With Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens getting a world premiere this week and opening for general audiences on Friday, Disney/Lucasfilm's merchandising machine is operating at full capacity. Vendors are scrambling for any tangible aspect of the Star Wars Universe to keep up with the demands of Force fever, and a lineup of the Episode VII toys recently shipped in preparation for launch day - featuring classic heroes like Han Solo and General Leia, as well as new players Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren.
Unfortunately, not all action figures are ready to launch adults and children into adventures in a galaxy far, far away. Recently, a UK vendor purchased a consignment of Star Wars action figures which weren’t quite so out of this world.
Poole, England wholesaler Karl Baxter ordered what he thought was a bulk lot of Star Wars collectibles. A Star Wars fan himself, he revealed to the UK’s Daily Mail how disappointed he was to cut open his order and find boxes and boxes of knockoffs:
“The first disappointment came when we realised they were exclusively Episode One characters, as this is arguably the weakest of the six films. The second disappointment came when we realised that these were very unconvincing fakes.”
Not only were the Phantom Menace fakes poorly manufactured — with “garish colour choices” and what Baxter called “wonky eyes and luminous weapons” – but the bootleggers couldn’t even be bothered to get the character names right. A few of the hilariously off-base names include venerable Jedi Knight “Toby-One” Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker as “Little Girl,” deconstructed protocol droid “R2-3PO,” duplicitous Senator Palpatine and his Sith alter-ego as “Glorious Star Leader” and “The Emperor Daft Serious” respectively, and of course Gungan leader Boss Nass as “Upright Slug.”
You can learn more about the situation (and see images of the bootleg Star Wars toys) at Karl Baxter's blog HERE.
Still somewhat shocked after the rip-off, Baxter, who runs Wholesale Clearance UK Ltd., says there’s little he can do with the amusing bootlegs. Stuck with a stockroom full of fakes, he’s at least taken to displaying some of the bad action figures from a far-flung galaxy in his showroom. Hopefully, the publicity from the scam will at least boost sales at his store to make up for his loss. Whatever Baxter chooses to do with the bunk batch, he certainly has a heck of a story to tell about his pre-Episode VII exploits.
Even though he can’t technically sell the bootlegs, I would love to get my hands on a dual purple-blade-wielding “Dennis” (Darth Maul). And who knows. Maybe somewhere there’s an alternate fan film universe waiting to be born, where valiant warriors “Conehead” (Ki-Adi-Mundi) and “Fly-Gone-Gin” (Qui Gon Jinn) save the galaxy from the evil Lord “Serious.” Maybe not, though.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.