President’s Day is just around the corner, and while I don’t actually get the day off to go and buy a cheap mattress or whatever, there are plenty of ways we can celebrate it in our own way. Specifically, let us all be thankful that, despite living in a country where people can figure out ways to make a buck out of anything, our leaders’ likenesses are in the public domain. Which means the sky’s the limit when it comes to merchandising.
A stoner roommate of mine once had a theory that the toy companies killed JFK so they’d make more money off of his likeness. I suppose it’s no worse a theory than some.
Presidents inspire bumper stickers, T-shirt and even action figures, often ones that speak famous phrases like “Four score and seven years ago” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” But in more recent years, a new crop have sprung up that give our commanders-in-chief a nerdier spin, be it with scene-specific details or the addition of fantasy elements. Partisan issues aside, I think we all know what cool toys look like.
Hail to these chiefly collectibles.
5. Jedi Barack Obama
Obama may be in the public domain, but Jedi aren’t – still, by not using the J-word or the SW-pairing, this figure narrowly skirts copyright laws and implicitly compares the president to Samuel L. Jackson by giving him the same color of lightsaber. Following the popular Dick Cheney-as-Darth Vader jokes, envisioning Obama as “A New Hope” made for this no-brainer of a mash-up. It’s too bad there isn’t an actual Cheney Vader toy for him to battle against, presumably because toymakers are genuinely terrified of the ex-veep.
Swinging a saber is cool, but I’m betting the real Obama would like a different Jedi perk – the ability to just wave his hand and say “You don’t need to see the details of this bill.” But this figure actually feels appropriate in a government setting – with year after year of the same old same old, it really does feel like an Attack of the Clones sometimes.
4. George W. Bush in Flight Suit
Though the moment in time this figure re-enacts has become less than glorious in hindsight, with the younger Bush declaring victory in the initial Iraq battle in front of an ill-advised “Mission Accomplished” banner, let’s look at the event from a nerd-out perspective. If you were president, and had the opportunity to fly in a fighter jet onto an aircraft carrier, would you turn it down? And if someone made an insanely detailed toy replica of you in that aviator gear, would it not be the coolest thing ever?
BBI probably overestimated the demand for this figure, unless they were also counting on detractors switching out the outfits for those of a Ken doll or something. But I would bet that the man himself geeks out big-time whenever he looks at it.
Four sore and severed gears ago, one mad scientist brought forth an undead president, conceived in satire, and dedicated to the proposition that even the most revered figures in history can be turned into creepy undead things, then repackaged as toys. Perhaps because Lincoln died in a theater, it makes sense to bring him back as theatrically undead. Not to be confused with actor Andrew Lincoln, who fights The Walking Dead.
2. Killer Robot George Washington
From the upcoming BioShock Infinite, it’s like the Hall of Presidents in Itchy & Scratchy Land just got real, real fast. Dubbed “Motorized Patriot,” this upcoming toy from NECA cannot tell a lie – it wants to blow the shit out of every goddamn thing in the room. While our first president turned down a third term in office because he believed such things should be temporary, we can easily imagine this one saying “I’ll be back.” That cherry tree isn’t the only thing getting cut down in his hail of bullets, and it won’t just be the coats of his enemies that are a deep red by the end of it all.
1. Richard Nixon’s Head.
He resigned in disgrace, but he’s coming back in the future alongside doofus pilot Zapp Brannigan, who’s incapable of feeling disgraced about anything. The most literal head of state on the list, Futurama’s Nixon continues to prove that in animated form, Richard Milhous is still worth recording. Feel free to kick this toy around – if you do it with a presidential figure, it’s not illegal.