The bootleg toy is a joy that some people just don't get. When I titter
over poorly vacuum formed action figures with useless accessories, a lot
of people just shake their heads and wonder what I get out of making fun
of toys presumably aimed at underpriveliged children. First and most obviously,
is the way that the makers oh so subtly try to copy popular toys then slap
a generic name or title on them. GI Joe becomes THE CORPS! or SOLDIER FORCE.
Well, technically, GI Joe ends up becoming a lot of things. In their zeal
to do something original so they can't be accused of making a direct copy,
we get all sorts of wonderful variations and extra weapons and accessories
that the figure can't even actually use. My favorite extras include:
The Motorcycle- My comrade in Odd Lots bargain bin diving
and I came to a stunning revelation while looking over some of the more
generic action figures. The SWAT team, some 'Terrorists,' even a team of
Ninja were all packed with motorcycles. And, on closer observation- the
SAME motorcycle with different paint jobs from package to package. Cost
cutting measure or simply a world where Ninja style bikes monopolize the
markets for the military, organized crime, and police forces alike?
THE MILITARY KAYAK!- I shitteth thee not, sir. The Military
Kayak is only called as such in its deluxe size (big enough for one of those
'classic' Joes), but also makes downsized appearances with the
ninja and barbarian playsets. Maybe kayaks are a valuable asset to some
military branches, I'm no expert in obscure guerilla tactics. It just seems
that a tiny boat that traps the soldier's lower body inside with a rubber
cuff thing, and keeps both his hands busy with an oar is not the ideal conveyance.
USELESS WEAPONS!- A surprisingly common practice involves
the toy maker inserting an extra sword, or machine gun or something with
a handle that renders it unusable by the figure. Especially if the extra
object makes NO sense in context, like Street Fighter knockoffs that come
with assault rifles, or a closed-fisted mech with a big crappy chrome sword.
Today's finds were most fortunate: a half-priced Energon Megatron (The
most show accurate G1 Galvatron mold, oddly enough), a six-dollar Alternator,
and a brand spankin' new batch of Machine Robo knockoffs. In particular,
these "Robot Transformables" are based off the recent/current
Mugenbine line, which is a rather interesting, if goofy concept. Each mech
is based off of 1) A letter of the alphabet, 2) an animal that doesn't coincide
with the letter, and 3) a vehicle. All at the same time. So, naturally,
and because lionhead chestplates are badass, I started by nabbing A, which
I guess stands for 'lion' in Japan.
Actually, he's supposed to be "AirLeon," but who
cares? Like the others, he consists of a pretty basic 'core' robot whom
you attach a series of extra components to in order to 'transform' him.
So it's really as much a 'transformation' as making shit out of Legos, or
dressing yourself. But it's still kind of cool, since the bits are interchangeable
with other Mugenbine. Also at lower right, note that he really does
come with an assault rifle that he can't hold, having no hands or really,
proper arms. He also, baffingly, has a pair of shrunken, 'solid' Drill
Robo drones for legs.
The very first thing I noticed upon opening it up, was that
the two displaced Drillbots are completely hollow from behind.
Truly, the four bucks I spent on something to inspire me to go on endlessly
about nothing special were invested well. It did surprise me a bit by being
made of slightly sturdier stuff than the previous experiments, even if it
did still flake off more than a little on the first attempt at changing/moving
anything. Also, of course a paintjob I probably coulda done better on. The
arms were rooted stiffly at the sides, unable to move at all until they
got unplugged halfway.
Basically everything red up there comes off, leaving the blue
main body. Of course, the blue main body looks a bit off considering everything
else is red, in fact the stickers on its legs indicate that it's not the
lion at all but "CARRYEAGLE." So I guess C is for "Lion"
now. He does have the right head. Also, there's the little matter of him
being completely missassembled (inside out legs, backwards head, so on.)
It was all just screwed together, so it was easy to fix and start pinning
shit together. His 'transformation' consists of folding everything up into
a cube that's supposed to have a large "M" on the front, of course
due to sloppy paint it looks like a translucent "V" with square
stickers slapped on. M IS FOR LION TOO. And EAGLE. Oh yeah, and in a surprising
touch, there's an extra 'helmet' that covers the normal bot head so it stays
proportionately bigger when Legobined up.
I tried Lion mode first since if something busted in transformation
that's the one I was going to leave it in (Assuming I keep it longer than
I did Drill.) It's like I said before, the boxy little robot folds in on
itself, then the stuff that handles the actual 'change' is slapped haphazardly
all over its many pegs. It's kind of like an unholy mix of Lego technology,
a Go-Bot, and toxic styrene. Surprisingly, it holds together. Well! Holding
together at all is usually impressive enough for this stuff. The tail is
an upside down jet nosecone, and the mane looks a little off since it has
a couple pretty obvious tailfins sticking up off the sides. The mouth opens
and closes and has a halfassed layer of white paint on it, combined with
the red base color makes it look like it just had a nice gory snack. Of
course, the whole look is thrown off by the mismatched torso block being
bright blue. Whoops. No obvious weapons in this form, of course it's a LION,
so it's safe to assume he still kicks ass. I guess.
Jet Mode was probably an afterthought. It looks like a blue
square with a nosecone, and the arms and legs arranged in a wingy/thrustery
way. Really, any random assortment of parts could pass as a jet as long
as it's vaguely triangular and gets a cockpit painted somewhere.
As far as bootlegging goes, this was a bit of a surprise.
It's still made of cheap, rough plastic, but sturdy and actually has universal
joints on the legs. One of the upsides to the whole knockoff thing is it
makes some overseas figures easier to get a replica of, and it's it's of
decent quality (which is rare, mind) can save you trips to import shops
and ebay. I can actually kind of reccomend the Mugen knockoffs based on
the Airleon here, and they seem like they'd be more fun with more parts
to rearrange. So if you need to buy a present for some kid but don't wanna
pay much, hit up the dollar store.
They're educational too! A is for lion! B is for Giraffe!