Today's Cheesy Knockoff is just one of a series of classy cheesy imitations
cranked out by Ja Ru, a Jacksonville Florida-based "rack-jobber"
who are one of the country's leading distributors of cheap toys to places
that don't normally carry toys at all. This particular example was found
at a five-and-dime store (yes there are still such things) on the dank
West side of Charleston West Virginia. Other versions of it have been
sighted all over the place, from dollar stores to grocery stores and
Our latest cheesy knockoff is called "Action Figure", one
of the "Action Figures" line of fine playthings. This is one
of several incarnations of the "Action Figures" line. In the
past, this generic, if colorful, card design has played host to a number
of knockoffs, including imitations of the 3 3/4" GI Joes, Star
Wars, and a comically bad rip-off of the ancient Coleco "Rambo"
line. They usually range from one to three bucks, all of them on this
bright, happy blister card. The example we've chosen for closer examination
is the "Space Fighter", a knockoff of the popular Power Rangers
This fella is notable because he has pretty much the same body as was
used on Formative International's short-lived 6-inch Soldiers of the
World, and Pocket Soldiers lines. It's not a bad body design, with ten
points of articulation. The interesting part is that when Formative
used these body molds, they dressed them in cloth outfits. Here, they're
buck naked! The clothing is painted on, and the helmets are molded-on
and therefore aren't removable. As a Power Ranger knockoff, these aren't
bad. They aren't in scale with any of the Ban Dai line, but they have
a certain cheap crappy charm to them. Part of the charm is that this
futuristic space fighter is toting two revolvers as his weapons.
Note that there are 12 "styles". What this means is that there
are 12 different paint schemes on the same figure. Some of them have
circles on their chest, while others have squares or triangles. The
figures are all the same, although there are reports that there is a
second headsculpt featuring a different type of helmet, so all you completists
out there...BE ON THE LOOKOUT!
Of course the main selling point of these guys is the wonderfully generic
logo. "Action Figures"--well, that sure as heck is what they
are! I'm just wondering if Ja Ru will ever release "Fashion Dolls'
or "Collectible Little Monsters". The sheer joy with which
that generic logo explodes across the blister card almost makes the
toy affixed to it seem mundane.
Well, it is pretty mundane, but hey, that's still a killer logo! Call
me goofy, but I think it's worth having just for the unadulterated generic
splendor that it is.