My Turn to Review Knockoff Toys

I was feeling pretty chipper this morning on my way home, so after lunch I decided to partake in my latest loserly habit: pointing and laughing at Hong Kong'd toys in the back of Big/Odd Lots (The store's two alternating names gives you a good idea of what sort of quality overstocked trash they carry.) Usually it's a good way to kill anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Depends mainly on what's left over from the holiday season (of 1992) and how quickly a clerk eyeballs me and my friends out after laughing like idiots in the kiddies section for too long.

Maybe it's mean spirited. I'm sure some Taiwanese shopkeeper stayed up late pouring metallic paint into a batch of Fun Time Wind Up Insect, then going into Canon Greeting Card Maker and changing the name of the product to METAL SPACE BUGZZ. Or an Indian woman tirelessly working around the clock to reverse-engineer the Constructicons in rainbow colors. Most of these companies rely on the latter method of making crude simulacra of existing toys, usually shrunk or blown WAY up in an attempt to make them look less transparent as ripoffs. Oh yeah, and horrifically inaccurate paint jobs are usually factored in.

Japanese super robots are especially susceptible to copying, since the target audience (gullible suburbanites with grubby impulsive kids) is even less likely to care about the difference. Hence my discover of Dagwon's Fire Dagwon and GaoGaiGar's Enryu buried amongst the 'HOT WHEELZ' and similar knockoffs, repackaged as SPACE WARRIOR.

SPACE WARRIOR Fire Dagwon comes first. I think the original was supposed to have an ambulance and a fire engine for the hands, as opposed to two blocky vans. The main body is cunningly disguised as an airliner with two giant legs on the bottom and a case of scoliosis. It's as graceful and aerodynamic as a dead camel. It didn't take much coaxing to get this one or Bastard Enryu off their packages, they were already sort of halfway there and slid clean off. If we were talking about cooking ribs, that'd be a good thing. There was a second Fire Dagwon there with black and red arms, prepackaged as a robot.

Transforming a knock-off is like a thrill ride. You just KNOW something is going to snap off or explode spontaneously. So as I finagled the legs into position and somehow transformed the backpack all the way (which is more than the packaged-in-bot-mode version had) little bits of blue and white excess plastic molding snowed off of it. Next step: Yank the entire cockpit section off, split it in half, and stick it on as shoulders. They do kind of droop, though. His robot head has either a mongoloid chin or a colossal pout. I wonder if Fire Dagwon looks so depressed because between the airliner and rescue vehicles, he's like a walking 9/11 tribute.

He's the sensitive SPACE WARRIOR.

The pegs the arms go into are too small, so it takes some cramming to hook them on. I only jammed them in about halfway since I may want to remove them one day. The coup de grace is the large red portion that fits onto the fuselage. This is just my opinion, but somehow having an extra part that makes up more than half of the body kind of defeats the purpose of a Transforming Space Warrior. More like Quadraparalegic SPACE WARRIOR. The head can fold down into the chest, if you want to make the red piece look like a chest and crotch, flying through space. He also comes with a pair of little white swords that were the only objects even remotely secured to the package, by little strips of tape.

Awww Yeeeeeah

SPACE WARRIOR Bastard Enryu seems popular with the ladies on the bookshelf. You wouldn't expect it, what with his permanently akimbo arms and crack-addict red eyes. Still, it's an ok robot mode, good stand in for the budget GGG fan. A few dabs of paint here and there, trim off some of the spots where jagged bits of excess plastic stick out threatening to pierce your skin and poison you eight ways from Sunday, and he'd be a good display piece. Let's see that fire engine mode.

Oh. Wow. ...Holy shit. That is NOT a fire engine. Bastard Enryu's alternate mode seems to be more than a little pornographic. Yes, the Power Ladder is hooked onto his crotch as he lies back on his elbows, staring intently downward. There's a part to slide the upper legs forward some so the front and back wheels at least line up, but considering that he's completely hollow, that can only lead to the aforementioned snap-ouch-now I have been poisoned scenario. Oddly there's a joint to swing the legs out to the sides, but the feet are bolted together so it can't actually move them. Er, back to slightly less disturbing robot mode.

The moral for today: Why buy a factory-sealed mint in box toy on ebay for 300 bucks, when gypsies have a pocket-sized flimsier version for under two bucks? Quality, pshaw.


Space Warrior. Please note that neither fire engines or airliners are particularly space worthy. Or battle-ready.