In 1988, horror audiences got a new slasher icon when Child’s Play slashed its way into theaters. A two-foot-tall, foul-mouthed children’s doll possessed by the spirit of a deceased serial killer — Chucky was a hit, leading to a long-running series of sequels pitting him against his original owner Andy Barclay and anyone else who crosses his path. With a television series in the works and a remake arriving in theaters this Friday, the Child’s Play franchise shows no signs of slowing down.
In the films, Chucky was an ordinary mass-produced Good Guys doll before getting mixed up with serial killers and voodoo spells. Like the real-life Cabbage Patch Kids or Beanie Babies, Good Guys were a hot commodity. Leading single mom Karen Barclay to purchase the unlucky doll from a peddler in a back alley when the toy stores were sold out.
Perhaps not surprisingly, licensed real-life doll versions of Chucky, along with his wife Tiffany and child Glen, are popular collector’s items. Available as action figures, life-size replicas, and plushes. In addition to the licensed toys, the films have inspired a variety of promotional items and advertising memorabilia, and to celebrate all things Chucky, we’ve gathered some of our favorites here!
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Chucky’s diminutive size makes him fairly unique among slasher villains (Leprechaun notwithstanding), and this promotional plastic ruler that was sent to movie theaters to promote the original release invites fans to literally see how he will measure up against the likes of Freddy, Jason, and Michael. Shaped like Chucky’s iconic voodoo knife, it also coincidentally foreshadows the death of a particularly unlucky teacher in Child’s Play 2. Perhaps the very first piece of Child’s Play memorabilia, as most other items were related to the home video release, the ruler is highly sought after by fans.
GET STUCK ON CHUCK!
The shelves of video stores were jam-packed with slasher flicks, and even with a killer doll as its star, Child’s Play needed to stand out from the crowd. To do the trick, these miniature Chucky dolls were shipped with copies of the VHS. They have suction cups on the hands and feet, so store owners could place Chucky in the window to peer out at unsuspecting customers and entice them to “Get Stuck on Chuck!”
The advertising campaign must have worked, because similar dolls were handed out to lucky attendees at the 1990 premiere of Child’s Play 2. These are distinguished by their overalls, which show the Good Guys logo instead of the movie’s title. The home video release also was accompanied by similar dolls, and the tradition continued with Child’s Play 3.
If that’s not enough Chucky for you, similar dolls without suction cups were also released for each movie in a variety of sizes, usually 12″ or 24″. They can typically be identified by the corresponding movie’s logo on Chucky’s overalls or on an attached tag. Very similar in appearance to the promotional suction-cup versions, some of these may have been available for sale or as prizes in arcade games.
BRINGING CHUCKY HOME
In addition to dolls, the home video release of Child’s Play inspired some other fun merchandise. Madballs, toy monster heads made out of foam rubber, were all the rage in the 80s, and Child’s Play tapped into the fad when it arrived on home video. While not an official part of the Madballs line, these Chucky heads were sent to select video stores as an incentive to order copies of the VHS and have become a desirable collector’s item for Chucky fans.
Chucky had already upgraded to DVD by his 20th birthday, a but an anniversary release was put together in 2008 and lucky reviewers received these Good Guy doll battery replicas along with their DVD. Fan-made and licensed replicas are also available, but these promo versions can be identified with a careful inspection of their labels.
LONG LIVE CHUCKY
Child’s Play 2 and 3 both received tie-in novelizations to accompany their respective releases. The books were adapted by Matthew J. Costello and based on screenplays by Don Mancini. Today, these are both out-of-print and can fetch a pretty penny on eBay.
Child’s Play 3 also received these glass tumblers, although not much is known about them. They are presumably promotional items or from a premiere event. If you have any additional info on these, let us know!
After getting married in 1998’s Bride of Chucky (for which there is a plethora of licensed merchandise but not much in the way of promotional items that I have seen), Chucky took the next big step and became a father. 2004’s Seed of Chucky had an appropriately wacky marketing campaign for a movie about killer dolls becoming parents. In addition to a standard cardboard promo mask, there were Chucky-branded condoms and even a sperm-shaped stress toy.
The last two entries in the original series, Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky were released directly to video/streaming, and so received considerably smaller marketing campaigns without any distinctive promo items, despite being well received by fans. The marketing campaign for the remake is currently in full swing, with the movie set to be released on June 21st, 2019. New Chucky dolls and accessories are a sure bet, so be sure to keep your eyes out!