Wow, there was even an E.T. Coors beer endorsement…


By Shawn Robare

T.L. over at Flashlights are Something to Eat has been posting a bunch of vintage E.T. goodness that I’ve had a lot of fun reading, so I thought I’d take a second and riff off that today.  Watching E.T. in the theater was one of those seminal movie-going experiences I had as a kid, one where I was at that perfect age where there was no need to suspend my disbelief.  Santa Claus was still real, and so was that fugly little Reese’s-Pieces-eating alien.  What I think is strange is that even though I loved that flick, and despite the fact that it was a huge mega hit which was merchandised to hell and back (E.T. even a spokesman for Coors), I never really had much E.T. swag.  I know I had a plush E.T. doll (not the cool faux-leather one, but the regular fuzzy edition), and I eventually got a copy of the Atari game with an old used 2600 console that I snagged at a garage sale, but that’s about it.  I bet my mom never thought to pick any of the toys up because she figured it was too tame for my tastes, not as action packed as say He-Man or Star Wars figures.  Even so I always sort of coveted my friend’s E.T. stuff though, from board games to read-along books, it all just seemed to damn cool.

Well after flipping though a bunch of older magazines lately I’ve come across a couple of odd bits of E.T. merchandising that I thought would be fun to share.  This first ad is for a series of E.T. branded Buster Brown kids shoes…

I’m betting this line of shoes catered more towards little girls as two of the three styles shown are distinctly feminine.  Actually, I’m kind of disappointed in the boy’s pair as they’re kind of bland.   Sure, there’s the neat iconic silhouette of Elliot and E.T. riding a bike in front of the moon, but for all intents and purposes these are just plain brown leather shoes.  They’re not even sneakers, which is more in line with what a boy would want to wear, so these were probably regulated to family parties and church.  The girl’s designs, on the other hand, are pretty neat though.  The one pair has the sweet E.T. heart pattern on the bottom tread, and the other has that neat plastic decal that really shows off one’s love for the little alien.

I also think it’s interesting that Buster Brown decided to use packs of the Topps bubblegum cards as a sales incentive for picking up a pair of these shoes.  I mean bubblegum cards were still about a quarter a pack around 1980-1986 or so.  I’m sure the shoes were still like $20 a pair back then, so it’s not like the parents were getting a deal.

**Update**  Thanks to Craig for commenting and posting a link to the E.T. Buster Brown shows commercial.  There were at least sneakers for boys…

The second ad was for a Kuwahara BMX bike.  Billed as the bike Elliot rides in the flick, Kuwahara sure wasn’t working very hard to sell this fact with any sort of movie specific branding.  Not only was it sans basket (to make it a little more movie accurate), there weren’t even any E.T. decals or logos.  In fact, unless you popped for an additional $3.50 for the poster, how would you ever know?  Actually, that poster seems a little weird, I mean what kid wanted a poster of just a bike sitting in some fog?  Actually, now that I think about it I would probably kill for a poster of my old GT Performer just sitting in a bank of fog, so scratch that…

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  • Rondal

    Wow, I never realized that E.T. was such a whore… I mean that in the best possible way, haha. I get the bicycle, but those Busters Browns threw me, I mean I could see E.T. on some Converse, but dress shoes? Nah. I did always want one of those E.T. dolls but never did get one. :(

  • Paxton Holley

    We had an ET doll. We also had the plastic-y finger you put over your own finger then touch the tip and it lights up. LAME. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nostalgic attachment to ET the way I do for Star Wars, Back to the Future or Young Guns. I don’t know why. I enjoyed the movie, I just don’t have a big sentimental attachment to it. Great article, Shawn. Pax

  • Ally

    Okay, I swear, I’m a little annoyed right now. ET shoes? Where was I? Why didn’t I have a pair? I had everything ET when I was a kid. Really upset about this.

  • Tim L.

    “”E.T. was such a whore.”” Best way I’ve ever heard that described as it is completely accurate. Really, other than the merchandise that came out with the Batman movie in 1989, I can’t think of any other character that has been so overly-exploited. E.T. Buster Browns. I love it.

  • Michael Jones

    I had a mini ET that I’d put in my family’s creche every Christmas paying tribute to the Christ child. Every year my mom would then yell at me. I got a lot of mileage out of the light-up OUCH finger. Good for annoying anyone.

  • Craig

    There were more boy styles, according to this grainy commercial. http://www.retrojunk.com/details_commercial/11379/

  • Penis Breath

    more talk about these and even some pictures of some not shown in the poster http://www.dailyping.com/archive/2006/05/14/

  • Voted Most Likely To

    My cousin’s cousins (no relation) had an E.T. swing set in their backyard. Pretty standard fare, with a two-person swing and a slide, if I recall correctly. E.T. really was a super marketing whorelien.

  • Jephso

    You can pick up replicas of the Kuwahara BMX here in Japan on Yahoo Auctions pretty regularly (and probably in the US on eBay as well). Some even have the basket attached, but they’re all super expensive.