Written by Fritz Striker
By the time I had seen TIME BANDITS I was already a merchandising fanatic, due mainly the relentless blitz of toys, books, t-shirts, cups, and the like manufactured for STAR WARS. So when I did finally get to see Mr. Gilliam’s solo directorial debut (sadly not in theaters but on HBO back when it was prime-time and weekends only) I was flabbergasted at the complete lack of an accompanying action figure line.
I mean if any film deserved to have little plastic recreations of it’s characters TIME BANDITS was it. Between all the historical personalities in the film, like Napoleon and Agamemnon, to the multitude of mythic characters like Robin Hood, Minotaurs and Ogres the scenarios my fertile adolescent imagination could have come up with were virtually limitless. Not to mention R2-D2 was one of the damn leads in the film, which just confounded me further. (Yes, I was that much of a STAR WARS fan that I knew who Kenny Baker was at 12 years old.)
The fact that I had action figures from dozens of other films at the time didn’t help my frustration. Aside from George Lucas’ seminal work I had figures from THE BLACK HOLE, CLASH OF THE TITANS and even RAIDERS OF THE LAST ARK. All those characters going on adventures together but, alas, no Strutter to lip off to Indiana Jones, no Wally to ride an Imperial Speeder Bike and worst of all, no Fidgit to have an ironic meeting with R2-D2. What a frikkin jip!
In the end it might have been a good thing that I didn’t get all the figures I wanted as a kid as that lead to my love of sculpting which has actually put a few bucks in the bank over the years. But that doesn’t mean I can still be a bitter sod about it, because I am dammit. (If you’re listening Mr. Gilliam, it’s not too late to make a man-child’s dream come true.)
TIME BANDITS gets a lavish Criterion Blu-Ray release on December 9th with a new commentary, new featurettes including interviews with cast and crew and an interview between Terry Gilliam and a film scholar.