Coming up with an original toy idea that’s going to sell well costs lots of money and lots of time. Even if a big toy company has all the resources at hand, they still need a killer idea. It’s why so many toy companies forego this laborious process and take shortcuts instead.
There is no shortage of toy copycats out there. While it’s easy to spot the resemblance they share with the real thing, they’re often cheaper quality, come in weird colors and bear strange names. These are the usual giveaways to look out for when it comes to knockoff toys.
We’re going to look at knockoffs toy companies should’ve tried harder to differentiate from the original. Don’t forget to check out things Toys R Us wants us to forget.
Batman and Superman are arguably the most well-known superheroes of all time. There’s very little chance of mixing the two up. Yet this toy maker attempted to bamboozle the public in making Superman out to be The Dark Knight. We can only hope the toy maker just mixed up the packaging and it was the result of an error.
19 Space Boys 3
Where to begin with this very odd and blatant rip-off of a toy. It takes the character Woody from Toy Story and enlarges his arms, legs and head for stylistic effect. The end results are odd and anyone familiar with the movies will laugh at how it looks. Worse of all is the toy’s name, which reads “Space Boys 3.”
18 Super Robot Transformable Tomas
Thomas the Tank Engine has been around in books and TV shows for years. Considering the characters are trains, they also make for perfect toys. This maker went in an odd direction though, taking a cue from Voltron or Power Rangers by having the characters combine to form a "Super Robot Transformable Tomas."
17 Sense Of Right Alliance
What could be more exciting than Superman, Batman and The Justice League? Why, the "Sense of Right Alliance," of course! Wait, the “Sense of Right Alliance?” That’s right, it has Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Power Ranger, Shrek and...car? It’s the strangest assembly of characters under one banner and a blatant knockoff.
16 Ill-Tempered Birds
Pokémon Go, Candy Crush, Angry Birds—these popular app games all have big merchandising potential. Naturally, this toy vending machine wanted to ride the Angry Bird train without stealing the property’s name outright. Instead, they called their pencil toppers “Ill-Tempered Birds” while basing the character designs off ones from the game—only they’re not as good.
In the Tom Hanks movie Big, a toy company comes up with a building that turns into a robot. Hanks’ character responds, “I don’t get it. It turns from a building into a robot, right? Well, what’s fun about that?” Substitute the word building for ship, and the same question applies here (I-Mockery.com).
14 Big Fella
Everyone knows Godzilla, even if they haven’t seen all of the character’s movies. He’s in a lot of movies, from Godzilla vs Destoroyah to Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, making this a bankable property. Sadly, no figure called “Big Fella” that looks like Godzilla is going to fool anyone, making this a sad attempt at an easy cash grab.
13 Special Man
Everyone knows what the yellow and red “S” logo stands for—“Special Man,” of course. This wannabe Superman toy sought to capitalize on the world’s most iconic superhero without using the same name. Aside from the name change, this figure looks like an exact replica of Superman as it bears his signature costume and color scheme.
12 The Power Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a major pop culture phenomena. It’s only natural toys would rip off the franchise, yet one would think they could do better. “The Power Slayer” packaging even has a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar on the front, as if the makers behind it don’t care about how bad it looks.
11 Avenger Buzz Lightyear
There’s a lot going on here and none of it is good. While the packaging reflects an Avengers action figure, it’s really Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Even more, he comes with two mini figures, who actually look like Marvel characters, sort of. The really alarming part is the supposed price tag, which lists it at $32.00.
10 New Style Ninja Tortoise
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an original idea that’s sparked comics, movies and TV shows. New Style Ninja Tortoise, on the other hand, is not only bizarre, but a sad and desperate copy of the popular franchise. As if it wasn’t clear, the makers even slapped a red sticker on the figure’s chest that says “TORTOISE” in big letters.
9 Game Child
The Gameboy revolutionized handheld gaming. The "Game Child” did not. It’s hard to know why, considering the handheld’s screen is smaller, there’s no “B” button and the colors look off. Those all seem like smart moves on the toy maker's part to improve on the original, so it’s a mystery as to why no one’s heard of the "Game Child.”
8 Stars Warsidrs [sic]
It’s hard to wrap one’s head around this one. In an obvious knockoff of Star Wars, “Stars Warsidrs” looks more like an intentional joke. With characters like “Karate Farmer,” “Wise Puppet” and “Door Ladder,” it appears more like a spoof than it does an attempt to capitalize on Star Wars' popularity—at least we hope so.
7 G.I. Robert
Is it a Transformers? A G.I. Joe? Why not make it both? What’s most peculiar about these toys—other than their names—is that it transforms into lame objects, such as a TV and a flip phone, instead of say, a tank or a jet. Yet according to SoftoyHobby, the G.I. Roberts are technically custom copycat toys.
6 Outdoor Heroes
As opposed to indoor heroes, these two figures are “Outdoor Heroes.” One of the action figures goes by “Archer,” the other “Fisherman,” and both come with the accompanying gear befitting their titles. Look past all the accessories and wardrobes, however, and these figures are nothing more than dressed up Spiderman figures.
When toy makers run out of ideas or can’t come up with any good ones, they can always just combine two properties into one. This toy maker took the body of C-3PO from Star Wars and a golden face of E.T. to make “E3PO.” It doesn’t get much lazier than this, folks.
4 Demon Donkey
This toy commits two sins that make it a clear knockoff. First of all, it’s the toy itself, which blatantly rips off the My Little Pony brand of horses with hair for kids to comb. Then there’s the name—and what a name it is: "Demon Donkey." We can picture kids putting the “Demon Donkey” at the top of their Christmas lists.
3 Star Knight
Darth Vader is one of cinema’s most iconic characters, making it an easy go-to for knockoff toys. Unfortunately for the “Star Knight”—as is the case for so many knockoffs—it makes little sense. There’s no hiding from the truth, this is Vader riding on a police motorcycle plain and simple—and it’s bizarre to say the least.
2 Spook Chasers
Who you gonna call? Apparently, Spook Chasers, which looks like a rip-off of Ghostbusters. This packaging comes with a Spook Chaser decked out in his jumpsuit, some sort of equipment that mimics a proton pack and finally, a goofy-looking ghost. Spook Chasers took the easy route by copying and pasting the Ghostbusters idea without making something original.
The problem with stealing toy ideas from iconic movies like Terminator is that nearly everyone can tell it’s a fake. This “Terminate” figure looks like a mix between a T-800 from Terminator and Dutch from Predator. Not even text claiming it has “moving arms & legs” can redeem this heavily copied toy.
Sources: SoftoyHobby, I-Mockery