When I was a wee child, the Aliens Power Loader was the apex predator of the toy box. Armed with a head mounted machine gun, a devastating spring-loaded rocket launcher, and a pair of gnashing power claws, equally capable of crushing Cobra HISS tanks as they were at squeezing the life out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, it was the big dog of any play session. I loved that toy.
I wonder if it ever wigged my mom out to see me playing with a prop from an R-rated movie. I know it wigs me out when I see Call of Duty Mega Blok sets just sitting on display at the local Wall-Mart and look at concept designs for the "Angel City Action Set" Titanfall K'nex toys. There is just something unseemly about marketing a toy for children 3 and up from a licence that is supposedly for a Mature audience. Guess little boys and girls these days are just super into no-scope headshots and epic killstreaks.
I feel like a big fucking hypocrite about it. When I was a kid, the floor of my room looked like a Cyberdine production facility, Model 800 Terminators and Skeletal Hunter-Killer robots strewn all over the place. I don't blink when I see Batman or X-Men toys on the rack. Brooding vigilantes who pummel psychotic clowns and genocidal human magnets are fine for children of all ages apparently, but I balk at a CoD Zombies kit.
The difference I see is that Batman, for as grim and disturbing as some of the material gets, has an entire range of products and shows under that franchise's umbrella. While the Nolan movies and many of the comics are probably a little too much for young children, there are also kid friendly cartoon shows, Lego Batman games, and other stuff to steer them towards. CoD and Titanfall are just games about putting bullets into people. It's hard to spin that out to something you could justify selling to an 8 year old.
I think it's bizarre to see game franchises brazenly selling to a market way below their supposed ERSB rating. But then again, I suppose it seemed equally bizarre to my mom when I was clamouring for a Alien Queen with Acid Blood Action (tm) for my birthday.