What kid hasn’t, at some point at least, written a holiday wish list topped with that one special gift that they just had to have? Often inspiration comes from our screens big and small – a favourite show, a TV commercial, and sometimes a movie. Hollywood has made many films featuring toys that seem too good to be true… and in some cases, they are!

Join us as we look at fictional toys from the silver screen – some of which were made up for film storylines, only to become sought after items in real life! We also see which ones actually made it to shelves, and which remained in the realm of make-believe…

Buzz Lightyear (The Toy Story Series, 1995)

The ultimate movie toy. One of the most iconic characters in animation history, Buzz’s oblivious heroism has made him a playground legend for nearly 30 years.

Did it become a reality? Very much so. The Space Ranger became a popular toy in the mid-’90s following the success of the Pixar classic, so much so that there was a shortage, and the original Buzz became a rare item (something that’s joked about in Toy Story 2). Buzz and all the Toy Story characters remain popular items to this day – as to whether they come to life when no one is looking, who’s to say??

The OASIS (Ready Player One, 2018)

Imagine you could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything? That’s the appeal of the OASIS, the virtual reality programme at the centre of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s eponymous novel. Players can outrun dinosaurs while driving a car from a famous movie, all while controlling an avatar of their choosing. The possibilities are endless!

Did it become a reality? Sadly not. While that kind of freedom is still the dream for VR developers, attempts to make something close to the experience of OASIS remain ongoing.

Giant Keyboard (Big, 1988)

Tom Hanks made movie history when he played a song on a giant floor keyboard in the charming ‘80s comedy Big. In the role of a young boy who had transformed into an adult body, Hanks’s character wins over his boss with his childlike enthusiasm for the musical installation in the middle of a toy store.

Did it become a reality? While a version of the keyboard had existed before, a unique three octave piano was specially created for the film. It inspired numerous copycats, and while a replica would probably be too expensive for most playrooms, smaller toy versions are fairly commonplace!

Jumanji (The Jumanji Series, 1995 – Present)

Everybody loves a two-for-one deal! Jumanji started life as a fictitious board game in the ‘90s Robin Williams adventure. When it was rebooted for a new generation, it morphed into a video game console. However, both served as a portal to and from the mysterious land of Jumanji, where the game suddenly becomes a lot more treacherous!

Did it become a reality? As far as we know, it’s still not possible to travel to a land of magical creatures and strange abilities. However, a physical board game and video game have been made for both the 1990s and contemporary versions of the story. While the board game is more of an aesthetic pleasure, the video game offers the chance to control the characters of the movie and survive a digital version of Jumanji. 

Fix-It Felix, Jr (Wreck-It Ralph, 2012)

Despite the title, Wreck-It Ralph was not the hero of his own game. Instead, he was the villain of Fix-It Felix Jr, a fictional Donkey Kong-style game that pays tribute to the arcade classics that paved the way for the video games of today. It was so detailed and accurate, many fans wondered if it was based on a real game!

Did it become a reality? Originally, an arcade cabinet was created to promote the film, with a working version of the game. However, a full game became a reality when Fix-It Felix Jr was released on mobile platforms. It was a big hit, and playable versions of other games from the film were released as well.

Hoverboard (Back to the Future Part II, 1989)

Several ‘future products’ caught the eye of viewers in Back to the Future Part II’s vision of 2015. For kids, the outright winner was the Mattel Hoverboard, a floating skateboard that Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) borrows to escape the bad guys.

Did it become a reality? Yes and no. You can buy a replica from most memorabilia stores, and one of the original boards just sold at auction for over USD 500,000. The catch? So far, none of them hover. Like flying cars and dehydrated pizzas, technology hasn’t quite caught up with fantasy.

BB-8 (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015)

While more of an assistant than a plaything, few who went to see the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga could resist this cheeky spherical robot who immediately joined the ranks of R2D2 and C3PO as the franchise’s most beloved sidekicks.

Did it become a reality? Fans went crazy when a ‘real’ app-controlled version of the android was released, programmable to take instructions and display autonomous behaviour. It was a lot smaller than the movie version, but enough to feel like you had a futuristic robot pal!

Turbo Man (Jingle All the Way, 1996)

It’s the toy that everyone wants in the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy about a dad who leaves it too late to get his son that one special gift. Those who grew up on the film will have their own nostalgic feelings about Turbo Man, who was partly inspired by the rush for Buzz Lightyear toys a year before the film’s release. It’s hard to disagree, as the toy does look pretty cool.

Did it become a reality? While it was never mass-produced for toy stores, collector’s editions of the toy have been released, in appropriately limited amounts that make them very desirable! You can also get a Funko Pop! version of the toy.

Fluffy Unicorn (Despicable Me, 2010)

“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna DIE!” screamed young Edith (voiced by Elsie Fisher) in the first Despicable Me film, as she walked away from a fairground with a fluffy stuffed unicorn. The scene and the unicorn became a favourite with fans who related to her childlike joy.

Did it become a reality? Yes, and you don’t need to win at a fairground to get it! The odd-looking unicorn with its tongue hanging out can be seen on lunchboxes, backpacks and, of course, the original stuffed toy, so fans can declare their own happiness!

Wilson the Volleyball (Castaway, 2000)

Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks drama will remember the heartbreaking moment when his character, Chuck, lost his only friend on a deserted island, a volleyball called Wilson (named after the manufacturer). The ‘character’ proved to be one of the most quoted and adored aspects of the film, inspired by the experience of a screenwriter who had isolated himself on a beach and a volleyball washed ashore.

Did it become a reality? Wilson produced an imitation volleyball complete with handprint ‘face’ to promote the film, and it continues to be available 21 years after its release. Unlike some of the toys mentioned here, it truly can do everything it does in the film!

LEGO Batman (The LEGO Movie Franchise, 2014 – Present)

The LEGO Movie celebrates the limitless possibilities of building and playing, and one of the most popular characters in the film was LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). An egotistical, selfish and comedic version of The Dark Knight, he became an unlikely fan favourite.

Did it become a reality? A version of LEGO Batman was already available, but given that everything in the film and its spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie, was technically a toy, entire sets were produced to accurately capture scenes from the film.

Tri-Dimensional Chess (Star Trek, 1966 – Present)

In the future imagined by the TV and movie franchise Star Trek, we will be able to travel at light speed, beam down to planets and, apparently, play chess very differently! Captain Kirk and his fellow shipmates are seen playing a multi-platform version of chess, designed to look compelling and futuristic. It became a favourite of Trekkers across the world.

Did it become a reality? Many products were inspired by the ideas Star Trek created – the show’s touchscreen technology and mobile communicators arguably planted the seeds for the smartphones of today. However, ‘Tri-D’ Chess became a reality when fans developed rules in the 1970s. You can even play a mobile version of the game.

Captain America Trading Cards (The Avengers, 2012)

“They’re vintage. He’s very proud,” smirks Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) when telling Captain America (Chris Evans) about SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) trading cards featuring the hero. They become a tragic reminder of what the Avengers are fighting for later, when Coulson sacrifices himself for the greater good.

Did it become a reality? The ‘near mint’ trading cards were printed and sold as collector’s sets after the film broke box office records. The set is also stained with fake blood, a call back to a scene where Agent Fury (Samuel L Jackson) gave the team an ‘extra push’.

Light Cycle (Tron: Legacy, 2010)

The coolest mode of transportation in the digital realm. The original Tron invented them, but the 2011 sequel mastered the futuristic cycles to look like the stuff of science fiction dreams. Light Cycles are easily the most memorable part of Tron’s exciting legacy.

Did it become a reality? It may not leave a trail of light, but several street-legal replica bikes have been produced. Looking and feeling almost exactly like the movie, these electric light cycles don’t come cheap, with some versions selling for over USD 70,000 at auction. So, more a toy for those of us with larger bank accounts!

Talkboy (Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1992)

The Talkboy will probably seem quaint to younger movie fans, as even the most basic phones today are able to take voice notes. However, in 1992 the Talkboy, a specially made prop for Home Alone 2, played a vital part in Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) outsmarting various grownups. Particularly popular was the ability to change the speed and tone of your recorded voice.

Did it become a reality? Absolutely! A toy firm agreed to make a real version of the product, but like with Buzz Lightyear, they failed to grasp the popularity, and the item became the most in-demand present for Christmas 1993. Never underestimate an opportunity for mischief!

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