Back in 1984 Walt Disney Records issued a series of five read along records exclusively through Hardee’s. Each of the five records spanned a section of the film Gremlins. The intent with read along records was for a novice reader to read along with the narrator. The Gremlins records were pressed as 45s presumably so that they would be easier for Hardee’s to distribute.
Anyone of a certain age remembers that Hardee’s always had the coolest merchandise tie-ins. I remember quite fondly their partnership with Marvel Comics that yielded some pretty rad X-Men figures to tie in with the Lee/Claremont run. This is all in the past now and things such as the Gremlins read along adventures are today a kind of cultural artifact.
These five little records were a gift to display alongside my growing collection of NECA’s Gremlins action figures. The interior illustrations in the accompanying books housed as part of the 45’s sleeve are gorgeous and evoke the spirit of Joe Dante’s film beautifully. They combine the aesthetic of a Ruby-Spears cartoon with Dante’s own Looney Tunes sensibility. Each of the five volumes comes with a sixteen page story book which amounts to ninety pages of these fun illustrations.
The eighties were an age of experimentation for movie merchandising. Every family oriented film took a stab at toys, records, books, stickers and trading cards to varying degrees of success. Gremlins came out hot on the heels of E.T., Indiana Jones and Return Of The Jedi so a massive merchandise push was inevitable.
Of the objects yielded by this campaign the Hardee’s Gremlins records are probably my favorite objects. Aside from the illustrations my favorite part is the use of sound effects from the movie, particularly Gizmo’s little squeaks and chirps. When these were first released they sold for ninety-nine cents and today they can go for up to twenty dollars an album. If one can get them for between ten and fifteen bucks a record it is definitely well worth it to add to your Gremlins collection.