This piece was originally published August 12th, 2013.
For years I have been obsessed with knock off, unlicensed merchandise—famous brands, or characters, that are designed and sold with a seemingly complete disregard for anything, other than to cash in on something that has been proved to be a commercial success.
Or, as they are technically termed, Counterfeit Consumer Goods.
While the spectrum of pirated or unlicensed items can reach far into the areas of cigarettes, wine, fashion (fake Coach handbags), electronics (fake iPads) and all types of entertainment media (like that pile of DVD’s on the table at a flea market which has films just released to the theater!) it is for toys that I have a particular fondness. When you research counterfeit food and cigarettes, believe me, it gets scary.
Given any chance, I will happily scoop one up should I see a bogus toy for sale somewhere. Seeking out phony Godzillas has always been a dream knock-off toy for me, and I have collected some good ones of the great monster over the years.
Knock-off Godzilla, sans fins, is still pretty cool.
With many of these toys, attention to details are usually thrown out the window, as is any semblance of keeping the individual universes separate. Long before crossovers in comic book storylines, fake toys were mixing it up in gigantic, head-scratching way.
Here then, are some of the goofier finds that you, dear reader, can seek out and add to your collection.
Caveat emptor—in your particular location, even owning one of these underground baddies, could lead to a fine or even imprisonment. In other words, try explaining your spanking new Specialman when you stand before the judge…
Without a doubt, one of the greatest of all knock-off superheroes would have
to be Specialman. Able to leap parking meters, grab many things with his
giant mitts,and impress the ladies with his tiny Elvis-like head and hair.
The mysterious Silverbat does not have any actual superhero powers so to speak, but he and his pretty pony do share 2.3 points of articulation and come “BAT-tery operated.”
No names—no problems.
If DC is going to sue you, then you might as well get sued by Marvel too!
What is it the Jerky Boys used to say? “Sue everybody?”
Here are some examples of “Get sued by everybody.”
Of course there’ll be variations in any upstanding Hero Household.
Bootleg DC figures from Mexico—as I said, attention to detail is unimportant.
Now why didn’t Lego think of calling themselves Brick to begin with?
Everyone knows about the secret city that lies beneath any Disney amusement park, but I had no idea they made toys of the underground dwellers.
An unpopular Disney Princess.
4 year olds do not care about missing letters.
While we’re on the subject of nightmares, let me introduce you to Robot Thomas Transformer and Friends.
Titanic-Bot: looking for love in all the wrong places.
Laughing all the way to the bank: These toys have sold in the $5000-$6000 range.
I want this, I’m getting this.
A.K.A. Mario’s Super Bacchanalia.
In Wonder Pony Land, all things are possible—including working for Silverbat when you are older.
Damn dirty toys!
While bootleg toys, and other products are found in all parts of the world, especially throughout Asia and Mexico, one finds that a special and highly creative country when it comes to unlicensed items of all manner will always be that of Turkey.
The 1982 Turkish Star Wars called Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam is an infamous and unlicensed take on the real film featuring stolen footage and all types of hilarious shoddiness. You can watch it in full (there is no English however) here.
In keeping with those standards, the following are just a few examples from the Turkish 1988 Uzay Stars War toy collection (from the collection of Joseph Yglesias).
Blister card back showing the collection
The infamous Head Man, not to be confused with Headman.
Chewbacca standing by a giant gourd.
Artoo-Detoo featuring pop-up light saber
An Imperial Gunner working the controls (in fact, actually a giant calculator).