Reporters begin sniffing at Artoo mailboxes

It didn’t take long. Yesterday, I told you about Artoo Detoo mailboxes appearing around the country as part of a joint marketing effort between Lucasfilm and the US Postal Service.

Meredith Heagney of The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio has already mentioned the mailboxes in two articles, and we see the beginnings of the forthcoming controversy.

On Thursday, Heagney reported:

Once the Postal Service does talk, it will have to explain who paid for the custom mailboxes, in light of a proposed increase in first-class postage to 41 cents. Mark Haberman wasn’t impressed with the special mailbox[…]. “I think it’s a waste of money,” said Haberman, the assistant director of the Ohio Building Authority.

Yesterday, she continued the angle:

The Postal Service says it was a “Jedi mind trick.” Here on Earth it’s called a “publicity stunt.” […] [Melissa] Dodge [a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service] refused to say how much the graphics cost the Postal Service, calling it “proprietary information.” She said the cost was “very minimal.” Star Wars’ parent company, Lucasfilm, did not provide funds for the mailboxes, and the Postal Service didn’t pay to use R2-D2’s image, Dodge said.

Associated Press reports yesterday also seemed to confirm the obvious, that the big announcement on March 28 is indeed for Star Wars stamp(s).

* * *

Will the announcement be as simple as that, though? Or will the post office deliver up another Elvis-style contest? Rather than 50’s Elvis vs. 70’s Elvis, it could be Vader vs. Yoda, for instance.

While the same person cannot be honored on more than one US stamp within the same decade, there is no such restriction on fictional characters. Any such contest would be only a marketing ploy. And they would never do that, would they?

Primary Information Sources
The Columbus Dispatch: Mysterious it is, this R2-D2 mailbox that left in a flash
The Columbus Dispatch: ‘Star Wars’ mailbox sequels debut today
The Associated Press: `Star Wars’ droid R2-D2 to collect mail