Ever since Pokémon Red and Blue first debuted on the Game Boy back in 1996, the monster catching, training, and battling franchise exploded and became an international hit. It was soon followed by an animated series, which became the first truly popular anime in the west and sparked an invasion of anime across the rest of the world that continues to this day.
What started out as a pair of handheld games evolved into the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, encompassing video games, trading cards, anime, movies, books, manga, toys and all sorts of merchandise. Though Pokémon is mainly remembered as being a staple of 90s, alongside Tamagotchi and 2Pac, its popularity continues to this day, as evidenced by the instant popularity of 2016's Pokémon Go.
Of course, as with any immensely popular franchise, there are always imitators trying to trick people and cash in on that success. Being the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, Pokémon has seen more than its fair share of bootleg toys and merchandise. Sometimes these knockoff toys look pretty decent and could even pass off as licensed merchandise.
A lot of times, though, they end up looking so strange and questionable, you wonder whether or not the Chinese manufacturers producing these toys knew what it was they were trying to make, or if they were intentionally making weird and twisted toys for kids.
Today we're presenting Knockoff Pokémon Toys We Can't Believe Were Actually Made. So grab your Pokédex and see if you can identify what these weirdly miscolored, mislabeled and misshapen lumps of plastic are supposed to be.
20 Pokémon Go Plus: Now With Meowth & Pikachu
It's no secret that Pokémon Go led a resurgence in the Pokémon fanbase, with Nintendo making new toys and merchandise to capitalize on this popularity. Of course, Nintendo wasn't the only ones looking to profit off this success, as evidenced by this bootleg "Pokémon Go Plus" toy set.
The box boasts Meowth and Pikachu as "new arrivals," even though they're probably the most famous Pokémon and would've been part of any first lineup. I'm guessing the thing in the middle is supposed to be a Poké Ball, but I don't think either one can fit inside.
19 Gengar: The Ultimate Chew Toy
As was said earlier, Pokémon has all sorts of merchandising, including toys, comics, card games, video games, and even Funkos now. One of the only areas they don't seem to have any merchandising in, in fact, is pet supplies. I don't know why. Pets are pretty much like real-life Pokémon, minus the superpowers.
Bootleg manufacturers seek to fill this untapped market, though I'm not sure a Gengar dog toy is the best place to start. Why Gengar specifically? I think Cubone would seem like a more obvious choice, but I'm not the one working in the bootleg market.
Rubber ducks are treated more as a curious novelty than an actual bath toy nowadays. Part of the reason is the surprising amount of custom ducks out there, with ducks dressed up as cowboys, superheroes and even celebrities. You have not lived until you've seen a Britney Spears, Mr. T, and Spock duck with your own eyes.
A Pikachu duck seems obvious, but Nintendo wouldn't hand out the license for that. Luckily, some diehard duck fan decided to glue some plastic tips to a regular duck and paint some details. Voila! Instant PikaDuck. A welcome addition to any Pokémon/rubber duck collection.
17 Squish Me!
While the Pokémon themselves get tons of merchandise, there's very little focus on giving the Pokémon trainers any toys. Fortunately, the bootleg market loves to throw Ash and Misty all over their knockoff toys, and not just on packaging. Here we have some sort of squishy Misty toy, and it looks pretty spooky.
Not only is Misty a very strange pick (should've used Ditto), but her design is all sorts of weird. She looks like she's got Cheeto dust all over her mouth. And then there's her eyes. Looks like poor Misty has been scarred for life.
16 Look Out, Lego
When it comes to building blocks, nobody beats Lego. They got some of the best and most creative building sets available, as well as the license for several really popular franchises. They've got Star Wars, Harry Potter, and even DC and Marvel all at their disposal. It seems the only thing they don't have are any video game licenses.
While Mega Construx holds the official Pokémon license, that hasn't stopped some Chinese manufacturers from making their own unofficial sets. While they don't look quite as clean as Mega Construx, they're still pretty cool. Might want to spellcheck that name, though.
15 Pikachu, Let It Rip!
While Pokémon may have been the first collecting-based anime, it certainly wasn't the last. Many imitators soon followed (Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Monster Rancher), as did the inevitable toy lines that they were hoping to make millions off of. Some of them did okay, but what if you combined one imitator's toy line with the OG Pokémon?
Someone out there made that dream a reality by putting Pokémon on some Beyblade-like battle tops. It's a neat idea, but it's actually really cheap plastic and the tops are nowhere near as intricate as the original spinning tops.
14 The Whole Gang's Here!
Here's another bootleg toy made to capitalize on the success of Pokémon Go, and this time we have a variety pack. There's some recognizable faces, including Pikachu, Ash and Misty, but some of the other ones look a little off.
You've got a monochrome Tyranitar in the upper left hand corner, and I don't know if that's supposed to be an Electabuzz or Elekid in the middle, but it's wrong. And I know I'm not familiar with post-Generation 3, but I don't think that bunny is a Pokémon. Also, why does the Pikachu on the bottom look so lumpy?
13 Pokémon 3: Revenge Of The Knockoffs
Here we have a set called "Pokémon 3." What happened to Pokémon 2? I don't know what the numbering means, but it's not Generation 3 because I don't recognize any of these Pokémon. In fact, they may not actually be Pokémon. They're certainly not the ones advertised on the box, so that's already misleading.
Despite the questionable quality, the box claims that it has "more fun waiting for you," whatever that means. But for only 99 cents, I'm willing to buy these cheap non-Pokémon on the off chance that maybe there's a hacked copy of Pokémon Gold hidden somewhere in this package.
12 Fun Game: Predigy Pat
This "fun game" is called Predigy Pat. Now this is a serious translation error here. "Predigy" isn't even a real word! Maybe they meant prodigy, or maybe they meant these toys came before the era of Digimon.
Either way, this "fun game" isn't really a game, it's just some figures of Team Rocket. They don't look posable, but they're still some pretty decent knockoffs. Although James' eyes look a little too sinister to me. Can't even see the whites of his eyes.
11 Taking Notes In Style
Whenever it was time to go shopping for back to school supplies, nobody wanted to get those Plain Jane notebooks. Everyone always went for the notebooks with their favorite cartoon characters or superheroes on them. However, those always cost more, so how about a cheaper alternative?
Here we have a notebook provided by "Mountain Boy" depicting Ash if he dialed up the anime about 20%. Pikachu now looks like a plush yellow rabbit that listens to too much J-Pop and Misty has been replaced by some magical girl. Still not as cringey as your first anime OC.
10 Now You're Playing With Pika-Power
Of course, with the entire Pokémon franchise being based off some popular video games, it's only natural that some knockoff video games would worm their way into the market as well. Here we have the Pika Boy 2, a Famiclone endorsed by Pikachu himself.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of information about what types of games are on the Pika Boy 2, so we'll just have to assume they're all NES ports. What a shame. I was really hoping to see some awful 2D platformer with a bootlegged Pikachu in here.
9 Pikachu, What Realistic Eyes You Have!
As the main mascot of the entire Pokémon franchise, Pikachu has become an iconic figure rivaling even Mickey Mouse. Even when bootlegged, he's usually still very recognizable and adorable. That's why it's especially noticeable whenever someone gets him wrong. Usually it's something like a misshaped head or missing stripes.
Here, though, the figure is mostly accurate. For some reason, somebody decided to give Pikachu realistic human eyes. What's creepiest is the way those eyes stare right back at you. It's like he knows he's some cheap knockoff and he's just as upset as you are.
8 Hi-Yo, Pikachu, Away!
Remember those quarter-operated rides they used to have in front of grocery stores and pharmacies? They'd be shaped like horses or cars or rockets. Sometimes there were even little carousels so three kids could ride at the same time while cheap circus music played.
Sometimes they would be shaped like popular cartoon characters, but they never seemed to be licensed because they always looked off-model, like this Pikachu ride. First off, he's got nostrils instead of that cute button nose. He also has too many chins. Pikachu, you really need to cut back on the rice balls.
7 Homer, I Choose You!
While Pokémon was the most popular anime of the 90s, no cartoon was more iconic of the decade than The Simpsons. It was a prime-time sitcom with foul language and mature jokes, but the merchandise was still marketed to kids. And like the Pokémon anime, The Simpsons is still airing to this day.
So why knockoff one cartoon when you could knockoff both at once? Someone had this brilliant idea and decided to merge Homer Simpson and Pikachu into the perfect 90s cartoon mascot. The result is breathtaking. Socks are nice, but I really want this on a T-shirt!
6 Pikachu! I Choose You, Mon!
I've been mostly ragging on Asian manufacturers, but they're not the only ones in the bootleg market. Pokémon's popularity was global, and so are the knockoffs. Other markets are well-known for peddling more unofficial merchandise than official. And just about any tourist area is gonna have pirated cartoon characters as souvenirs.
Take this Pikachu, for example. This Pikachu has apparently joined the Rastafarian culture and changed his name to "Pokyman." Apart from the hat, dreadlocks, and chest tattoo, he's pretty much on-model. Don't be surprised if it smells like a Bob Marley concert, though.
5 Trouble: Pocket Monica Edition
There are plenty of bootleg Pokémon toys and even some notable unlicensed video games, but bootleggers can't ignore the board game market either. For those kids who want to play Pokémon games but can't afford a Game Boy, here's "Pocket Monica: Jump-Jupm Chess," starring everyone's favorite Pokémon, Monica.
This game has nothing to do with chess, and instead looks like a Pokémon-themed Trouble ripoff. As far as knockoff toys go, this one's not that bad. Of course, that's providing the board and pieces don't look incredibly wonky and weird.
4 Writing, With Style
I never really understood pencil toppers. You get this little plastic toy and stick it on the end of your pencil, covering your eraser. It's not an eraser, so whenever you need to erase something you have to pop it off and put it back on again. Some teachers even claimed they were distracting toys, so you couldn't even bring them to school.
Anyway, somebody decided to make a pencil topper of Blastoise. For a knockoff, the colors and design all look pretty official. Although, it does look pretty weird to see a pencil going in there.
3 Not-So-Colorful Flower
A lot of cheap plastic toys (especially bootlegs) are made using a plastic mold which are then colored and detailed to look more attractive. The manufacturers of these knockoff toys, however, usually skimp on the coloring and detail. This can be seen in this toy, which is supposed to be a Roserade.
You can tell this is supposed to be a Roserade, and the colors are mostly right. But the bootleggers forgot to use a lighter shade of green for the arms and legs, so Roserade just looks too monochrome. And again, the eyes are just so lifeless!
2 Shiny Pokémon!
We've seen knockoff toys, school supplies, board games, and even video games, but another often forgotten product aimed at children is the sticker market. Kids love stickers, and they'll buy pages and pages of them to stick in their coloring books, notebooks, furniture, walls and even on themselves and family members.
So here we have some particularly shiny Pokémon stickers. They look mostly on-model (besides one warped Poliwhirl in the bottom right), but the colors are a little off. You got a purple Wigglytuff, Clefairy and Charmander, and a pink Farfetch'd. Maybe we'll just say these are the "Shiny" variations.
1 The Legendary Trollface Pokémon
We've seen plenty of knockoff Pokémon toys here, but none really captures the spirit of the bootleg market more than this grinning Rayquaza figure. Just look at it. It barely even looks like Rayquaza. The face is completely different, it's the wrong shade of green, and it has minimal detailing.
And then there's that big old smile. It's like Rayquaza's saying, "Yeah, you've been tricked into buying a cheap bootleg. Whatchu gonna do about it?" It's like the bootleggers are laughing right at you, and that's what makes this the perfect knockoff Pokémon toy.
Do you know any other weirder knockoff Pokémon toys? Share them in the comments.