Awesomely Bad Bootleg Action Figures.

We went back to the Englishtown flea market this past Sunday.

Since it’s warmed up, it was much busier. There were countless vendors outside, running what could only be described as “junk tables.” It was as if hundreds of people banded together for an enormous yard sale, and as is always the case with those, the offerings were hit or miss. (I often wondered why certain sellers even bothered. Some set their prices 3-4 times more than the eBay norm, even if their wares were in terrible shape. Maybe they just like the atmosphere, or air that stinks of roasted corn.)

I couldn’t help noticing the insane amount of bootleg action figures for sale. If there were 400 vendors in all, it seemed like at least half of them were selling knockoff Power Rangers.

You know the kind. They’re cheap, shoddy figures sold in cheap, shoddy packaging, usually in sets of four or more. The figures in each set might have absolutely nothing to do with one another. (An example being a four-pack that included a Red Ranger, a White Ranger, Black Widow and Batman. Ship that, motherfucker.)

I’m not saying that it’s an “industry” deserving of support, because obviously, it’s not. The toymakers act like the properties they draw from are in the public domain, and besides, the figures are utterly bad. I don’t know much about paint and plastic, but I know enough to be wary about sending a six-year-old off to chew a Batman figure that came from one of these sets. Unless the plan was to kill him.

Still, I’d be lying if I said that these bootlegs didn’t have a certain charm. Just look at this set!

I had no plans of going home with shitty action figures of amoral origin, but how could I resist the Super Special Heroes seven-pack? It’s atrociously awesome, mixing characters from wildly different properties, with absolutely no running theme aside from “heroes kids kind of enjoy.” It’s even more bizarre than the similar set I found back in 2008!

Where else will you find Buzz Lightyear, Spider-Man and Batman teaming for the greater good?

It’s par for the course with bootlegs, but the Super Special Heroes set takes false advertising to a new extreme. The packaging highlights properties that are absolutely not a part of the set, including TMNT, The Incredible Hulk, and for some unknown reason, Shrek the Third. Huh?

The images used were just lifted from websites. Take note of the big TMNT logo on the back, paired with a “VIEW THE TEASER TRAILER” link that (obviously) links nowhere.

Sometimes I just sit and wonder where these sets come from. This one says “MADE IN CHINA,” but they all do. I think “MADE IN CHINA” is just bootlegger code for “YOU WILL NEVER FIND US.”

Then, there’s the figures themselves. Terrible, as expected. It hits a point where you’d swear they were intentionally bad, because while I understand the budgetary reason for cutting so many corners, some of the “hiccups” are just so in-your-face. Like, would it have really been so hard to finish painting Buzz’s other leg? It’s as if the toymakers were embracing the idea that they suck. Is this what people mean by meta-humor?

The Green Ranger guy looks… well, I guess he looks okay enough, though the end result is a bit more “oversuited cyclist” than “Power Ranger.”

Meanwhile, Batman debuts his new peanut head. The Dark Nut.

Because it would’ve made too much sense to fill out the set with a Power Ranger in a different color, we instead get two identical Spideys, both with arms that look more like mutant crab claws. Their forearms are thicker than their heads!

Mr. Incredible looks pleased, and he should, because those hard nights at the gym have really paid off. It’s just too bad that he can’t see his six-pack, what with having no eyes and all.

Superman is my favorite figure in the set. He just looks so upset about this. I’m imagining a scenario wherein the souls of our greatest superheroes were forcibly transferred into horribly misshapen bodies, and Superman is the only one who knows it. Maybe not 100%, but he knows that something is wrong.

“Curious that I find myself in the company of this Buzzing Lighthead. Perhaps he can explain why my hands are bigger than my feet. ”

These are terrible toys that are a part of a terrible industry, made in volume for an audience that should not exist.

On the other hand, I now own a Superman figure with caterpillar eyebrows. No doubt, that’s a win.

  • Jugendsehnsucht

    Damn… poor Superman seems utterly traumatized. He looks like he ordered You’ve Got Mail off Netflix and just found out the hard way that he was sent Salò by mistake.

    I suppose it’s a bit early to say due to the intermittent nature of the thing, but I haven’t seen any missing posts or articles yet tonight, so it would appear that you and/or Cliff fixed it!

  • starwenn

    I like Mr. Incredible. He’s blind, but he’s friendly. Superman looks like he wishes he had his cape so he could fly away and find a decent paint job.

    And congrats, Dr. Manimal! Good luck with your new journey.

  • DJ D

    Did this thing have a date on it, because all of the ad campaign stuff on the back is pretty dated. I know I personally can’t wait to get my hands on such modern classics as a Brandon Routh version of Superman or even a Toby Maguire Spider-Man 3 figure! You know, because the 3rd one was the best out of that franchise and went over so well with the fans.

    “Superman looks like that Pamela Vorhees severed head prop from years ago on X-E.”Bill
    It totally does! Complete with decapitation action and unexpected man-hands!

  • Wes

    Hey! That “audience that should not exist” is ME. THESE TOYS WERE MADE FOR ME.

    I nearly wept when I got my hands on that bootleg Grimlock that transforms into Godzilla, and I would still move mountains to acquire that knockoff Cutie Honey figure in Buffy packaging. So brilliant.

  • Hoverbored

    Matt- Buzz Lightyear looks like he’s doing a George Lopez impression.

    Maybe we should call him Buzz Liteyeer.

  • jeffm

    My 3yo son would lose his mind to a set like this. All the good heros in one set, two Spidermans, and I don’t have to pay 10.99 per figure. Win on both sides!

  • Guise

    @Matt, sorry, for me the site is only showing up to Sardine Survival, I had to go through the ‘next post’ tabs.

  • mandy_Reeves

    I love the bootleg DBZ figures….I have a Bootleg Hello Kitty diary that says HELLO KILLY! It’s pretty fun. You got ripped off…Delrado’s flea market on white horse pike in Galloway, these figs are 5 bucks. It’s a small but mighty flea market in a shut down diner parking lot.

    I go there for the people selling their old vera bradley bags that they hoard from the fancy good will in hammonton.

    There is one guy who sells happy meal toys in gallon ziplock bag for 5 dollars…sometimes you get an old wrestling figure thrown in there…

  • Seerauber Jenny

    Why are there always multiple Spider-Mans? I used to go to a flea market with a booth that sold packs like this, only every figure was Spider-Man. Like, five or six Spider-Mans in one package. Do bootleggers not realize that Spidey is only one guy?

    Personally, I think Superman looks like Andrew Dice Clay.

  • Guise

    I think the clue is that these are from Englishtown and therefore are designed to help lower your expectations as a child to make way for the enjoyment of disappointment of later years – just what every British boy and girl was brought up with. I know for certain that all my Action Force figures growing up were always fighting Cobra whilst in the back of their mind begrudging the Poll Tax and the increase in Royal Mail postage prices (in particular Snake Eyes who being mute could never enjoy the Friends and Family call plan from British Telecom).

    These are therefore not knock-offs but British variants.

    Let’s see…

    Mr Incredible? No, that’s Incestuous Boy, the give away is his malformed jawline and chin and ‘I licked the paint can’ expression. His hands are mighty for he works down on the farm.

    Green Ranger? No, that’s David Prowse’s Green Cross Code Man manifested. He fights crime by travelling through pedestrian crossings throughout the nation – but he only stays around for a few seconds and then you have to wait several minutes for him to reappear. His range is also limited to roadside crimes.

    Buzz Lightyear? No! That’s Bob Gurning: Adventure-naut, he’s the British answer to all those NASA astronauts. His exploits are legendary, he helped fix the Hubble telescope with a few bits of wood and roofing felt that he’d been keeping in the shed and warded off alien threats by pointing out the invasion fleet was in a No Unloading Zone and lacked a residents permit.

    Spiderman 1 and 2? Try ‘The Daddylonglegs Brothers’, a team of former British wrestlers who went from the highlife of appearances in Bridlington and Yeovil to fighting crime by menacingly hanging about in the corners of rooms and making a fuss whenever anyone tried to shoo them away.

    Batman? No, that’s just Brian, he’s part of Fathers 4 Justice and we don’t really talk about him.

    Superman? Nice try, wrong though. That’s SpotOfTeaMan, his expression is the famous Dual Quizzical Gaze as he looks into another being and determines just how many sugars they take and whether they would like a biscuit!

  • Larry P.

    @ Seerauber Jenny: Does that make this the only Superman figure in history that’s able to leap tall buildings AND reenact key scenes from The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane?

  • Teddy Ray

    These terrible bootleg action figures are awesome, in the same way that “Snakes on a Plane” is an awesome terrible movie. I’m glad to see Mr. Incredible has been working out. He looks good. Damn, poor Superman, though. That poor bastard. starwenn said he looks like he wishes he had his cape so he could fly away…he doesn’t need his cape to fly, but I’m thinking the fact that he doesn’t have his cape is part of the reason he looks so downtrodden and defeated. Also, I think he’s disappointed that he’s not hanging with Leonardo, Shrek, The Hulk, and Reed Richards, as the packaging advertises. Not to mention he’s been clicking/punching the “VIEW THE TEASER TRAILER” link for hours and nothing is happening.

    Congratulations, The Manimal!

  • AdamX

    As somebody who has been to enough Dollar stores/gotten a few in his life. Seeing this article brings back memories…also please keep all sharp objects away from Superman. He looks to be throwing out critical red flags.

  • FangsFirst

    I love not only that Buzz’s eyes are ridiculous, but the cheerful expression that he keeps with his “I was hit in the face with a 2×4 and suffered brain damage” eyes.

    (and is his ‘helmet’ made out of plastic as thin/cheap as it looks? Like, thinner/weaker than $0.25 capsule plastic, but just stronger than window-box-toy plastic?)

  • Michael

    Boy, now I wish I had purchased that bootleg Spiderman figure in Istanbul. Turkey is even more confused than China. He was individually packaged with two spider logos on his chest, but it had Chris O’Donnell and George Clooney Batman and Robin and a Power Ranger picture on the package, and it was labelled “Superman.” At least I took a picture to prove it’s real…

  • Anthony

    @J The helmet is from the Shark Ranger from Power Rangers Wild Force, but the body is from Power Rangers Jungle Fury. What’s weird is that Jungle Fury also had a Shark Ranger but that’s clearly the Wild Force helmet. Weirder still both Shark Rangers are blue, not green.

  • Cricket

    My favorite part of the set is that they all have (except Buzz of course) the exact same body. The bootleggers just changed up the paint a bit and slapped on a mismatched head and called it a day. That screams Bizzaro to me and that is pure win in my book. :-)

  • Goob

    Bootleg toys are great to laugh at but please people do not buy them for your kids. They aren’t safety tested, and could have lead paint on them. Also you are funding criminals. And that just isn’t the right thing to do ok?

    I love Ashens videos. He is the best at reviewing bootleg toys and cheap tat as he calls it. Really pathetic items that you feel sorry for children if their parents buy it for them. He reviews a lot of blind bag toys too.

  • ShenaniTims

    You ned to pitch your Superfraud story idea to DC; such a thing could get me reading comics again.

    My brother sent me here, apparently I’ve been to the Englishtown flea market, but 28 years of life have made the memories dim. I think my mother might’ve worked at this one; perhaps I come from bootlegging stock.

    As for your wonder if the factory peons know they’re making bootlegs; I’m sure they do. Even factory hands will notice that one of Buzz’s legs isn’t getting painted. Of course, bootlegging is so prevalent in China that said workers probably aren’t ashamed by it.

    Lead paint for the kiddie toys? No problem when you have to stay inside because the air inside the city is unbreathable.

  • Traveling Pics

    I know what that Buzz is thinking: “Please, kill me”.

  • Harvey Dent

    I literally laughed my ass off at work reading this. Why two Spidemen? Horrible. Superman’s face, tragic….

  • Rein Engel

    I’m proud to be the third person to mention Dr. Ashen. That guy is not only hilarious with a great sense of timing, but he has incredible access to the most amazing garbage toys and electronics you’ll ever see. Search for him on YouTube and watch everything. Go. Now.

    “Oh hell, it’s the game where they pull their own arms off and throw them at each other.”