"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" is just a couple weeks away and as the movie approaches, Potterphiles are being enticed with an ever-increasing array of tie-in merchandise designed to tempt even the most casual fans. Yes, shelves are being stocked with products like "Harry Potter" action figures, games, toys, poker chips, cigarette cases and condoms as stores try to… as they try to… um...
Wait, what the hell?
Yes, welcome to the wacky world of "Harry Potter" merchandise, where just about every product you can imagine is being produced and tagged with a Harry Potter logo -- whether it's authorized by J.K. Rowling or not.And with "Deathly Hallows" about to re-ignite Pottermania worldwide, retailers are going above and beyond in their quest to cover every possible demographic.
So to help you sort through all the knock-offs, here's our rundown of the weirdest and worst "Potter" merchandise.
• How could we start with anything other than everyone's favorite brand of wizarding prophylactics, "Harry Popper"-brand condoms? We've told you about these before, but for those new to the scene, you won't be surprised to learn that the Swiss manufacturer of these unauthorized jimmy hats is being sued. Ya think?
• Your little wizard is finally ready for his or her first trip on the Hogwarts express and you've made sure they have all the essentials: an owl, a cauldron, some Every Flavor Beans. But did you remember the cigarette case? Well, have no fear, because with this classy Hogwarts Cigarette Case, your kid will be the hippest pre-teen in the smoking lounge. Talk about Death Eaters!
• Nothing says "I love Harry Potter" better than a giant, incredibly creepy Harry head peeking up out of your car's back window. And now you can simultaneously profess your love of "Potter" and terrify other drivers with this awesome window decal. The description says he's waving, but those look suspiciously like devil horns to us.
• No matter what side of the political debate you fall on, fans can always agree on their love of "Harry Potter" -- unless, of course, Harry is endorsing George W. Bush for President. That might split the fanbase. We have a feeling neither Rowling nor Bush approved this particular expression of Pottermania, which now does double duty as a political collectible to boot.
• The only thing better than reading about Harry's adventures is, of course, LARPing them -- LARP, of course, being short for Live Action Role Playing. And what better way to accessorize for the next Ren Faire than by buying this full-size, authentically detailed Slytherin House shield? Because you never know when someone might try to smite you with the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
• Not to get too English Professor on you, but many literary critics have noted that Harry and Voldemort are two sides of the same coin. Well, now they are literally two sides of the same coin thanks to this double-faced poker chip, which is the perfect way to protect your cards from any mystical aggression at the casino. Just remember: When playing poker, which face you turn up may be a tell.
• We don't want you to think that the goofiness is restricted to unauthorized merchandise, though; it certainly isn't, as the Harry Potter Collector Stones prove. The highly polished sheen and cool etchings may momentarily distract you from the fact that this is, quite literally, just a bucket of rocks with a "Potter" logo on it. Next up: an officially licensed pail of water.
• Not content with a bucket of rocks? Well, try on this next ode to corporate non-synergy, the Harry Potter Yarn Sock. It's a bunch of yarn… with a picture of Harry on it. Well, why the hell not.
• And what can you make with your bolt of official "Harry Potter" yarn? How about a Polyjuice Potion Dog Dress? Yes, it's a dress… for your dog… covered with Polyjuice Potion logos. We can almost see what they were thinking here -- like, maybe a wizard used some polyjuice potion to turn into a dog, which explains why the dog is wearing a dress? -- but on the other hand, no. Just no.
• One of the most collectible "Harry Potter" knock-offs, of course, are the legions of unauthorized sequels that have been printed in countries without fully developed copyright laws. We're looking at you, China. 11 Points published a fab guide to the cream of the crop; our choice has to be this book which features Harry taking on a Triceratops with the help of Flick from "A Bug's Life." Just try and pretend you wouldn't buy this book.
• Finally, no list of Harry Potter merchandise would be complete without the vibrating broomstick from Mattel, which was so amazing it was featured in Time Magazine. Just mount the broom, hit the vibrate button and voila, the Nimbus 2000 carried you away to a magic world. Mattel no doubt felt the vibration would help simulate the feeling of flight, but parents and pundits felt it was better at simulating… other feelings… and the toy was discontinued.
Originally published Nov. 4, 2010.
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