by Meghan Duffy
Go onto eBay right now and search for Pokemon figures. You’ll find page upon page of listings for “144 pcs Pokemon Monster Action Figures” or “HOT 24 PCS Random 2-3cm Lovely Pokemon Monster Action Mini Pearl Figures Toys” usually coming at you straight from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. The prices are low, ranging from $15 to $30 plus shipping for 144 tiny plastic toys. The pictures are all the same, oceans of toys that look okay from afar, only to show imperfections and shoddy paint jobs up close. Just what makes China such a bootleg powerhouse that sells these little plastic monsters for pennies?
That goes down to the enforcement of IP law in China, or rather, the lack thereof. China technically has laws in place to enforce IP protection; in fact it has several. Yet these laws are hardly enforced and because of that, bootlegging is rampant in China. According to a report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, almost 70% of all counterfeits seized globally from 2008 to 2010 come from China. That is a mind boggling amount.
Now to be fair to China, they have done a few seizures and raids of factories that produce counterfeits. However, it feels more like they are trying to save face and say “look, we’re totally following the laws and cracking down on bootleggers,” more than them actually caring about the laws. They’re putting a bootlegged bandaid on a fault line, solving nothing.
So why are there so many bootlegged Pokemon toys on the market specifically? It’s probably a similar reason as to why there were so many terrible shovelware games for the Wii. They take advantage of clueless parents or grandparents who know their kids like games and seeing the comparably low price, buy them. 144 toys for 15 bucks is a great deal and if you have a kid in the thick of their love of Pokemon, well you’ve just gotten them a lot of toys for very little out of pocket expense. A five year old isn’t going to care that their Drowzee toy looks like it was dragged behind a car for fifteen miles, they’re gonna be pumped that they have a mountain of cheap toys.
Then there’s people like me who buy the toys strictly because they’re so horrible. For the most part, these toys are laughably bad. The painting is lazy, the molds are hit or miss, and sometimes the Pokemon aren’t even the right color. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the “best” these bootlegs have to offer.
Starting off strong with this poor neon pink Clefable. Look at its face, it’s begging for the sweet embrace of death. Its colors are so off, why does it have those blue wings? Compare the toy to its official art. As bad as it is, it’s pretty far from the worst these bootlegs have to offer.
I don’t know what to say about this guy. It barely looks anything like what Slurpuff should be, instead more closely resembling something far less safe for work. It has no details on it besides the little circle on the top of its head and a little bit of mouth molding. Slurpuff loves baking with pastry chefs, but I’d refuse to let anything that looks like this figure anywhere near my kitchen.
Delphox looked like it tried out to become Ronald McDonald and was rejected due to being too terrible. I think whoever was painting this just gave up halfway through painting. The red paint was lazily thrown on, and instead of having a cute small little nose, it looks like the poor fox was instead thrown into the killer clown phase that swept the nation back in October.
Mega Charizard X & Charizard
Poor Charizard, poor, poor Charizard. This boy has a bad case of the uglies, especially its mega evolved form. First off, regular Charizard is yellow when it really shouldn’t be. I don’t know if they had just run out of orange plastic when they were filling this mold or if they just didn’t care but it’s pretty bad. His mouth painting is equally as bad, he looks like he just ate somebody and is now covered in their blood. Mega Charizard X is worse, though. They got the body coloring right, yes, but the poor thing looks like it has rabies. Because they didn’t color the flames blue, it looks like it’s foaming at the mouth or has a very long mustache.
Hoo boy this Nidoking is a gift. If there was any Pokemon that I was hoping to get from these bootlegs for the funny factor, it had to have been Nidoking. Look at his crazy eyes and and weirdly dark coloring. If the Clefable is begging for its own death, he’s begging to rain death down upon the people who created him.
If these toys made noises, I think the Aerodactyl would make a noise that would sound something like “nyon.” It looks like the people making the molds were given access to the Pokemon Yellow sprite for Aerodactyl for a split second and then were told “okay now go make this a toy without peeking again.” It looks like Aerodactyl enough that it’s recognizable among other Pokemon toys, but it also looks like it could just be a regular pterodactyl or something. It’s not the worst toy, but it’s still pretty funny.
This thing is so ugly. Maybe it’s the completely incorrect coloring or the lack of black stripes, but its face is just unsettling. With its weird lumpy nose and a lazy eye this child is just not doing well. This is probably tied with Slurpuff for being the least recognizable of the bunch, It has the general shape right of Palpitoad, but pretty much every other feature is incorrect.
Now the mold for this guy is pretty good. The painting is also pretty decent, but it’s the colors on it that are the problem. Why does he have blue hair and why is he so dark? It feels like the people painting this Pokemon were never given an image as to what Slaking looks like and instead were given a color palette and were told to go wild.
I got a lot of Pikachus in my set, but that’s pretty understandable. Pikachu is the mascot of Pokemon after all. And for the most part, the Pikachus are pretty good. Some of them have pretty bad faces or stray paint marks, but compared to the other figures I got, they’re the closest to official figures that these come by. And like I said, Pikachu’s the mascot, so if you’re gonna do one bootleg right, it has to be Pikachu.
Photos: Mallory Huxford