Cheesy Knockoff

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Cheesy Toy Knockoff
by Rudy Panucci

Okay, after years spent keeping track of cheesy knockoffs of the 12” GI Joe, I have to give some equal time to the 3 3/4” Joes, and bring you one of the cheesiest knockoffs of recent times, EXTREME TROOP.

 There have been countless knockoffs of the small GI Joes over the years.  Heck, some of the imitation lines are still going strong.   Lanard’s “C.O.R.P.S.” figures have survived twice when the Hasbro RAH Joes have gone on hiatus.  In order to catch my eye, a knockoff of a 3 3/4” GI Joe is going to have to be particularly outstandingly cheesy.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!  EXTREME TROOP turned up at Value City just in time for the Christmas 2003 shopping season (we have quite a backlog here at Cheesy Knockoff Central), and at first glance, they look almost exactly like the 3 3/4” RAH GI Joe.

It’s the second glance that’ll get ‘em every time.

 But first, the particulars:  EXTREME TROOP is a product of Agglo, one of the cheapest and cheesiest of toy companies.  The full name on the package is “EXTREME TROOP Counter-terrorist Units”.  A blurb announces “SPECIAL FORCES AGAINST TERRORISM” and a banner informs us “THE EXTREME TROOPS ARE CHOSEN FROM AMONG THE WORLD’S ULTRA EXPERTS IN THE MILITARY ARTS AND SPECIALIST TO MAINTAIN PEACE AGAINST ROGUE NATIONS”.  A box in the upper left corner of the card tells us that this is a “FULLY POSABLE ACTION FIGURE”, and is accompanied by what looks like a Stikfa doing the boogie-down.   That last claim is pretty funny, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

If it were only the goofy wording on the package, this little blister-packed wannabe would not have made the cheesy cut.  These figures are notable because they are almost perfect copies of the classic RAH GI Joes.   I mean these things look like they were made from stolen molds, or at least re-cast from the actual figures.  There is one catch, though, that makes the latter scenario more likely.  

These figures have almost no articulation.  They only move at the neck, shoulders, and hips, and those movements are limited by the crappy manufacturing.   However, they look deceiving in the package, because most of them have what look like joints, sculpted into their static limbs at the waist, knees ,and elbows.   Their arms are permanently akimbo and, on many of the figures, can’t clear the legs.   The range of movement in the legs is quite limited, basically allowing them only to do a goose-step, and nothing more.   Any kid, excited at the prospect of getting close copies of classic RAH figures for only 99 cents each, is going to be very disappointed. 

Seriously, the only pose you can put them in is a Frankenstein stagger with their arms held straight out in front of them.   THIS, is what they call “fully posable”?   Fake joints do not articulation make.

 And when I say “close copies”, I’m not kidding!  Hasbro ought to be suing Agglo into oblivion over these actionable figures.   There are ten figures in the series, and every one of them is a clearly recognizable copy of a best-selling RAH figure.  Not only that, but they made an attempt to mimic the file cards from the original RAH line.   Each figure comes with a playing-card-sized card with their picture on it--printed only on one side.  Curiously, none of the figures have names, but the back of the package gives us a little profile of each character, and a country of origin. 

Also curiously, all of the figures are good guys, even the ones that are clearly swiped from Cobra figures.   The copyright on these is 2002, and the word “terrorist” is all over the package.  I guess they didn’t want to risk any 9 11 backlash.

The ten figures, which I will identify by the GI Joe from which they are brazenly stolen, are as follows:

The first figure, I believe swiped from Shipwreck with Snake Eyes head,  is said to hail from Italy His weapon is a “Bayonet Mine” and his specialty is Amphibious warfare.

The Flint knockoff is listed as being British.  His weapon is the Gatling Gun and Browning. He’s part of the Advanced Detachment, which is sorta ironic, given that he uses a hundred-year-old gun.

The other Flint knockoff is supposed to be Canadian. Not only is he based on the same figure, he’s got the same weapons and specialty.  Geez, don’t knock yourself out, Agglo.

A Snake Eyes copy with a green paint scheme is listed as being from Mexico.  His weapons are “Hand Grenade” and “AK47”.  This guy is part of the “Dare To Die Corps”, which seems to be a bit defeatist, if you ask me.

Spain is the home of the Snake Eyes guy dressed all in black.  This Snake Eyes uses the “Microbe Bomb” (Isn’t that more of a bad guy weapon?), and is listed as a Guerilla. 

From obscure-figure land, we have Law and his dog Order, who hail from Germany.  His weapons are listed as “Dog, Machine Gun”.  His specialty is “Fortification”, which at first glance looks like “Fornication”, which makes the inclusion of the dog really, really creepy.

At least they let General Hawk be from the USA.  He uses an M 16 and a “Pyrotechnics Bomb” ,which I guess means he works backstage for KISS.  Headquartered in Washington D.C., he’s a member of the Jungle Force.

Stormshadow is  good guy from Japan in this twisted toy universe. His weapons are “Canister Shot” and “Sader”.  Sader is a Muslim holy book, so either they mis-spelled “Sabre” or he whacks his enemies with a wordy tome.  He’s a martial artist.

Cobra Commander is a good guy from Brazil.  It’s good that he’s a good guy, because his weapon is “Nuclear Weapon”.  And it’s a good thing they told us what it was, because I couldn’t figure out what those pieces of plastic were supposed to be.  I was thinking they were something obscene.

Finally, the Baroness is on our side, despite the Cobra symbols on her sleeves.  We have to be suspicious though, she is listed as being French.  Her weapon is a “Double-Barreled Pistol”, which I think may not be a firearm of recent vintage.  Her specialty is listed as “Commands Troop”, so I guess the lone female of the bunch is the boss.  Well, looks like they managed to get one thing right.

From the look of these figures, I’d say it’s a safe bet that they either paid some poor guy a pittance to resculpt them, or they just pressed the Hasbro figures into clay, and cast them from the result.  They look that bad.   But they are close enough copies that Hasbro ought to be sending a cease-and-desist order to Agglo, that is, if they don’t get nailed for false advertising over the claim that these are “fully posable”. 

Let's not forget the paint job.  It's sloppy, but not abysmal.  They probably used lead-based paint.

Despite all the craptitude of this product, the packaging is fairly darned elaborate.  The figure is double-blistered on a card printed in full color, front and back.  In addition to the crappy figure, you also get an assortment of hard-to-identify crappy accessories.   You can try to match the weapons up to what’s listed on the back of the card, but..well, good luck on that. 

So, to wrap it up, cheap, crappy, actionable and still not worth the money.  This is one knockoff that’s hitting on all the cheesy cylinders.