Via The Washington Post:
Beginning in about 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a custom-made Osama bin Laden action figure, according to people familiar with the project. The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.
The goal of the short-lived project was simple: spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden.
The code-name for the bin Laden figures was “Devil Eyes,” and to create them the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business, said those familiar with the project.
Unsurprisingly, the operation seems to have fallen somewhat short of success:
There’s a dispute over how many of the figurines, if any, were ultimately delivered. A person with direct knowledge of the project in China said hundreds of the toys — one of which was seen by The Washington Post — were made as part of a preproduction run and sent on a freighter to the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2006.
The CIA, while not disputing that it had commissioned the bin Laden figures, said the project was discontinued shortly after the prototypes were developed.
It’s easy to blame the failure of this plan on the fact that “Devil Eyes” is just a stupid fucking idea, but remember — kids are really impressionable. Imagine trying to sell them cereal with Tony the Bloody Tiger Pelt or Count Cholera. There would probably be less childhood obesity, for one.
So if it wasn’t the overall concept, the failure must have had something to do with the product’s design:
I was hardly the first to notice the startling resemblance between “Devil Eyes” Osama and Star Wars villain and Sith Lord Darth Maul:
This works on some level, I suppose: Darth Maul is pretty freaky-looking, and Bin Laden’s personal brand would certainly suffer by any association with the Phantom Menace. But “Star Wars character” is a badge terrorists in Pakistan often wear in pride (like the time several of them stormed a naval base and killed 11 navy officials and a ranger). Indeed, Darth Maul’s role — rogue element dedicated to tearing down the Galactic Republic — is likely one Osama would have embraced.
There are also certain less-obvious defects that come with associating the prequels with Osama bin Laden. In fairness to the CIA, how could it know that that link would ultimately make for an unfortunate comparison, given how his capture eventually played out:
In case you’re reluctant to watch even 8 seconds of that movie — and I’d hardly blame you — here’s a brief transcript, courtesy of IMDB (speaking of Yoda):
Clone Commander Thire: There is no sign of his body, sir.
Mas Amedda: Then he is not dead?
The Emperor: Double your search!
Which is why I would suggest the CIA should have chosen a safer route, associating Osama with something that could completely discredit him and absolutely guarantee no self-respecting prospective jihadist radical would ever look at him and his cause the same way again:
After all, why stick with just “Devil Eyes” when you have such a healthy variety of satans to choose from?