Cheesy Knockoff

email rudy

Cheesy Knockoff #13 by Rudy Panucci

Hey, It's only a freakin' buck!

Last time we treated you to the story of Power Force, a new, minor player on the imitation 12" GI Joe scene. This week, we get to meet someone remarkable---a knockoff of a knockoff---Lt. Extreme.

You may remember that name from the last installment of this column. We know that whoever made Power Force for Big Lots and K Mart has used that name. Well, it turns out that they've used it again, only this time they've applied it to a product found in one of Big Lots sister stores-Dollar Tree.

Yep, Dollar Tree, one of those stores where everything costs a buck, and a place I haunt regularly looking for cheesy knockoffs. For the first time in ten years, we had a fully dressed 12" GI Joe knockoff FOR ONLY A BUCK! ONE DOLLAR! TEN DIMES!

Ten years ago, it was "Combat Man", which was just a blow-molded Ken knockoff dressed in a one-piece jumpsuit with Velcro, and badly-made boots, helmet and rifle. It was amazing back then, because some of the boots were usable on vintage Joes, and the helmets were quaint, but it wasn't anything to write home about. I probably picked up a dozen, just in case they never made any 1/6 scale Joe stuff again.

But now, ten years after those guys made the dollar store rounds, we had Lt. Extreme, with seven points of articulation, a decently made outfit (three different) and boots that snapped together to get around the fact that his ankles were rigid. Not at all bad for a buck. He's certainly more impressive than a twenty-minute phone call, anyway.

But what do you get for a buck---a piece of crap, of course. The body molds are obviously derivative of the Power Force body, but corners are cut, even after starting out that low. There is no flexible plastic used here. The entire body is made of rigid plastic-sort of like that used on a CD case. The hands, which are made like HOF-styled grips, can't hold anything, and the head, made with that cheap-o plastic, just looks odd. He's of little use for anything besides launching with a kite or blowing up with fireworks.

The body is overly muscular, just like Power Force, and you're risking breaking something if you put any decent boots on him.

Humorously enough, the left and right upper arms are the same mold. They didn't bother to distinguish between them. The same is true for the left and right thighs, and lower legs. Since the ankles aren't articulated, and the plastic is rigid, they had no choice but to make the boots each in two pieces that snap onto the foot. The bodies are a vast improvement over the old blow-molded Ken guys, but they're still pretty awful. What do expect for a buck, Dragon quality?

The outfits aren't bad, but they look a tad non-military, with two-tone camo and non-camo designs. They're well worth the dollar if you want them for a paramilitary group figure. They wouldn't look out of place on bad guys in an "Our Man Flint" diorama.

The problem with these guys is that they're so cheap that you feel bad not picking up a few, even if you have no use for them. I guess that's a remnant of surviving the "Great 12" GI Joe Depression" of 1978 to 1992. Hey, they're only a buck, and you never know when all this great 1/6 scale stuff is going to suddenly disappear, leaving us trying to paint Barbie cars Olive Drab again.

You know that the hobby is doing pretty well when the knockoffs are down to a buck. Even if they aren't very good. I will say this: They're well worth the dollar!

Next time. A Joe Knockoff at Rite Aid.