Cheesy Knockoff

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Cheesy Toy Knockoff-2004-02 June 15, 2004

By Rudy Panucci

BATTLE OF THE BLOW-MOLDED BEHEMOTHS

Okay, part of my job scouring the world for Cheesy Toy Knockoffs involves looking at several sets of diverse sets of scientific criteria to determine if a certain candidate is, in fact, a Cheesy Toy Knockoff.

Not really. I just have to find stuff that's copied from a popular toy, is cheesy enough to be funny, and if it's cheap, that's even better!

This time, we've got a duel. A true battle for craptitudinal supremacy, fought on many fronts. The two action figures we're looking at are 12" knockoffs of the GI Joe format, cranked out in the cheapest production method available-blow molding-and they face off in a particularly interesting manner. They are both among the cheapest 12" figures I've ever encountered. As for who wins, I'll let you decide. These are both stellar Cheesy Knockoffs, standing head and shoulders on the smoldering heap of Cheesy Knockoffs.

First up, we have the cleverly-named "ACTION FIGURE", which I found at one of those stores where everything costs a dollar. This fellow is a marvel of under achievement. Not content with his status as a dollar-store item, he raises the bar of cheesiness by lowering the bar on quality. The manufacturer (anonymous, of course) has taken the very cheapest Ken doll knockoff headsculpt, put him in the uniform of a soldier, policeman, or "rescue" guy, and slapped him in a box with very poorly-made clothes and goofy accessories. Oddly enough, this guy has a pretty buff, newly-sculpted body. The body might make for a decent uniform dummy, if only the legs were fully-formed. This thing has extra plastic flash around the ankles, but there are holes in the feet where the plastic didn't get completely blown into the mold.

The figure has five whole points of articulation (thighs, shoulders, neck), a headsculpt that betrays his grinning, fashion-doll origins, and nothing else. His grip can't hold anything. He's blow-molded, remember, and weighs about an ounce. The material that his outfits are made of is even lighter. I've got paper more substantial than this stuff. It's a plastic-rayon type material that's so thin it's nearly translucent. Velcro is used instead of snaps, which would probably tear the material anyway. Belts have a fake buckle, and close in the back with Velcro. The vest on the rescue guy is so lightweight that you can blow it across the room by breathing on it.

The accessories look like whatever they had laying around the factory. The boots are decent and would work as an ultra-cheap replacement for vintage Joes, if only it weren't for the last ten years of Hasbro making high-quality reproductions themselves. It's hard to get excited about things like these nowadays.

The rescue guy comes with the aforementioned lighter-than-air vest, an axe, a hammer, and a little first aid kit that says "AMBULANCE" on it. The policeman comes with a rifle rubber-banded to his arm, and helmet that looks like a blue eye-wash cup. The soldier also has a rifle rubber-banded to his arm, and sports a more traditional helmet, with no straps or details of any sort.

This thing actually comes in a box. The graphics are lame and generic, but that's wholly appropriate here, as the figures are lame and generic, too.

"Action Figure" scores cheese points for not having a manufacturer listed on the box, the low quality of the figure and accessories, the low, low price (a single buck, each) and extra points for bearing the slogan, "COLLECTABLE ALL SERIES" no less than eight times on the box. At a buck apiece, we can "collectable" them all for only a few dollars.

This is not the only dollar-store 12" figure out there. In the past we've written about "Lt. Extreme", the guy from Dollar Tree with more solid construction and articulation, but in terms of being cheap, AND looking cheap, "Action Figure" is hard to beat.

But we might have beaten him. And we found the next guy at Wal Mart, of all places. While just glancing in the super-cheap-O toy aisle at Wal Mart (and not all of them have these), looking for party favors for my niece, I was stunned to come face-to-face with "Special Forces", a 12" GI Joe knockoff!

He was crappy, no doubt, obviously blow-molded, blister-packed on a very generic blue-and-white card with odd accessories of varying scales. He was offered in two varieties-helmet or beret. The helmeted guy came with misshapen wire cutters, a tiny M-16, and an even tinier shotgun. The beret guy came with a futuristic laser pistol, some kind of space rifle, and a very very tiny thing that I think is supposed to be a traffic sign, but it's less than an inch tall.

Extra points go to this guy because of his low price, that oddball sign-thing, and the daintiness of his body. He does have one more point of articulation at his waist, but it's extra cheesy because the joint is sloppy and it makes him lean to one side. He also has some molding problems in his legs, but not to the extent that "Action Figure" does. Also, the skin tone of his body does not match that of his head.

Both guys come with a plastic belt with a holster molded-on, and a camouflage jumpsuit-made of cloth, but with Velcro closures. His boots are too small to use on a vintage GI Joe. Despite having a more battle-worn face, the Special Forces body-also blow-molded with five points of articulation-is much more dainty, than that of "Action Figure". No manufacturer is listed, but he's distributed by Wal Mart.

The shocker with this guy? His price! Special Forces is only 88 cents, making him the absolute cheapest 12" GI Joe knockoff that I've come across so far.

So, head-to-head, in this battle of crappy figures, we may have a draw. "Action Figure" is clearly more hapless when it comes to the lame headsculpt and cheap clothing, but "Special Forces" has a more dainty body and is twelve cents cheaper! When you compare accessories, it seems that "Action Figure" is the clear winner in terms of cheesiness…until you get to that weird little street sign thing with "Special Forces". What the heck is it supposed to be?

It's a toss-up, a cheesy, crappy toss-up. I can't make up my mind, so until I find a clear winner, these blow-molded blow monkeys will share the crown and title of "Cheapest, cheesy knockoff of GI Joe".

Next up, we look at a knockoff of another knockoff and find out what happens when a retailer decides to rip off one of the less-expensive vendors.

Later, Rudy