Dark Side coffee maker: How not to do 'Star Wars' merchandise

In the world of "Star Wars" merchandise, there are winners and there are epic fails. Crave's Amanda Kooser takes Nestle's new "Star Wars" coffee maker to task and issues a plea for marvelous merch.

Nestle Barista "Star Wars" coffee makers
Do you prefer your coffee on the Dark Side or with cream? Nestle

I've been a sucker for "Star Wars" merchandise ever since I had to get a second C-3PO action figure as a kid because I wore all the gold color off of my first one. My first kiss was with a friend named Arnie, who made my nerdy young heart beat with a sweet collection that included an X-Wing Fighter. My brother and I had matching stuffed Ewoks.

Wampa ice scraper
Wampa arm ice scraper: It's like having a little piece of Hoth at home. (Click to enlarge.) ThinkGeek

I still get a kick out of "Star Wars" swag today because of the creativity that goes into it. Fans almost always get it right when they do things like build a carpet-covered AT-AT cat condo or custom-painted Stormtrooper My Little Ponies complete with helmets and belts. These things have heart.

But this brings me to the limited-edition $120 Nestle "Star Wars" coffee makers that will be available only in Japan. You can choose between a Dark Side coffee maker with Darth Vader on it or a Rebel Alliance coffee maker with C-3PO on it. Pretty much all Nestle did was slap on some graphics and change up the colors on its regular Barista coffee machine.

Come on, Nestle, put some soul into it. You could have made a Princess Leia version with buns that doubled as working dials. You could have made one in the shape of R2-D2, complete with sound effects. Instead, you plastered a startled-looking C-3PO on the side and called it a "Star Wars" coffee maker. This is exactly how not to do "Star Wars" merchandise.

Companies aren't making "Star Wars" merch out of the goodness of their hearts. They're out to make money, but the fandom is better off when they turn out products you and me can't replicate with a Darth Vader sticker and a Mr. Coffee.

I would rather watch the "Star Wars Holiday Special" three times in a row than buy a boring "Star Wars" item. I'm all for campy commodities like R2-D2 aquariums and Princess Leia hoodies with the buns built in. At least it took some kind of crazed genius inspiration to come up with a Wampa arm ice scraper .

Here's my plea to all the manufacturers that have managed to negotiate a license to pour out official "Star Wars" merchandise: At least try to make it awesome. Make it cool awesome. Make it campy awesome. I don't care which, just at least try to make it look like you put some effort into it.

I'd take a Jar Jar Binks tongue lollipop any day over Nestle's slap-dash coffee maker. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get my meaning. What are the best and worst "Star Wars" swag items you've ever come across?

 

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