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.