Cheesy Toy Knockoff by Rudy Panucci
Listen up, children, as I tell you the terrifying tale of the WORST CHEESY GI JOE KNOCKOFF EVER!!
There are many factors that contribute to the cheesiness of a knockoff, and sometimes you come across one that's just scores so high in all those factors that it only takes one extra element of awfulness to make it singularly memorable.
This is the story of one such knockoff-- A little fella by the name of "America's Bravest". He's part of a line of toys that consist of three series, "Fire Series", "Police Series" and "Military Series". The example I picked up is from the Military Series.
He's so cheesy that I don't know where to begin. I suppose that it's best to tell you where I found him. Longtime readers of mine who remember the old "Cheesy Knockoff Of The Month" column in TOY TRADER Magazine may recall an epic edition of that column wherein I told of my legendary quest to find Major Gil Jones, a GI Joe knockoff made by the Totsy Toy Company. Part of that quest led me to a chain of stores known as "Fruth Pharmacy", which is a collection of independent West Virginia drug stores. Nice little places, they have a decent, funky toy section.
Late in October, I was driving by one of these stores and felt a sort of a "calling", if you will. My Cheesy Knockoff Radar went off big time, and I acted on it. I made an unscheduled stop and zeroes in on the toy section at Fruth. Much to my surprise, I found not one, but TWO cheesy GI Joe knockoffs. One of them you'll read about next week, but the real find was "AMERICA'S BRAVEST"---a knockoff that is cheesy all over, yet has that one outstanding feature of cheesiness that is so remarkable that it earns this hunk o' plastic the title (Get your "Comic Book Guy voice ready) "Worst Cheesy GI JOE Knockoff Ever!".
So, you ask, what's so cheesy about this guy?
Let me count the ways. For starters, he comes in a generic-looking box that has the Logo, UPC code and "Made In China" stuff printed on it in full color, but the distributor's name is on a one-color sticker-one on the front and one on the back. "RO-EL Enterprises, Anaheim CA 92806". Okay, fair enough. Maybe other distributors are buying the same toy and distributing it to other dinky drugstore chains, but this is all I have to work with. RO-El is probably just a rackjobber who slapped his sticker on the box. Or he could be Superman's cousin. I'm not sure.
Beyond the cheesiness of the packaging, which also features photos of the other figures in the line, we find the figure itself. Before we get to that, I should mention that all the figures were available in Caucasian and African-American versions-something that many cheesy knockoffs don't bother with. America's Bravest is an equal-opportunity offender.
The figure is outstandingly craptacular! We're talking blow-molded soft plastic with seven whole points of articulation. He's hollow. He weighs about an ounce, undressed. To his credit, the figure does have brown gloved hands molded separately. Most figures this cheaply made just have Ken-style hands molded with the arms. Aside from that, and a ludicrously buff sculpt, this figure is made just like the very cheapest of Barbie and Ken knockoffs that you might find at an "All for a dollar" store.
He's so poorly made that I could only get him to stand on his own for a few seconds while shooting the photos for this piece. He kept falling over. One leg is shorter than the other and curves inward. There are no markings of any sort on the figure or any accessories. Would you put your name on this sad item?
The headsculpt is pretty bad, not unlike a SunnySmile figure's head on a bad day. The one I picked up has camo paint covering his face. While I generally don't care for that, in this case it's an improvement.
But it's not just his body that stinks---his accessories are pretty questionable too. His outfit is cheesy-knockoff styled camo on very thin material with Velcro closures. His helmet is not totally horrible, but it sports a "toy" camo paint job and the chinstrap, which is decent-looking, doesn't fit around his chin. He also comes with a passable pair of una-boots, a soft rubber sci-fi-looking machine gun, a rubber western-style holster belt and revolver, an ammo strip that only fits around his waist, ear protection, binoculars, a knife (all badly made) and lastly, an American flag, printed on only one side of a piece of white cloth, with a quarter-inch border around it. The flag is on a pole about four and a half inches long.
Yes, you may feel, he's cheesy, but what makes him the WORST CHEESY GI JOE KNOCKOFF EVER?
I'm getting to that, but first let's compare him to other recent cheesy knockoffs. He has a cheap blow-molded body, the likes of which haven't been seen on a GI Joe knockoff that costs more than a couple of bucks for years. His outfit is bad. It's not even as well-made as the latest round of "Lt. Extreme" Figures from Dollar Tree. The accessories he comes with are pretty crappy too, even by knockoff standards, and his American flag is badly made with a short pole. Yet, he comes in a larger than usual package with full-color graphics. There's not a single item included with him that any customizer should have even a passing interest in.
So what is the one outstanding feature that makes this Cheesy Toy Knockoff stand head and shoulders above all other knockoffs on crappy toy mountain? What is the extra element of egregiousness that earns this figure the vaunted title of ultimate knockoffular crapttitude?
It's the price.
Please, children, don't do what I have done. I took a bullet for you guys with this one. Do not feel compelled to go out and buy this figure, at least not at the price I paid. I am a professional knockoff aficionado and I do things like this so that you won't have to.
At Fruth Pharmacy, this guy was $12.99. Yes, you read that right. He cost thirteen bucks. You can get a REAL GI JOE for half that! I paid THIRTEEN FREAKIN' BUCKS for a figure that, in all honesty, isn't worth a dollar!
I mean, what the heck were they thinking? How many people can there be out there who are writing about crappy toys that would buy one of these things? Certainly nobody else would pick up one of these. I hope no parent buys one of these for a kid. Wouldn't that be child abuse?
I'm left to wonder if maybe this is some kind of Cyber-Hobby Exclusive Knockoff that somehow found it's way to Fruth Pharmacy. That would explain why it cost thirteen times what it's worth! You have to admire the person who decided to try and sell these for that price. Forget asking how he sleeps, I'm wondering how he gets his pants on with cajones that big. "America's Bravest" must refer to the salesman who placed these in stores at that price, not the figures themselves.
This is one knockoff that you can avoid at all costs, especially if the cost is thirteen bucks!
Next week we'll look at his shelfside companion, "The Finest", which is nearly as crappy, but only cost one-third as much as this uniquely awful Cheesy Knockoff!