Julian H. Betancourt
THE M & M's STAR WARS MPIRE
We are all very aware of the appetizing phrase "They will melt in your mouth , not in your hand" However this familiar M & M's slogan doesn't seem to properly fit here. The candies we are bringing on to the plate aren't exactly the kind that will melt in our mouth and an attempt to ingest any of them most likely will make them one hard snack to swallow.
As part of the big campaign to promote Revenge of the Sith in theaters, Lucasfilm, LTD. and Masterfoods USA came together in 2005 to offer film and candy lover alike a fun and sweet collectible sweet. This promotional partnership made Masterfoods USA and its M & M product the exclusive confectionery snack sponsor of the sixth and final movie.
The campaign which included milk chocolates, and all new dark chocolate M&M's known as "Sith Mix", M&M Minis, Skittles, and Kudos featured collectible packaging that portrayed M&M characters as iconic Star Wars heroes and villains capturing their signature look through their costumes and armory. Using a smart play on words the M & M's world of Star Wars was created and crowned : Chocolate Mpire.
Besides the art, posters and life-size standees of M&M Darth Vader and other, Mpire offered a line of Star Wars M&M figures, roughly 2" tall. These toys were sold through several retailers and online shops for around seven to ten dollars. A set of 6" plush character toys named Chocolate Mpire Plush Buddies was also made available. This guide provides visuals for both collectibles as well as a review of the smaller toys.
MPIRE: PRESENTATION PACKAGE
Mpire figures were offered in standard blistered cardbacks with a J-hook. However, unlike common rectangular ones, Mpire employed rounded cardbacks resembling the circular shape of an M & M and serving as the perfect contour for their background graphic, a Death Star with an over imposed letter M. Due to the odd shape of the cardbacks, those keeping the figures carded and put away will notice they do not store well. from the bottom to the top the card blister was increasingly flattened in a 45 degree angle to accommodate the figures. The bottom area of the card worked as a base to keep the presentation package securely standing.
The front, sides and back of the card displayed clear renderings of the figures however no description of the characters, other than their names was given. The back of the cards also showed pictures of some of the other figures in the Wave. A later revision of the back of the card (to include a picture of R-2) added the name of the M& M's characters above their corresponding Star Wars name. For instance Han Solo was described as: * M & M's Blue Character as Han Solo. The same revised package altered the shape of the top of the blister by adding a raised bubble where a golden sticker with black letters was applied. The sticker read: SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION
MPIRE: SCULPTING & ARTICULATION
Keep in mind these are PVC figures lacking movement for the most part and their somewhat mediocre sculpting falls about equal for all of them. However, while exceptionally detailed, the sculpts offered a fair representation of the Galaxy's heroes and villains they portrayed. Without hesitation Han Solo, Chewbacca, Queen Amidala or any other character were easily identifiable in all their chocolate roundness.
Listed below are worth mentioning, relevant details found on some of these figures. The rest of the sculpts one could say are very basic lacking distinctly design. Nonetheless, they do compliment the line as a whole:
Boba Fett: His stance isn't at all a fearsome one (it's a chocolate by God's sake), however there are some details making the sculpt authentic enough to the selective eye. The helmet sports the infamous dent on its side and his jet backpack with silver painted missile and directional exhaust nozzles is well rendered.
Queen Amidala: Her red throne room gown offers lots of gold embroidery and her braided hair is accentuated by golden ribbons over a face frame which holds a forehead jewel.
C-3PO: His posture is a thoughtful one with his right arm raised and his index finger to his chin. His body shell offers enough detail for one to notice the emitter sensor at the very top of its head, wrist linkages and back box.
R2-D2: Its well detail dome clearly shows the holographic projector, radar eye and processor state ventilator. The body also shows the droid's system vents. R2 surprisingly offers some play action by having pin joints for its legs, allowing it to swing its perfectly rounded body back and forward.
Darth Maul: Close to accurate detail on Maul's face tattoos. His lightsaber hilt shows the red activator buttons and ribbed handgrip. His left hand, the one holding the double bladed lightsaber, can be rotated but this movement is limited due to the length of the saber's blades.
General Grievous: Good rendering of Grievous's Kaleesh mask showing proper sculpting of its ultrasonic vocabulator and engraved forehead lines. Good detail on his arm and knee plates as well.
MPIRE: PAINT APPLICATION
There is a considerable downfall as far as paint application for these figures is concerned. While the pieces shown on the packages sport rich, perfect coloration, it isn't so with the actual sculpts. The shiny black boots of many of the characters are a nice touch and some areas do present proper color separation but there is quite a bit of paint bleeding on most of the figures making them less than perfect.
The application of the yellow paint on the Chewbacca figure, for instance, bleeds into the brown of his fur. Vader's cape chain gets splashes of yellow from the character's body. The brown paint on Luke's belt bleeds right into his white outfit, etc, etc, etc ... For the most part the eyes of unmasked characters are irregularly painted,presenting blotches. Threepio's arms are also inaccurately painted in a flesh-like pinkish color. Why that was done I still wonder myself.
Accessorizing the figures with a blaster gun or rifle would had certainly added more personality to the individual sculpts, unfortunately that was not the case having (except for Maul) no weapons to defend themselves. Every two-pack however was accessorized with two black oval stands with embossed Star Wars Mpire logo rendered in red, white and yellow. The stands presented one foot peg to tightly secure the figures to. Three stands were given to the Threepio/Artoo/Amidala pack but the card made no mention of this. Other than the stands, there weren't any other accessories to speak of.
MPIRE: THE WAVES
Mpire's 17 figure set consisted of six 2-packs and one 3-pack for a total of seven character packs. The figures were broken down into two waves and released separately.
Wave One first appeared nationwide at Toys R Us stores and it was made of the following figures:
Wave 2 was found at Walmart stores shortly after Wave 1 was released, containing the following figures:
As part of the Chocolate Mpire promotion, a cuddly set of 7" plush toys dressed as our favorite Star Wars characters was produced. Using cheesy phrases such as " When you hug these Galactic Plush Buddies in your hands, your heart might melt but nothing else will " , the "buddies" were offered and individually sold through several retailers, including KB Toys, Toys R Us and Walmart among others. There was no presentation package made for these toys.
MPIRE: ART WORK
A great deal of an effort was put into making the people aware about the Mpire world. In a well conducted marketing campaign the art work involved in it becomes an essential tool in order to capture the attention of the public through visual channels, providing an array of appealing product related images and thus promoting its sales. Mpire was loyal to that concept.
The following three frames are a clear example of the art work employed to promote Mpire product. These are pictures of a display case for the Mpire candy packs and computer wallpapers. Worth noting in one of these wallpapers was the addition of a Red character dressed as a Sandtrooper. This was in fact one character never made available in toy form. Rumor had it a third Wave of Star Wars M & M's characters was going to be released but it was never confirmed by Hasbro and nothing else has been said about it. The truth is that if such Wave ever materializes, Red as the Sandtrooper would indeed be an interesting addition to this collection.
MPIRE: FINAL THOUGHT
Mpire figures were definitely not for everyone. Their comedic look, lack of precise detailing, sloppy paint application and very limited articulation had a lot to do with their somewhat unpopular welcoming. Their almost non existent action play made them uninteresting to the younger crowd they were mainly directed to, kids. The same could be said for the adult collector. On the other hand, folks interested in collecting unique looking toys they found these figures provided them with a peculiar departure from ordinary sculpts and were well received.
In conclusion, for the collector that has it all, adding these tiny chocolates to their collection was sweet treat to sink their teeth into.