Ever notice how some knock-off toys are way cooler than their inspirations? Take Madballs, for example. There ain’t a single official Madball that I wouldn’t marry on a Hawaiian beach, but the bootlegs are so much better, what with their cruder charms and misapplied eye paint. Maybe I just like broken things.
…and here’s more proof!
Get a load of Mini Pocket Beast, a small, strangely-titled line of Mighty Max ripoffs, likely from the mid ‘90s.
Mighty Max is an incredible toy line filled with many macabre wonders, but I don’t see how any objective person could put it ahead of Mini Pocket Beast. These toys may lack a certain degree of craftsmanship, but they’re just so creatively bizarre.
Let’s start with the packaging. Shit looks like the facade of a scary ride from a berserk fever dream in a terrible movie. So now I know my precise aesthetic.
I’m especially fond of the zombie version of King Tut’s sarcophagus, which narrowly tops Disco Death Snake as the the next thing I have to draw.
Even an ordinarily plain rat creature is given more to work with, here. Notice how he’s wearing one of J. Peterman’s fabled parkas. It’s like some artist wrote down a hundred ideas, and then let a five-year-old decide how to make each one of them more awesome. The gamble paid off.
There were four different playsets available (two per package), sized to compete with Mighty Max’s Shrunken Heads collection.
Judging by outward appearances, we have a clear winner in Frigid Cyclops With Snake In Mouth, so named for several obvious reasons.
The playset themes range from the expected to the absolutely absurd, or more accurately begin with the expected and then spend 800 years at the absolutely absurd. Holy shit, these are so incredibly weird.
Ironically, Frigid Cyclops With Snake In Mouth has the least interesting playset… even if it’s hard to call a grave-robbing sphinx/mummy hybrid the “least interesting” anything.
Next we have the green snake head and its unexpected treasures, including a figure that seems to represent an anthropomorphized bear with a sun for a head. All Sunbear can really do is trip over snakes or worship the T-1000 version of Cthulhu, but I suppose two hobbies are better than none.
The grey rat head really overachieved with its playset. If I have this right, it’s a heroic rodent squaring off against an evil skeleton over a bed of apple cores, lettuce leaves and rat droppings. You might predict victory for the giant skeleton, but take note of his IV pole — he’s not at 100%.
Last we have the brownish warthog head. Who could’ve predicted a spider-themed playset? Join this stocky arachno-man as he attempts to save his web from an enormous cockroach lady. Look at that playset, and notice how by the time you’re ready to stop looking at it, it’s 2018.
So yeah, don’t knock the knock-offs and don’t boo the bootlegs. They may break easily and they may be lead-laden, but they may also let you imagine a world where spider people battle cockroach people inside of warthog heads.