Before the movie, there's the stuff

April 28, 1999|By Chris Kridler

This is what the "Star Wars: Episode One" hype comes down to, fellow Jedis: merchandising!

George Lucas and company yesterday announced a bunch of nifty "Phantom Menace" gizmos that will go on sale May 3 (at 12: 01 a.m. in some stores). The amusements include animatronic banks featuring figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul that move and talk when you drop in money. There will also be talking action figures, programmable Lego droids and new video games.

The novelization of the movie, which opens in theaters on May 19, will include background material that's not in the film, and best-selling author Terry Brooks, whose many books include the Tolkien knock-offs known as the Shannara fantasy novels, has written it. It will be released with four different covers.

But the all-powerful Lucas isn't alone in his merchandising quest. McFarlane Toys and New Line Cinema will offer a series of six talking action figures to coincide with the release of the "Austin Powers" sequel "The Spy Who Shagged Me" on June 11. Shagadelic, baby.

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