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Posts Tagged ‘bootlegs’

Hulk Shoot!

May 21st, 2014 No comments

Last week I was in San Francisco for the PBS Annual Meeting followed by a few additional days of vacationing. On one hand, I believe San Francisco may be the most beautiful city in the United States. On the other, it also has more panhandlers per square foot. You can’t swing a box of Rice-a-Roni without hitting a half dozen beggars and grifters.

Speaking of things that are not-quite-legit, I wanted to share one of my shopping finds from the streets of San Francisco. A charming Chinatown shop named Powell Gifts enticed me with its mural depicting every Japanese pop culture icon from Mario to Godzilla.

powellgifts

Among the anime wall scrolls and Pokemon figurines was a cache of bootleg Lego minifigures. I’ve seen photos of Lego fakes before, but this was the first time I’d encountered them in the wild.

I exited happily clutching a Hulk. I figured that at worst I’d come away with a poorly-made glob of plastic in a nifty package, and just maybe I’d score a decent reproduction of a rare, out-of-production promotional minifigure.

The toy came in a colorful box that closely followed the typography and house style of Lego packaging.

hulk01

The back-of-the-box artwork was cribbed from the Lego Marvel Super Heroes videogame, with Superman and Batman subbed in for Black Widow and Loki.

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Here are the contents of the box: a minifigure, a stand, three superhero stat cards (none of which are for the Hulk), and a spare hand. Also, a sniper rifle. Like the Hulk is known to carry.

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Note that the stand declares this toy to be part of their “Herd Series.” Not pictured are the backs of the stat cards, which inexplicably feature the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.

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I honestly love this figure. It’s comparable in quality to the collectible, blind bagged minifigs sold by Lego, and it’s of a character who is only available in large, expensive sets. Well done, bootleggers!

 

Categories: Toys Tags: , ,

What An Amazing DVD Set For The ALF Fan!

September 23rd, 2010 No comments

So, my good friend Dave L. and I were chatting about the late ’70s TV series Project U.F.O., the first episode of which he’d just reviewed. I looked up its Wikipedia entry, and was surprised to see that the series had been released on DVD. I thought, “That seems unlikely.” It was the rare ’70s sci-fi series that I didn’t watch, partially because it was a show about aliens in which the aliens always turned out to be swamp gas, and partially because it was as exciting as watching unidentified flying paint dry.

I clicked on the link and was taken to Epic DVD Store, a website which proclaims “All your favorites TV shows on DVD.” As I examined the entry for the Project U.F.O. Complete TV Series, it occurred to me that it was just possible this was not a licensed boxed set. Maybe it was the block letter title font. Or the black-and-white cover photo. Or perhaps the region-free coding. I don’t know, something said that this was not quite legit.

Looking further, I found a wealth of TV series old and new. Some of them I’d never even heard of, and that’s saying something. Circus Boy? There was a show called Circus Boy?!?

There were a fair number of vintage and/or short-run series, but quite a bit that was recent, and–more to the point–commercially available. You can get the complete run of Babylon 5 for $94.95, about 2/3 of what you’d pay for the real thing at Barnes & Noble. I wonder how many people rabid enough to actually want to suffer through all five seasons of Babylon 5*–even seasons 1 and 5–wouldn’t plunk down the extra 50 bucks for high-quality DVDs?

I took a look at the site’s F.A.Q.

“Some of these DVD’s haven’t even been released yet.  How is it possible that you sell them?

There is a section of the American copyright law known as ‘The Berne Act’ that Clearly states: films unreleased in the United States, including original versions of films altered and/or edited for release in the United States, are NOT protected by American copyright; thus, they are considered public domain. The entire purpose of our website is to provide otherwise unavailable films or television shows to the serious collector.”

Okay, that’s utter horseshit. I mean, sure, it’s not like I expect bootleggers to care about a correct legal interpretation of what constitutes a public domain work, but that’s not even close to a plausible argument. And it does nothing to explain the boxed set of Firefly for $39.95. Which is for sale. Everywhere. For about half that price on a good day.

Here’s the thing: I don’t actually mind bootleggers all that much when they’re selling shows that–if not actually public domain–are truly unavailable through commercial means. If someone thinks that they can get 20 bucks for a tenth-generation copy of Legends of the Superheroes, I say go for it. I think that it behooves copyright holders to get off the stick and make their content available through legal means; either meet the demand or quit your bitching.** But bootlegs of Charles in Charge? I do not think so.

A couple of the items for sale call for special attention. First up was a complete set of Doctor Who. Which series? Why, all of it! “Every memorable episode” on 193 DVDs.

193 DVDs.

193 DVDs.

Best of all was the copy-and-paste fail that resulted in this promotional copy:

“What an amazing DVD Set for the Alf Fan!”

Yes, what would the discerning ALF fan want more than a 193 DVD boxed set of Doctor Who?

Okay, I know that’s just a simple error, but then I saw this. It’s a complete set of the early ’60s courtroom drama The Defenders. So far, so good. But take a look at the box art.

Yes, that’s the cover from the Marvel comic book The Defenders. So, not a TV show in which “a recent law school graduate (Robert Reed) joins his father (E.G. Marshall) as the pair tackle challenging legal cases.” Though I have to say, if it really starred Robert Reed as Namor the Sub-Mariner and E.G. Marshall as Dr. Strange–with Joan Hackett as Valkyrie–tackling legal cases, challenging or otherwise, I would watch the hell out of it.

“What an amazing DVD Set for the Defenders Fan!”

*Yes, I said it.

**This opinion does not reflect the views of my employer or the Public Broadcasting Service. It should not be in any way be mistaken for an actual legal argument, or a suggestion that you go out and break the law. So say we all.