There were some truly strange movies to be found in the "Children's" section of your local Blockbuster in the '90s, but Small Soldiers was definitely unique.
The action film about a batch of killer toys was marketed as family-friendly, but many parents were surprised by the movie's more violent scenes. The reason for that mixed message is one of our 11 surprising facts about the movie.
1. It wasn't meant to be a children's movie
The film's director, Joe Dante, had already pushed the envelope for dark, family-friendly comedies with Gremlins. But he had no intention of making a kids movie this time around.
"Originally I was told to make an edgy picture for teenagers, but when the sponsor tie-ins came in the new mandate was to soften it up as a kiddie movie. Too late, as it turned out, and there are elements of both approaches in there. Just before release it was purged of a lot of action and explosions."
The studio set out to whitewash the movie's image to help toy sales, including removing promotional art of Chip Hazard holding a gun. You can still see the original artwork in the film.
2. The movie caused a headache for Burger King
The fast food chain agreed to hand out Small Soldiers toys with their kids meals, but that was before the movie was slapped with a PG-13 rating. Certain locations allowed parents to trade in their toys for a Mr. Potato Head instead, while all the Small Soldiers toys were packaged with this message:
"While toys are suitable for children of all ages, the movie Small Soldiers may contain material that is inappropriate for younger children."
3. And there was still more controversy
One of the members of the Commando Elite is named "Kip Killagin." By an unlucky coincidence, just as the toys arrived at Burger King, an Oregon teen named Kip Kinkel injured more than 25 students and killed four people in a school shooting.
Needless to say, the Kip Killigan toy wasn't handed out in Oregon.
4. There's a few clever nods to Gremlins hidden in the movie
Joe Dante couldn't resist referencing his past work, but chose some cheeky ways to do it. There's a Gizmo toy in the dumpster behind the toy store, and a gremlin skull sitting on Alan's desk. Then, of course, there's David Cross's computer password:
5. The movie took inspiration from Predator
If you look at the designs of the Commando Elite action figures, it's easy to see they were inspired by the cast of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Predator. In fact, the cast of that movie were meant to voice their counterparts in Small Soldiers.
Schwarzenegger would voice Chip Hazard, Shane Black would play Kip Killagin, Carl Weathers would be Butch Meathook, Brick Bazooka was meant to be Jesse Ventura, Nick Nitro would be played by Sonny Landham, and Bill Duke would voice Link Static.
Of course, the final movie went in a different direction, with the cast of another action movie filling the roles.