Product Reviews

R2-D2 Popcorn Maker

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a man named George Lucas created one of the most successful movie franchises in cinema history—”Star Wars.” He set a 2012 Guinness World Record for film merchandising success and earned $4.05 billion after selling the rights to Disney. The movie franchise has become so popular that May 4th is celebrated as “Star Wars Day,” as a spinoff of the movie’s popular saying, “May the Force be with you.”

If you watched the news this May 4th, you most likely saw Star Wars actor Mark Hamill meeting the President and participating in the daily news briefing. The question is:“How do independent hardware stores capitalize on the trend?”

The answer is the same one Lucas himself discovered: branded merchandise. During the spring markets, I had the opportunity to discover the Uncanny Brands company. Its mission is simple: “to find new ways to bring fun and fandom into everyday life. To make the ordinary (making waffles) into the extraordinary (making waffles in the shape of Bob Ross’ face).” The company offers more than 30 different Star Wars-branded kitchen merchandise ranging from an R2-D2 Popcorn Maker to a Darth Vader Light-Up toaster. Full disclosure: it was the Darth Vader toaster that first caught my attention in the booth.

A few months later, the company shipped us an R2-D2 Popcorn Maker and toaster for review. The timing was perfect, both personally and professionally. Our May issue was on the horizon, and my 11-year-old son asked to celebrate May 4th by watching a few Star Wars movies. When I told him that not only could we celebrate with a few movies, but we also had an R2-D2 Popcorn Maker to review, I thought his head would explode.

The officially licensed R2-D2 Popcorn Maker uses hot air to pop 98 percent of the kernels; no oil is required. The popper includes a measuring cup and an inside chute for popped kernels, and R2-D2’s head comes off, creating the bowl. The finished product was an outstanding, fun and healthy snack. The process is so easy that R2-D2 has made us a few additional bowls post-May 4th.

Retailers are always looking for ways to set their stores apart from the ordinary, and branded merchandise could be one tool. Branded merchandise also helps create potential customer events like a “Build your own Lightsaber Night.”

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