A short time ago, in a country
not far, far away...
There were several vintage bootleg toy lines throughout the world. Most of them share a similar story in that they were created because the licensed product was either unavailable or too expensive for people in the region to afford. The Brazilian line of lead Star Wars figures is no exception...
In the mid 80’s Model Trem, a company known for making parts and scenery for model trains, produced their line of bootleg Star Wars figures to answer the need for Star Wars toys for the children of Brazil to play with. U.S. licensed Star Wars product was not available in stores and there was no Brazilian company with the Star Wars license to fill the need for toys at the time. Thirty four figures total were produced in this line. The figures were released in assorted color generic boxes, some with the characters name and number-in fact three different styles have been found so far, and some with just the number on a sticker on the front of the box. The top of the boxes had a sticker that either said Model Trem with company info or Aventura na Galáxia.
They were sold in stores for the equivalent of $1.50 US. While they lack the “high quality” card art of an Uzay Turkish bootleg, the figures are visually one of the more accurate bootleg lines to have been produced. Each figure was detailed as closely to its licensed counterpart as possible and most figures came with the appropriate weapon for each character. There are several mold and paint variations in the line. The larger and coincidentally last few figures in the line, Bib Fortuna, Emperor, Gammorean Guard, and Klaatu Skiff were made from a dense resin-like plastic material not the lead that the rest of the figures in the line were made from. The Ree-Yees is the only one that has been found in both lead AND resin materials. The reasoning for changing materials to this resin-like plastic for these figures is unknown. Speculation leads me to believe that they changed materials to keep the larger figures from being too heavy for children to play with. Others speculate that they were trying to be more cost-effective with their materials, changing to the plastic as a money saving measure. I feel that if the latter were true they would have used the resin-like plastic on the 2nd series as well. Until we track down a former Model Trem employee the real reason will be unknown.
Model Trem stopped producing their line of Star Wars figures after Glasslite had secured the Brazilian license to produce Star Wars product. Brazilian sources claim that Glasslite and Lucasfilm had threatened Model Trem with legal action if they did not cease production. Model Trem’s retort was their second set of lead bootlegs, “Nova Aventuras nas Galaxias” many of which used components from Star Wars characters and figures themselves, but were different enough to avoid any legal problems. In the 2nd line of figures, they also released a few vehicles. I’ll be covering all of these figures and vehicles in the second installment of this article.
I hope you enjoyed looking at the images and reading some of the history of this hard to complete set. If you’re planning on collecting these bootlegs be prepared to settle for lower grade pieces at times, as they do not turn up very often in prime condition. If you have any questions OR info that was missed about this line, please feel free to email me.