Welcome to Jaws Week! When it was announced that Steven Spielberg's Jaws was arriving on Blu-ray right smack in the middle of a bustling summer movie season, we thought it'd be perfect to dedicate an entire week to the movie that created the summer blockbuster to begin with. Every day this week we'll be posting an assortment of really fun features tied to the film, its production, its legacy, its fans, its merchandise and so much more.
When Jaws-mania swept the country back in the summer of 1975, it took almost everyone by surprise. Given that the film came in behind schedule and over budget and there was no such thing as a “summer blockbuster” yet, there wasn’t a large-scale-merchandising tie-in promotion ready to go for the movie’s release. That didn’t stop Universal and everyone else from trying to cash in on “the summer of the shark” once the film took off, though. There was an ocean’s worth of merchandise available in the wake of Jaws’ success – everything from T-shirts to jewelry to rip-off movies. George Lucas might have made the merchandising tie-in an artform with the release of Star Wars a few years later, but Jaws certainly laid the groundwork.
As the film has grown in reputation over the past three decades, there’s been no shortage of collectibles and memorabilia tied to Spielberg’s classic flick. Today, we’re taking a look at 10 of the coolest collectibles and merchandise inspired by the film that made us all afraid of the water.
McFarlane Toys Movie Maniacs Jaws Diorama
As someone who’d been proudly purchasing Todd McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs series of horror-themed action figures since the first run, picking up series four was a no-brainer even before the subjects were announced. However, when it was revealed that this newest batch of figures would include a Jaws-based diorama set, I went into complete geek-out mode.
When the set debuted, it lived up to my nerdy expectations – featuring a lovingly sculpted re-creation of Bruce’s attack on the Orca and subsequent showdown with Quint. In fact, I liked it so much I got two of them like any good nerd does – one to open and play with and display, the other to keep "mint in the box."
The set originally retailed for around $20, which is a real steal considering the quality of the parts and the detail of the sculpture. My only complaint is that it’s easy to break the main mast when assembling the kit out of the box, but the tiny Quint (who you can stick in Bruce’s mouth – and who also comes apart at the waist if you want to be really gory) more than makes up for it.
These aren’t exactly rare – but a quick perusal of recently completed eBay listings shows they sell for around $100-$125 for one in the box. And no, I won’t sell you my extra one.
Jaws board game
Ideal was quick to cash in on Jaws mania back in 1975 when they released a quaint little game inspired by the film.
The Jaws game came with a giant shark, lots of small items to place in his mouth, and a pole to fish them out of his gaping maw before he snapped his jaws closed. This was a pretty silly game – sort of like a riff on Operation! in that there’s a lot of tension involved in every turn as you wait for the shark’s mouth to snap shut. It’s hardly as cool as most of the other items on the list – but if you grew up in the '70s, you almost assuredly remember this thing.
The shark is sort of goofy looking, but I remember being at a sleepover in elementary school where one of the other kids was afraid to even go near it. In fact, it couldn’t even be in the bedroom when it was time to go to sleep.
You can still find the game in the original packaging online at places like eBay, but if the price tag is too much, Ideal re-released the game as Sharky’s Diner at some point – and it’s available for approximately $15 new.
Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard Limited Edition Hardback
There have been tons of books written about the making of Jaws – and I highly recommend almost all of them. However, the reason Matt Taylor and Jim Beller’s book makes the list is because the limited-edition version comes with a very special extra: a piece of Quint’s boat, the Orca.
Yes, not only will you get a gorgeous coffee table book filled with fascinating info about making the film (plus tons of rare and never before seen full color photos), but you’ll also get a one-inch-by-one-inch square cut directly from the Orca 2 (which was the sinking Orca in the film) along with a certificate of authenticity from owners Lynn and Susan Murphy.
If that’s not enough, you’ll also get a DVD filled with 8mm behind-the-scenes footage shot by islander Carol Fligor during the making of Jaws.
Naturally, the book is pricey ($250) and limited to a thousand copies (which are almost gone! Buy now before they all become collector’s items!), but it’s a piece of the Orca – can you even put a price on that?
If you can (and that price is less than $250), and still want a copy of the book, you can score a copy of the paperback addition for just over $30 at Amazon. You’ll still be cool, but not as cool as someone who owns a piece of the Orca.
Sideshow Collectibles and Shark City Ozark Limited Edition Jaws Maquettes
Since the vast majority of us will never own an original Bruce the Shark, we may have to settle for the limited edition Sideshow Collectibles or Shark City Ozark-produced Bruce the Shark maquettes. Let’s start by talking about the Sideshow piece.
At 28 inches in length, this thing is massive. Sideshow did a really good job with the painting and sculpting on this maquette, which is ready to serve as the centerpiece of any serious Jaws lover’s collection. The sculpture also comes with a really cool base painted to look like ocean water and a removeable Jaws nameplate… like anyone looking at this thing would even need a nameplate to recognize the most famous great white shark in movie history.
The only real issue anyone has with this piece is that it’s not a 100% accurate re-creation of Bruce the mechanical shark. Sideshow went for a “best of both worlds” approach – re-creating the monster of Spielberg’s film in an easily recognizable way while making him look more like a real great white than a mechanical one. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. This thing is awesome.
Unfortunately, these have been sold out for some time. The original Sideshow sharks sold for almost $300 (a little less for the version that wasn’t as limited), but will set you back between $500 to $700 on eBay.
If the Sideshow maquette doesn’t quite do it for you, then Shark City Ozark’s ones might be what you’re looking for.
Mike Schultz handcrafts his maquettes, customizing each one so it’s unique. These sharks are perhaps even more stunning than the Sideshow model – and absolutely massive. The SCO sharks bear more of a resemblance to the mechanical Bruces – and were meticulously sculpted by analyzing tons of production materials to ensure a flawless re-creation.
These sharks are also highly collectible (there are variations for most price ranges, as well) and were limited to 75 copies. Finding one of the collectible market should set you back well over a thousand bucks. Add in the cool Ward Welton display stand the price goes up another $150. Check out the SCO website for tons of cool photos and ordering options.
“Chumbuddy” Sleeping Bag
Not every item on the list is some super-serious and ultra-rare collectible – in fact, we love some cool and cheesy Jaws tie-ins as much as anyone. Take the Chumbuddy, for instance.
While not an officially licensed Jaws product, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what movie inspired this awesome sleeping bag/stuffed animal hybrid. The Chumbuddy was the follow-up creation to the infamous Tauntaun sleeping bag, and honestly, we think it’s cooler.
The seven-foot-long camping accessory is a giant shark (with six-and-a-half feet of room inside its massively soft and snuggly gullet). This shark, like Bruce, will swallow you whole if you’re a little one – and leave little more than your head sticking out between the gigantic jaws if you’re an adult. Who knew being eaten alive could be so adorable?
Swing by ThinkGeek to order you very own handmade Chumbuddy – but be advised, with a shark this massive, you’re gonna need a bigger tent.
Vintage Jaws Model Kits
If you grew up in the '70s like I did, you probably remember building models at one time or another. Every model I ever had as a kid was a car of some sort, but they came in lots of different forms. Some of them even looked to capitalize on the popularity of movies. When Jaws mania swept the nation, several model makers attempted to get in on the action by offering products inspired by Spielberg’s film. These kits look fairy quaint by today’s standards, but they’re still cool reminders of the “summer of the shark.”
Perhaps the most famous model kit based on the film is Addar Super Scenes Jaws in a bottle set. This snap-together kit featured Hooper in the cage with a giant shark menacing him and an oceanic background. It’s a relatively simple affair (it didn’t feature a lot of pieces and is reportedly easy to assemble), but it’s still cool – well, except for the whale tail on the shark. Clearly, someone at the sculpting or design department didn’t bother to check out the back end of a great white.
Addar had another kit as well, this one wasn’t in a bottle, and featured a loose re-creation of the film’s climactic scene. Brody and the sinking Orca mast are a flat background for a giant shark head popping out of the water. The only problem here is the shark is facing the viewer and not Brody, which is pretty strange. Unfortunately, I’ve only found one teeny-tiny picture of it online so it’s hard to appreciate the detail.
A company called Resin Realities produced a much cooler version of the final showdown between Bruce and Brody with their “Brody’s Last Stand” kit. The shark still doesn’t look quite right but the detail on Roy Scheider is amazing. You can check it out here.
Resin Realities also produced a second kit with Quint and Bruce’s final scene together. This is apparently incredibly rare – and one forum poster says it was titled “Catch of the Day,” but I can’t officially confirm that. The shark proportions are all wrong in this one and Quint isn’t nearly as detailed as Brody in the other set, but for a rare piece of Jaws merchandise, it’s kinda cool. It almost looks like the inspiration for the McFarlane box set, to be honest – but the McFarlane team did a much better job with it.
Your best bet for finding any of these is eBay. Happy hunting.
Jaws Pachinko Machine
Almost everything I know about Pachinko comes from years of watching Yakuza movies, but as I understand it, the game is sort of a cross between pinball and slots. I’d develop a much bigger interest in the game if I had access to one of these Jaws tables.
Jaws is just one of many popular films to inspire its own machine, but it’s a really sexy piece of equipment. With a high-def screen and stereo sound playing footage from the film’s trailer in attract mode, it’s a game sure to lure in the curious.
There’s not a lot of gameplay footage around, but apparently there are moments that tie into the film’s story as players progress, not unlike pinball tables based on famous movies.
The Jaws Pachinko appears to run a few hundred dollars online – if you can actually find one. I think it’s worth the effort – it’s sure to be more fun than the 8-bit Jaws game on the Nintendo Entertainment System or Jaws Unleashed on the Xbox and PlayStation 2.
Jaws Lobby Cards
Kids today probably aren’t familiar with the concept of lobby cards because they’ve become something of a lost art – but back in the day, they were cool and every bit as collectable as movie posters.
Jaws featured an eight-card set for its release back in 1975 – each one featuring an 11" x 14" still image from the film. The eight stills are of varying levels of interest (Chief Brody and his wife lounging together isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the glimpse of Bruce in the shot of Hooper in the cage, for example), but as a whole they make a fantastic accompaniment to Roger Kastel’s amazing poster art.
Finding a complete set of the lobby cards in good shape is no easy task – and will cost you some serious coin. As of today, there are two complete sets in near-mint/mint condition on eBay retailing for just under $1,000 and $2,000 each. A brief look through the completed items shows another set sold recently for $675.
Foreign versions can be had for less – and there are some “mini” lobby cards for the film that appear to command far less money as well. If you’re a certified Jaws fanatic, you’ll only settle for the real deal – so dig deep into those wallets.
Quint’s Jacket and Cap
Collector Chris Kiszka has an amazing collection of Jaws memorabilia made up of real props used in the film. You can scroll through pictures of them at this website and drool over how awesome all of it is. Kiszka has a little bit of everything – from the barrels Quint shoots into Bruce to the oxygen tank that kills the beast once and for all, but there’s one piece that stands out above all the rest: Quint’s jacket and cap.
The battered military coat and hat combo might be the coolest piece of Jaws memorabilia around since it was worn by Robert Shaw in some of the film’s most important scenes. It’s the sort of thing that would wind up in a Planet Hollywood today, but since Jaws was shot long before those tourist traps came into existence, it seemed more likely destined for a dumpster or a studio backlot.
I’ve no idea how Kiszka acquired this piece (or any of his collection – unfortunately the site linked above is filled with photos, but no stories to accompany them), but as a diehard Jaws geek, owning this would be right up there with having one of the original animatronic sharks from the film.
Bruce the Shark
Speaking of Bruce, he finds a spot on our list as well.
When Jaws was originally filmed, there were three Bruces made for use in the film. Each got screen time depending on what the shot in question called for and have gone on to become big stars in their own right.
Unfortunately, after Jaws wrapped shooting, the sharks were relegated to the backlot at Universal. There, they rotted away in the sun, all but forgotten by a fickle public. Over the years, fans have held out hope that at least one of the original Bruces survived the filming and subsequent banishment to the backlot, but it appears SoCal’s bright days and dry rot killed those three monsters just as assuredly as Roy Scheider does at the climax.
However, it turns out there were actually at least four Bruces made from the original Jaws mold – and the fourth one (which never appeared on camera and spent the years from the mid-1970s to 1990 hanging out at Universal Studios Hollywood) is alive – if not entirely well.
This fourth Bruce, a Holy Grail for Jaws enthusiasts, is mounted at the Aadlen Bros. Auto Wrecking U-Pick Parts yard. The father of the lot’s current owners acquired the shark in 1990, when he was conducting business with Universal Studios, and Bruce has called the yard home ever since. NPR reporter Cory Turner wrote a piece about his pilgrimmage to find this Bruce, and it’s a great read if you’re interested in the beast and the history of the sharks used in the film.
Unfortunately, this last remaining Bruce is not in great shape. The stucco exterior is flaking off in huge chunks, his original teeth have been replaced with wooden dentures, and he’s in need of some upkeep according to reports from last year. There was an Internet movement afoot to restore Bruce to his former glory (something FX technicians say is entirely doable), but there hasn’t been an update to the site in a year. Here’s to hoping this classic piece of movie history is preserved for future generations.