Cheesy Knockoff

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Cheesy Knockoff 10-014-02
By Rudy Panucci

This is a special update edition of Cheesy Toy Knockoffs! Rather than
bring you the latest odiferous hunks of "le toy de fromage", we're going to
update some recent developments concerning some of the past honorees that have come under our scrutiny. We'll also take a quick look at a company that's trying hard to be cheesy, but their figures are just too darn nice to qualify.

POWER TEAM ELITE

M&C Toy Centre backed into the 1/6 scale scene a few years ago with a
figure that belongs in the cheesy knockoff hall of fame. The first run of
Power Team featured stupid names (Hunter Man), a crappy imitation of the Classic Collection GI Joe body, lots of accessories featuring "borrowed" molds, and a headsculpt that was a dead ringer for the vintage GI Joe's eminently recognizable noggin.

From those humble beginnings have sprouted forth a line that is neither
cheesy, nor much of a knockoff. Going by the names "Power Team Elite"
and "World Peacekeepers", M&C has turned up the heat and is bringing us a full and diverse line of quality figures with great headsculpts, decent
vehicles, great accessories and a budget-friendly price point.

This year you can find many of the latest offerings from this line in Sears Wishbook, and at their website, and at Big Lots and Kay Bee Toys.
Sears is even offering a figure with a footlocker in both Caucasian and
African American versions. So congrats to M&C Toy Centre for graduating from the ranks of the cheesy knockoff. From now on you can read about these guys in the ACTION FIGURE ZONE!


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SUNNYSMILE?

Remember Strike Force? They were exceptionally cheesy figures with
somewhat neat, but still fairly cheesy vehicles. The figures were crap-not
even up to Ken standards, but the vehicles had a certain charm. These
were made by a company called "Sunnysmile" which earned them extra cheese points.

Well, Sunnysmile is no more. They closed up shop and sold all the Strike Force molds and trademarks to another company. Let us pause for a
moment and remember the plucky little toy company with the remarkably
inappropriate name. The new owner of Strike Force is a company called Peterkin UK, and they not only own Strike Force, but they also are the perpetrators of another cheesy knockoff, Power Force. And by extension, they're also related to the Dollar Tree figure from last year, Lt. Extreme.

Now, I'm not clear on whether Peterkin owns Power Force outright, or if
they only distribute them in the United Kingdom, but there is a link between
Strike Force and Power Force, and I'm running with it.

As for where you can find their cool selection of crappy toys,AP.that's a
tough question. JC Penny briefly had the Strike Force truck pictured on
their website, but they never took any orders for it and now it's not listed
anymore. They had a great price on it, too, less than 25 bucks, including a
figure. But unless something changes, we're not going to be able to get
that from them anytime soon.

Power Force is another matter. Wal Mart is carrying an item from them
called the "Blitz Heroes Traveler Combo", which sounds more like an entry
at a German diner than a toy, but it's actually pretty cool. For fifteen bucks
you get a big plastic exo-skeleton thingy that makes noise and walks.
It's available in three colors, all of which are covered in really cheap-looking stickers. You also get a ton of accessories, and a new and mproved crappy figure. This updated Power Force figure bears the legend " © 2002 Toy Century Industrial Co. Ltd.", which is a sign that either Peterkin uses more than one name, or that they're just handling these figures in Europe. Either way, there are some interesting developments on the Peterkin UK/Strike Force/Power Force front, and we may be taking another look at them in a few weeks.

AH,..MISTER SPARKLE!

Last on our cheesy update is an action figure company that has never
actually turned up in this column. It's a product of a company that made
a huge cheesy splash at Toy Fair, but now that their product is out, it's
proven to be pretty cool stuff.

First off though, the cheese,..The company is called "Eversparkle",
which immediately calls to mind the episode of "The Simpsons" where Homer finds a Japanese detergent with his picture on the box, and then learns that the mascot, "Mister Sparkle" is not a drawing of him, but rather a combination of a fish and a light bulb. Anyway, they get cheese points for having nearly as bad a name as "Sunnysmile".

On top of that, they showed a line of figures, playsets and vehicles at
Toy Fair under the name "Army of One", which is a trademark of the US
Army. The figures they showed were almost all easily identifiable as Hasbro products. With nothing in the stores yet, they already had a reputation for playing fast and loose with the concept of intellectual property. When the action figure line hit retail, it was simply labeled "Army", since they'd apparently become educated about trademark laws, but that rather generic moniker has changed recently.

Needless to say, folks who saw their displays at various Toy Fairs had
very low expectations. When their first product showed up in stores,
however, collectors were treated to a surprise. The figure was newly-designed and pretty darn good. It features double-jointed Dragon-style
arms and legs, and a simplified swivel torso. The headsculpt is really
nicely done, too. These first showed up as part of the "Forward Command Post" playset, which came with the figure, a ton of accessories of variable but generally good quality, and a two-story building that is a little on the cheesy side. Since then, the figure (easily the best part of the set) has shown up at Kay Bee Toys for $7.99 and at BJ's Wholesale in a killer deal with four figures for fifteen bucks.

There's still some cheesiness with this line, but it's mostly with the packaging and accessories. The Forward Command Post has already had its packaging redesigned to feature a predominately green look with a new umbrella name-"Elite Military Operations". Quite an improvement.

So these guys are going to dodge the bullet, so to speak. The action figures are not cheesy enough to be an official "Cheesy Toy Knockoff", even though all indications were that they were really going to stink up the place.

That's it for this Cheesy Toy Knockoff update special! Next week we're
going to answer the question "What happened to those old Soldiers Of the
World molds?"

Later, Rudy