong today. Ever wonder why so many episodes of this show spent time introducing tons of new characters? Yup, so you’d buy the toys of them.
Not to be outdone by Hasbro, Mattel commissioned their own franchise that they could market toys to kids via a cartoon, and MAN did it work. Everybody wanted their favorite He-Man character, and they made sure there were more than enough toys of each of them for us to beg our parents for.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
While originally written by creator Peter Laird as a parody of comic books from the early 80s, as soon as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon hit airwaves, so too did the merchandising. From toys, to shirts, to breakfast cereal, you name it and there was a TMNT version of it.
These next few franchises were basically fast-tracks into our (parents’) wallets…
Much like Transformers (who they even crossed over with, for even more money) G.I. Joe had some of the most marketable characters of all time, and we bought them up whenever we could. Everybody had a favorite.
This one probably isn’t surprising since it’s a movie about toys, but between in-movie advertisements for companies like Mattel and Playskool and their own merchandising deal, the fictional toys from the movie became their own real-life beloved toys.
Mac and Me
An entire movie that’s a low-budget E.T. ripoff, Mac and Me is best-known for two things: 1) Being Paul Rudd’s favorite movie to torment Conan O’Brien with clips of (seriously, look it up), and 2) being almost entirely made as an advertisement for McDonald’s.
This was basically the boy’s equivalent of Polly Pocket, and even though it got a pretty decent TV show, we all knew it was just the company trying to sell more of these tiny little playsets to us… which we bought, because of course we did.
My Little Pony
Again; it’s a show full of all sorts of colorful characters and a cast that’s always getting bigger, because they absolutely needed every single person watching the show to buy as much as they possibly could!
You can 100% bet that Disney is going to do anything they can to market whatever their newest movie is, whether it’s with toys, books, snacks, TV followups etc. I mean, it’s Disney.