When is a bootleg not
really a bootleg? When it's a fake, of course. I understand many of the
readers right now will be wondering what on Earth I am talking about. Let me
start by explaining what bootlegs and knock-offs really are. Over the years
3 distinct types of bootlegs have been identified.
Now that Ive explained what a bootleg is let me explain what qualifiers make a bootleg toy in the collecting hobby. There are 2 main points that need to be met. The first point is the size of the operation. In order for a bootleg to be legitimate, that's an oxymoron if I have ever heard one, it must be a fairly large-scale operation, usually made in a factory or other large facility. The other point that must be met is distribution. In order for a bootleg to be recognized as a bootleg it must have been distributed to a store to be sold to consumers. Neither of these qualifiers where met by the "bootlegs" pictured on this page.
The first picture shows almost a complete loose set of figures belonging to
this set. The only figure I remember seeing that isn't pictured is Bespin
Here is a close-up of the back of the legs and bottoms of the feet. As you can see the copyright information was included in the mold and made the transition pretty cleanly. In fact for copies they are pretty detailed. You can see that the bottoms of the feet lack holes also. These figures are made of a pretty flexible rubber and some even came with weapons cast in the same flexible rubber. The arms, legs, and head are held on with a thin piece of wire that runs through the figure. The figures are almost the exact same size as the originals and most appear to be shot in white rubber with all of the details painted on. There is a pretty obvious 2nd set of parting lines also present. Please remember while you are reading this that no matter how convincing these look, they are not real bootlegs.
These are the creation of a gentleman by the name of Mario. He was a seller on eBay by the name of fx_master. Approximately the summer of 2001 a set of, what were thought to be bootleg, 2 packs surfaced. There was a Han and a Stormtrooper in the package. Both came with Han blasters and the card featured the 1982 Theatrical Re-Release ESB poster art.
Here is a great close-up of that first set. The observant reader will note that this early attempt shown has foot holes, that's because the first "bootlegs" were simply Kenner figures repainted. The card bears text that was later revealed as being Dutch in origin. The seller's story was that these were from a case of Dutch bootlegs that he bought years ago. When these started to surface many bootleg collectors were duped, while many watched the auctions to gauge price and check the history of these pieces. As time went on more and more of these started to surface. Finally, a collector came forward with information about these confirming that they were fake. The collector had become suspect as more and more of these started to go up for auction, all from the same seller, so he decided to take the figures out of the package. The figures were still tacky and smelled of fresh paint, rather unusual for figures that were supposedly over 10 years old. These figures went through many incarnations including going from 2 packs to single packs, going from Kenner repaints to being original rubber casts, going from being made in Holland to being made in Germany, and going from appearing on ESB cardbacks to appearing on Star Wars cardbacks. These figures have also shown up in different paint schemes as is evidenced by the following pictures of carded figures.
Sure these are bootlegs in the larger sense of the word since they are unlicensed copies of Kenner figures, but in hobby terms they are nothing more than high-output customs. One man made these in his house, basement, or garage to distribute directly to the collector's market in hopes of duping the entire bootleg community. If you see these, or anything similar that isn't pictured in the bootleg section, please approach with caution. Many collectors and dealers purchased these during the early days of the run and to this day are under the impression that they are legitimate vintage bootlegs. One such "expert" claimed to have a carded bootleg Vader appraised at $10,000, imagine my surprise when he produced a picture of a carded Vader similar to the one on this very page.
|Description by:||John J. Alvarez|
|Photo:||Anonymous , John J. Alvarez|
|From the collection of:||Anonymous|
|Film:||Return of the Jedi|
|Category:||Toys / Action Figure Related / Small Action Figures (Bootleg)|