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Mexican Bootlegs of Vintage Kenner Figures

January 27, 2011

Someone looking at these for the first time would certainly be forgiven for thinking that they had been made by a creative preschooler, but they are in fact Mexican bootlegs of Kenner Star Wars figures. There’s no way to precisely date these, but figures like them were produced from the mid 80s to the 90s. (From left to right they are bootlegs of the Kenner Klaatu, Bib Fortuna, Weequay, and Klaatu in Skiff Guard Outfit figures. The Gamorrean is not based on the Kenner Gamorrean figure.)

Bootlegs of Star Wars figures have been around almost as long as the figures themselves, and are actually a complete sub-genre of Star Wars collecting. They’ve been produced in many different countries, but the ones from Mexico and Poland are some of the most well known. Basically, someone just took a Kenner action figure and made a mold from it so they could create a bunch of knockoffs using cheap plastics. The Mexican ones are generally only semi-articulated — their arms move, but the legs, head and body are all one solid piece of plastic. These were often just sold in plain plastic baggies, although some had rudimentary cards with generic Star Wars art on them.

The first thing you probably notice about these is the paint, which is extremely questionable. It’s generally quite sloppy, and while some of them seemed to try and make an effort to reproduce the color schemes of the actual figures, they can often be completely different. It’s not unusual to see the same figure painted in dozens of different ways. I don’t think anyone has a totally satisfying explanation for this — probably because there are as many reasons as there were people creating the figures. They might have been trying to make new “characters” by inventing new color schemes, or they might have just been using whatever paint they had on hand. Whatever the reason, some of them are very strange indeed, and that’s part of their charm. I like how the ones above have been given mustaches (or is that fangs on the one to the left?)

One of the most interesting ones is the Gamorrean Guard, because it’s one of the few figures that isn’t based directly on a Kenner figure. For some reason, they actually made an original sculpt for this. My feeling is probably that the Kenner Gamorrean was simply too large. It’s infamous for not fitting in any of the vintage carrying cases, and my hunch is that it might have been too big for their molds. In any case, it’s interesting to get a unique sculpt like this, even if he does have a silver face for some reason…

The vintage Jabba figure was also much too large and complicated in its design to easily bootleg, but there was a Mexican “mini-Jabba” figure created. This one is very rare and valuable, so I don’t have one, but it’s MUCH smaller than the vintage Jabba figure. To give you an idea, here is a picture of it next to a bootleg R2 figure.

I don’t think I’ll be collecting a lot of these figures, but they are an interesting sub-genre, and show just how popular Star Wars was.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 30, 2011 4:44 am

    I’m never really sure what to make of the bootlegs. I quite like them as they try to be the same but different.

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