Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston has tweeted his amazement/amusement upon learning Toys R Us was taking his action figure off its shelves in response to an online petition created by a Florida housewife. Toys R Us, meanwhile, has learned about the downside of the media’s deep and abiding love of all things Breaking Bad, when a flood of late-night gags and morning-infotainment-show hand-wringers turned a puny 8,000 signature-strong petition protesting the dolls into a major national story.
“Let’s just say the action figures have taken an indefinite sabbatical,” a company rep said today of the Walter White doll that comes with a bag of mini-meth, and the Jesse Pinkman doll with a mini meth-cooking safety mask.
Cranston reacted via Twitter (it’s unclear if his deal to participate in the show includes a cut of merchandising):
Last week, Susan Myers, who insists she loved the Emmy-winning AMC series, nonetheless started a Change.org petition demanding Toys R Us stop selling the dolls because they are a “dangerous deviation from [the toy chain’s] family friendly values.”
She wrote, “While the show may be compelling viewing for adults, its violent content and celebration of the drug trade make this collection unsuitable to be sold alongside Barbie dolls and Disney characters.”
If the woman had issues with the store’s stock of Game Of Thrones action figures (including a Lannister doll with its handy mini two-sided battle ax), Walking Dead human-eating zombies, or Friday The 13th dolls (with mini machetes, axes, harpoons, cleavers and hunting knives designed to perpetrate no good on their mini-neighbors), she did not mention them in her petition.
At first, the campaign seemed like harmless good fun: doll outrage, Florida, you know the drill. The retail chain originally stood its ground, explaining patiently that the Breaking Bad dolls are intended for consumers ages15 and up,and are only sold “in the adult action figure area of our stores.” Time magazine wrote an outraged navel lint-gazer in which it called Toys R Us’ decision to stock the dolls (also available on Amazon and at Walmart) the worst idea since Napoleon invaded Russia in the winter. Cranston, who starred as Walter White in the Emmy-winning series, tweeted a gag of outrage, and a good time was had by all:
Then the media fell in love with the story — as they do with all things Breaking Bad:
NBC’s Today dispatched staffers, who found the drug-dealer figures within spitting distance of G.I. Joe dolls and Super Mario Brothers figures:
Fox & Friends weighed in:
A Change.org campaign in support of the dolls reached 5,000 signatures. It had been started by a Manhattan Beach, CA, man who wanted to defend his rights as a collector of grown-guy dolls — they’re called “action figures”: ” I … like toys/action figures and I want 3-D representations of characters from my favorite properties and I love being able to walk into a store and find them,” Daniel Pickett wrote in his petition to convince TRU to keep Breaking Bad dolls, as well as Walking Dead, South Park, Game Of Thrones, Alien and Sons Of Anarchy dolls “and many other properties to the mature, responsible adults” while keeping the “family focused atmosphere” in the stores’ other 40-odd aisles “for which they are known.”
But, by this morning, the hue and cry against the dolls and their mini-meth had grown so loud, TRU, like Napoleon at Moscow, threw in the towel.