For a while, this seemed like Hollywood's Next Big Thing, with Universal singing a lucrative deal with Hasbro to churn out movies based on their properties, eventually putting most of those projects, like an Adam Sandler-led "Candyland," into turn-around. (Some will still see the light of day, like October's Michael Bay-produced found footage spook show "Ouija.") Apparently, the novelty of seeing toys turned into movies has worn off.
Still, it's enough to make you want to look back at the five best (and five worst) toy-to-feature film adaptations, and how each one of them was either something you'd want to play with repeatedly or "forget" in the sandbox.
Gallery | The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) Movies Based on Toys
- BEST - 5. 'Masters of the Universe' (Gary Goddard, 1987)
It's unwise to classify "Masters of the Universe" as a great film. Or even a good film, really. But in the low hanging fruit arena of the movies-based-on-toys, it does get a number of things right: mostly the big-screen equivalent of what it was like to bash brittle plastic toys together in an imaginary battle for the salvation of the cosmos. The film starred the colossally underrated Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. There was also an incredibly young and adorable Courtney Cox in there somewhere. The plot was pretty nonsensical, but we can't help but think fondly to the movie's crude but effective visual effects, Bill Conti's lush, "Star Wars"-y score, and a large chunk of the narrative revolved around what we remember being a very glitzy synthesizer that is probably now owned by Daft Punk.
- BEST - 4. 'G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra' (Stephen Sommers, 2009)
While the sort-of sequel, last year's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," may do a technically better job at replicating the sensation of playing with the army toys (and watching the cartoon spin-off and reading the comic books and...), the original film is still superior, at least in terms of craftsmanship and storytelling. "Rise of Cobra" comes complete with a number of standout set pieces, the best of which being an accelerated chase through the streets of a futuristic Paris where a pair of the Joes (including a then-relatively-unknown Channing Tatum) don robotic suits that let them hop around like, well, a kid playing with his favorite army toys. All other accessories (including realistically drawn characters and believable dialogue) sold separately.
- BEST - 3. 'Mars Attacks!' (Tim Burton, 1996)
In 1962, a series of collectible trading cards, which traced the invasion of planet earth by a horde of skull-faced Martians, who took gleeful delight in the dismemberment, atomization, and torture of the human race, was released, to the shock and consternation of parents everywhere. So, of course Tim Burton had to turn it into a lavish Hollywood blockbuster that more or less imploded, like some kind of Martian neutron bomb, on impact. What makes "Mars Attacks!" so good is the fidelity to the sensation of thumbing through a pack of these cards and going "Oh man" and moving along quickly. With its fractured, Irwin Allen-esque narrative charting a group of disparate characters as they deal with the extraterrestrial menace, the movie had a joyful, four-color spirit that is simply irrepressible. Sadly, the film's box-office failure meant that the sequel, "Dinosaurs Attack!," based on another series of cards, did not roar to life.
- BEST - 2. 'Transformers' (Michael Bay, 2007)
These mighty morphing, box office-conquering robot aliens originally started out as clunky kids toys that would awkwardly shape-shift from some mundane shape (usually a car or truck) into a powerful robo-warrior. What made the original film such a treat was that it didn't get bogged down by unnecessary "mythology" (the sequels would take care of that), instead focusing on the relationship between a young human (Shia LeBeouf) and his first car, who just so happens to be one of the aforementioned robo-warriors named Bumblebee. Sure there was some kind of doodad that everyone, good Autobot and evil Decepticon alike, wanted, but that was almost beside the point. Instead, it tapped into executive producer Steven Spielberg's early Amblin films, when some otherworldly entity would befriend an earthly, changing both of their lives forever. The simplicity and grace of this original move would pave the way for the much louder, much nastier sequels, but for a movie that was thought of as something of a joke, it holds up remarkably well. Wish I could say the same thing for my 25-year-old Transformers figures.
- BEST - 1. 'Clue' (Jonathan Lynn, 1985)
"Clue" is maybe the most beloved modern board game (after "Monopoly," which Sir Ridley Scott was thinking of turning into a movie), and the movie is a testament to the power of its simple original concept: it's a locked door murder mystery wherein a small cluster of guests is systematically murdered one-by-one until the murderer is identified and stopped. With a script co-written by John Landis and a production overseen by John Carpenter confederate (and ex-wife) Debra Hill, the movie has palpable mood, easily mixing dread with screwball comedy (provided by its breathless cast, which includes Tim Curry, Lesley Ann Warren, Michael McKean, Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull and Madeline Kahn). But maybe the best part of "Clue" was how it was originally packaged with one of four different endings, simulating the game's open-ended nature, which would be selected at random. Later, television and home video releases shoved all of the endings on to the tail of the film, but can you imagine how much fun it would have been to compare which ending of "Clue" you got? It would be like, well, playing the board game.
- WORST - 5. 'Battleship' (Peter Berg, 2012)
Clearly built in the mode of "Transformers," this big-budget Hasbro "adaptation" had the classic board game, where you face off against a friend in a vaguely Cold War-y battle of wits, was turned into a loud, bombastic action movie where aquatic alien invaders interrupt a Naval testing game. So it's like "Top Gun" meets "Independence Day" (at least on paper). While the movie certainly has its charms, and some high profile defenders in the likes of former Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Schwartzbaum and Huffington Post entertainment writer Mike Ryan, it's kind of dopey and features one of the lousiest musician-turned-actor performances in Rihanna's tough-as-nails weapons specialist. Plus, the aliens look so, so dumb. The ten-minute sequence where the movie basically becomes the game is sort of spectacular, in an I-can't-believe-they're-really-doing-this kind of way.
- WORST - 4. 'The Care Bears Movie' (Arna Selznick, 1985)
This shoddily animated, barely coherent feature based on the abundant teddy bear line (its production was co-financed by Kenner, General Mills, and American Greetings), actually managed to out gross Disney's animated offering for the year, which indirectly led to the buckled-down Disney Renaissance. So, at least we have that to be thankful for. Otherwise, this sugary, sing-song-y mess is best left to the hazy shadows of nostalgia (and not much more).
- WORST - 3. 'The Garbage Pail Kids' (Rod Amateau, 1987)
Talk about the snake that eats its own tail: The "Garbage Pail Kids" property was a series of trading cards (not unlike "Mars Attacks!") that was produced mainly to gross out parents who would happen upon the cards. They were ostensibly a parody of the uber-popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls (which would also inspire their own movie), but witty satire wasn't on the menu. Instead, they were just a series of tasteless gags. The movie made things even more stomach-churning by bringing the characters to full three-dimensional glory in a live action adaptation. The result is a slipshod production that attempts to be like a back alley version of the classic Amblin movies except totally, totally horrible, like if "Gremlins" was unwatchable filth.
- WORST - 2. 'Dungeons & Dragons' (Courtney Solomon, 2000)
Before New Line had the "Lord of the Rings" films, they attempted an epic fantasy in "Dungeons & Dragons," based on the role-playing game where virginal nerds toss around an eight-sided die in their parents' basement. (I've never understood it and I never will.) This movie still has some of the dodgiest special effects seen on the big screen in the last couple of decades, with computerized vistas that would make the guys who developed "Myst" chortle in embarrassment, plus an oddball cast that included Marlon Wayans, Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch, and Richard O'Brien (YES! From "Rocky Horror Picture Show!") Just thinking about this movie makes me wish a wizard would cast a level five forgetfulness spell on me.
- WORST - 1. 'Bratz' (Sean McNamara, 2007)
The crumbling sound you're hearing is feminism being set back a couple of decades. "Bratz," based on the line of snobby, Barbie-esque fashion dolls, was overseen by former Marvel big shot Avi Arad, and, at one point, was set to include choreography and wardrobe designs by Paula Abdul. Abdul didn't stick around, but the general conceit of the property -- that looking like a tart and getting boys to like you are the chief concerns for any young girl coming of age in America, did. There is so much offensive material in "Bratz," not just towards women by the general human race, that if I started to list it I'd probably die of old age before this piece was completed. Regardless, for just a taste of the toxic vileness of "Bratz," look up the trailer. And just think to yourself: What would Paula Abdul do?