By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist January 21, 2013 at 11:19AM
Toy company NECA has been no stranger to darker or violent attributes when it comes to their lines of film-related figurines, having drawn content from “Sin City,” “The Evil Dead” and, most extensively, the filmography of Quentin Tarantino. With the director's highest grossing film, “Django Unchained,” it looked like stellar business was in store for the toy company, but now NECA -- and The Weinstein Company -- have been served with the type of controversy wafting off the spaghetti western itself.
The Weinsteins have just announced plans to discontinue their line of “Django Unchained” figurines after a flood of protests objected to NECA's supposed commercialization of slavery, which -- in the words of Change.org's petition -- “makes a mockery of our ancestors' bloodshed, strife, pain and suffering." As with all of their figures licensed from R-rated films, NECA advised its toy likenesses of Django, Broomhilda, Stephen, and others for ages 17+, and likewise aimed squarely at film memorabilia collectors.
Still, a glimpse of those dedicated fans' collections would likely produce NECA's “Inglorious Basterds” toys, which included Aldo Raine and Hans Landa figurines, and passed without much comment or uproar upon their release. However, a much fiercer debate has arrived with “Django Unchained” that shines a piercing spotlight on its every move, and when a toy renders a superhero slave/master context shrunk down to mantle pieces, there's bound to be some kerfuffle.
The figures are currently selling upwards of $300 on Ebay, so if you want to get in on the controversy, it'll take a pretty penny. One thing's for sure though -- if Tarantino does get around to making his WWII 'Basterds' spinoff, “Killer Crow,” a more carefully prepared merchandising approach by the Weinsteins is bound to accompany it. Take a last look at the toys below before they're gone. [Vulture]