Special Guest Post: Superman Bootleg Action Figures and Toys

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A Superman collector from Mexico named Marco emailed me and offered to share some pictures of the Superman bootleg action figures he’s collected over many years of combing public markets in Mexico. My bootleg collection is very small, so of course I was interested in seeing them.

Bootleg action figures are unlicensed toys made without permission from the trademark owner. They are often copied from legally produced toys, either using the original factory molds or copied from the toys themselves, but with cheaper plastic and paint operations. Many, as you can see, are original sculpts. Because of their cheapness and sometimes off-model appearance, they range from very charming to hilarious.

When I got Marco’s pictures, I was impressed, first at how many figures he has, and also at the amazing quality of the pictures he took. My favorites are the portrait style compositions, but they are all great, and Marco was kind enough to allow me to share them with you. He also provided a description in Spanish for many of the pictures; I don’t speak Spanish at all, so I’m going to cheat and use translate.google.com to start and try to clean it up. Everything in italics is copied and pasted exactly from his words; standard text is my attempt at translation/clarification.

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La primer figura en dos imágenes es de goma y representa un Superman enano, me atrevería a decir que el escultor se baso en la cara de José René Ruíz Martínez alias Tun Tun, un actor mexicano enano de los años 40 y 50, famoso por actuar en las películas del gran cómico del cine mexicano Germán Valdez Tin Tan.

The first two images are made of rubber and Superman is a dwarf. I would say that the sculpt was based on face of Jose Rene Ruiz Martinez a/k/a Tun Tun, a dwarf Mexican actor of the 40s and 50s who was famous for acting in the films of the great Mexican film comedian Germán Valdez Tin Tan.

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La tercera figura, tiene una hebilla con luz roja y su cuerpo es el mismo de las tres figuras con los números del 27 al 35, solo que aquellas son de mayor tamaño.

The third figure has a buckle with red light and his body is the same as the three figures with numbers from 27 to 35, only those are larger. (Those are the figures with the 90s Superman hair below.)

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Las figuras con los números 13 y 14 son prácticamente iguales pero una parece que tiene protectores en las espinillas y la otra con botas, la de los protectores me recuerda mucho a la primera aparición de Superman en 1938.

The figures with the numbers 13 and 14 are virtually identical but the left one has guards on the shins and the other wears boots. The shin guards remind me of the first appearance of Superman in 1938.

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La figura que va del numero 27 al 30 es tal vez la mejor de estos bootlegs, no sé si sea copiada de alguna original, pero si se le compara con el regreso de Superman después de su muerte, específicamente cuando sale de la armadura Kryptoniana y se encuentra con Lois Lane, es idéntica a la ilustración del comic, me parece que dentro de lo bootleg es una buena figura. También la encontré en los colores clásicos, rojo y azul, pero en realidad se trata del traje negro con brazaletes y botas para volar.

Figures number 27 to 30 are perhaps the best of these bootlegs. I do not know if it’s copied from some original, but when compared with the return of Superman after his death, specifically when it leaves the Kryptonian armor and meets Lois Lane, is identical to the illustration of the comic. I think that for a bootleg, it is a good figure. This figure is also found in classical colors, red and blue.

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La figura que va del número 40 al 42, es un muñeco de trapo (softie) de Christopher Reeve, la cara, la insignia y las botas estan claramente basadas en él.

This is a rag doll (softie) of Christopher Reeve. The face, Superman emblem, and the boots are clearly based on it. (Note: I’m not 100% sure of this, though it does look a bit like Christopher Reeve.)

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La primer figura en 3 imágenes es de producción mexicana, la compre en 1998 en un mercado de Cabo San Lucas, estas figuras fueron muy populares en México, están hechas de plástico inflado, aunque aún se encuentran cada vez son menos comunes, las figuras chinas las han desplazado. Esta en particular, venia con un paracaídas enganchado con alambre en los hombros.

The first 3 images are contained in Mexican production. Purchase in 1998 at a market in Cabo San Lucas, these figures were very popular in Mexico, are made of hollow vinyl. Although they are still becoming less common, Chinese-made figures have moved in. This particular figure came originally with a parachute hooked into the shoulders.

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La segunda figura es más vieja, este tipo de figuras se encontraban en los mercados mexicanos durante los años 70 y había otros personajes, por lo menos he visto a Batman, Robin, Guasón y Pingüino. Estos también son paracaidistas y son de un plástico muy frágil, era muy común que con las caídas se les quebraran los ganchos de las manos o los brazos completos, aunque he llegado a ver algunas versiones en un plástico más resistente.

The second figure is older. These kind of figures were in Mexican markets during the 70s and had other characters, at least I saw Batman, Robin, Joker and Penguin. These are also paratroopers and are of a very fragile plastic. It was common that they broke. (Note: this appears to be another parachute Superman bootleg as I previously covered here.)

Edited to add: Brian of Plaid Stallions points out that this one was actually licensed and he has one carded. Thanks for the clarification, Brian.

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As you can see from Marco’s great collection, the varying styles of bootlegs can be an interesting and fun counterpoint to tightly controlled character products that all use the same style guide artwork that’s required as part of corporate licensing agreements. I am not much of a bootleg collector… I have a few, but nothing like this, so I appreciated seeing all of these figures I’ve never seen before.

Marco writes, “In Mexico, there are many Superman collectors. I know a few, but many of them are professionals like me and frequently we have no time to share info, but I hope we share more.”

Thanks for sharing some of your collection, Marco!

If you have something you’d like to share with the readers of Collecting Superman, please drop me a line.

3 thoughts on “Special Guest Post: Superman Bootleg Action Figures and Toys

  1. Wow, what a fantastic gallery. I have a few crazy foreign bootleg figures (none of which are displayed here), and would kill to own some of these!

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