In honor of “The Simpsons”‘ 25th anniversary, Twentieth Century Fox and the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) have unveiled a plethora of celebrity guest star merchandise — figurines, apparel, and ever-vague, promising catch-alls like “novelty items” and “collectibles” — to celebrate the 25 greatest cameo appearances in the longest-running scripted show in TV history.
This isn’t the first time Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge, and Maggie have been immemorialized in plastic to be manipulated by the grubby hands of children (and adults) everywhere. Between 1999 and 2004, Playmates Toys released “The World of Springfield” series featuring characters from “The Simpsons,” including bit parts like Blue-Haired Lawyer and Sarcastic Guy; not to mention extras like town dioramas and a glow-in-the-dark Radioactive Homer. Playmates even had their own Springfield celebrity line, but the closest they got to superstardom was probably Fat Tony, who came with such kid-friendly accessories as a stack of bills, a gun, and a cigar. (For an exhaustive history of the World of Springfield, read “Simpsons” collector Michael Crawford’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World of Springfield”.) The important thing to remember about this admittedly long-lived merchandise line is that it eventually ceased due to low sales, which could potentially be a problem this time around.
The first round of “Simpsons” merch, on sale now, includes Hugh Hefner, James Brown, Yao Ming, Kid Rock, and Tom Hanks. The second wave, to be released in April, will feature the Who, Britney Spears, Mark Hamill, Lucy Lawless and Tony Hawk. NECA and Twentieth Century Fox will continue to put out fresh celebrity faces (Justin Bieber? Katy Perry?) every two or three months for the rest of 2014. No word yet on whether any of these guys will also be rendered in Lego form along with the rest of Springfield’s permanent residents.