Barbie – And other toys that inspired movies

Barbie, the iconic fashion doll, Introduced in 1959 has captured hearts worldwide with her style, diversity and inclusivity by showcasing dolls of various ethnicities over the years. In 2013, Mattel even released an Irish Barbie doll, celebrating Irish culture with her stunning green attire and Celtic inspired accessories.

This summer, the queen of versatility, Margot Robbie transforms into the iconic doll in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’. To prepare us for the cinematic sensation of seeing the worlds most famous toy brand brought to life we took a dive into our toy cupboard to look at other infamous toy brands that inspired Hollywood films.

Toy Story (1995):

Let’s start with the most famous of all toy movies, one where fictional toys created for a film ended up becoming real toys, while real toys became fictional ones. Two such pre-existing toys in the films are Barbie (from ‘Toy Story 2’ onwards) and Ken (Toy Story 3). Gerwig’s characters have big tiny shoes to fill.

Pixar’s Barbie is voiced by Jodi Benson who brought Ariel to life in ‘The Little Mermaid’, & their Ken is Michael (Batman!) Keaton.

The Lego Movie (2014)

Hard as it might be to believe now, but when people (okay, me) heard that a movie based on Lego was coming out, expectations were not high. But people (okay, I) didn’t reckon on the (everything is) awesome power of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who have since gone on to Oscar winning glory. For its part, ‘The Lego Movie’ is an ingenious, carefully constructed, lovingly assembled master-piece. A worthy inheritor of the Toy Story lego-cy.
I’ll stop now.

The Lego Batman Movie (2017):

This deserves its own special mention, because it so easily could have been just a lazy spin-off. Instead, it’s hilarious, knowing, and affectionately sends up the whole franchise, establishing itself as one of the great (many, many) Batman stories of the past 25 years. And, in Will Arnett’s voice performance, it may have found the definitive Batman?

Masters of the
Universe (1987)

The He-Man action figure was launched in 1982, followed by a hugely successful. Then in 1987 a live action  ‘Masters of the Universe’ film arrived in cinemas & it couldn’t be more ‘80s or more cheesy if it tried. Dolph Lundgren wears very little as Prince Adam, with Frank Langella as Skeletor as well as Courteney Cox in a pre-Monica role.

The Care Bears
Movie (1985):

Have the kids today ever even heard of the Care Bears, what with their Pokemon Patrols & SnapToks? Their pop culture dominance in the 1980s cannot be overstated and this movie was a key text for very many of the decade’s young girls and, erm, boys who were always “a pleasure to have in class”.

Cluedo/Clue (1985)

Critically-dismissed at the time, but since reclaimed as a cult classic, this is a madcap murder mystery based on the famous board-game. What makes it, aside from its admirably deranged energy and doolally multiple endings, is the cast: Tim Curry. Christopher Lloyd. Madeline Kahn. Lesley Ann Warren. They all, for want of a better phrase, kill it.

Transformers (2007)

Another 1980’s toy-line behemoth. This summer see’s the release of  ‘Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts’, which is the 7th instalment in the series that was resurrected by Michael Bay for the Noughties and has made almost $5bn at the global box office so far.

Dungeons & Dragons (2000-23)

The 2000 adaptation of the role-playing game is a real mess, but it’s also guilty pleasure fun (Jeremy Irons goes to town in his role as Profion). For quality, go with the recent ‘D&D: Honour Among Thieves’, which is terrific.

Battleship (2012):

Rihanna using guns. That’s all you need to know.

Trolls (2016)
These big-haired critters were one of the United States’ biggest toy fads of the 1960s. They had a cutsey makeover for the 2016 film from Dreamworks animation. A sequel ‘Trolls Band Together ’ will open in cinemas this year.

GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009)

Launched in the 60’s by Hasbro, G.I. Joe was sold as the “boy” version of Barbie. (Just don’t call him a doll, he was only to be referred to as ‘an action figure). The 2009 movie features Channing Tatum as the lead soldier and Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing…whatever the hell he is doing as the Cobra Commander.

Mars Attacks (1996)

Did you know that Tim Burton’s gloriously camp sci-fi film is based on a 60s set of trading cards? This action comedy’s reputation has grown over the years & it’s just so silly & mad, you can’t not have fun.

Words : Declan Cashin