Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creepy Classics Revisited!

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Creepy Classics are a strange little item that I found hidden in the back of a Dollar Tree in the discount section all the way back in July. When your digging things out of the clearance isle in a store where everything only costs a $1.00 to begin with you just know your going to find something strange. I first wrote about Creepy Classics here and while not quite sure what they were, was definitely glad to have picked them up. We are revisiting Creepy Classics as part of the Halloween Countdown, not because I have actually figured anything out about them but because they are just far to interesting to be tucked away in what is destined to be some long forgotten July article. Creepy Classics, whatever they may be, can really only truly be enjoyed during the Halloween Season. So lets take a much needed closer look these things and see what we can uncover.

I know very little about the origins of these toys, though I have figured out that they are supposed to be finger puppets. That puts us a little bit further than we where back in July. Upon closer inspection on the back of the package, you will find a copyright from 2006. I think it would be safe to assume this is when Creepy Classics first hit store shelves. As for who made them, well that one starts to get a little trickier. This task is credited to a company called "X one X Archive Inc." and beyond that nobody knows nothing. Like literally nobody knows a single thing about that company, I've researched it online and keep coming up with people asking the exact same question. If you look closely down at the bottom of the back of the package you will see that these are "Made in China" so in all likelihood this 'X one X Archive Inc.' is some sort of bullshit shell company created for copyright reasons that we will get to later on in this post. The only other thing interesting enough to note is that they are distributed by a company called 'Greenbrier International, Inc.' who I actually was able to track down online. They seem legit enough and even run there own website where you can presumably buy wholesale quantities of the same cheap things sold in dollar stores across the country. As tempting as it sounds to order mass quantities of things from them, we are going to have to put that little nugget of information on hold. For now.

I appear to have the entire set of Creepy Classic finger puppets. Which include knockoff Dracula, Werewolf, Godzilla, Mummy, and Frankenstein. That is a pretty solid lineup of figures. Personally I would have substituted Godzilla for The Creature from the Black Lagoon as 'Zilla is the only one that doesn't really fit the overall theme 'X one X' was going for. Then again, I am probably putting more thought into this article than the company who actually produced these figures put into designing them. So lets give them the benefit of the doubt here and just sort of accept Godzilla's appearance and move on.

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Frankenstein is a pretty hard figure to muck up. Green skin, black hair, flat top head, and neck bolts are pretty much all that is required to make him recognizable. Check, check, check, and double check on all of those bulletin points and we have our self a figure that vaguely resembles Frankenstein. I say vaguely because this specific version of Franky sort of looks depressed and appears to have a receding hairline. I would like to imagine this is what Frankenstein looks like about twenty years after the events of the first film. Old and just sort of bummed out that he hasn't had any small children to toss into lakes recently.

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The Mummy is the next figure in the group and unlike his depressed counterpart this knockoff Mummy appears to have something wrong with his eyes. It could be just my figure but somehow I doubt it. Hes cross-eyed. There is no ifs, ands, or butts about it, the poor guys eyes are distinctly crossed! Though for a cross eyed individual he appears to be a happy one. We're two figures in and already we have depressed Frankenstein and an overly happy, cross-eyed version of The Mummy. Creepy Classics are fantastic!

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Godzilla is next to get his image tarnished via fake finger puppet and not surprisingly doesn't look a thing like what he is supposed to. As a matter of fact, if I didn't know better I would say that 'Zilla  here looks more like Reptar from the old Nickelodeon cartoon 'Rugrats'! You know the more and more I look at this knockoff Godzilla figure, the more and more bolder of a statement I think I can make about it. Boils and ghouls, I think we have our early leader for my favorite figure in the set! Well isn't that a kick in the pants. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to 'X one X' for questioning there decision to include Godzilla earlier in the article. Just look at how happy knockoff Reptar-Zilla looks. You try telling him hes not the best figure in the bunch, because I simply do not have the heart to do it.

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A bastardized version of The Wolfman is next in the set and I am quite frustrated with this figure. Out of all the films to feature either the Wolfman as its title character or in a cameo apperance I do not remember him ever wearing anything that looked like that white shirt does. Hell I do not even remember him wearing anything that sort of resembles the outfit he has on in this figure! Plus it almost goes without saying that the red ninja belt is fairly inaccurate to his films too. Such a shame, Wolfman probably should have been the best figure in the bunch. Instead he ranks clear towards the bottom of the group.

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Dracula is the final figure in the set. I am a big time Bela Lugosi fan and as much as I love knockoff Godzilla, I am officially declaring this cheap Dracula figure to be the best of the bunch. Something about this knockoff Dracula just strikes me as correct, this is of course despite the fact that he is probably one of the most incorrect figures of the bunch.  His skin color is all wrong, his lips appear to be those novelty wax lips sold around Halloween time, and he looks nothing at all like Bela Lugosi... but it is the thought that counts. If they put any thought into these figures, that is.

Which they very clearly have not. It's time to talk about the giant pink elephant in the room that I have been trying to avoid up until now. Every one of these Creepy Classic figures is holding a baseball bat. If you stop and think about it for a minute, it doesn't make any since at all. Why would a monster as strong as the Wolfman or as powerful as Dracula need to carry a baseball bat? How would Godzilla even find a baseball bat large enough to hold onto? All valid questions but when you think about it even longer, you realize how friggin' awesome it makes these figures! Question. What is the the only thing more frightening than Frankenstein going on a rampage through your town? Answer. Frankenstein just beating the living shit out of anything that moves with a ball bat.

Actually all jokes aside it is a terrible idea to have every single one of these characters holding onto a ball bat. They were this close to looking like a real product until you realize that Universal Studios would never be so inept to do such a thing. Which brings us back full circle to the beginning of this post. Copyright laws. Creepy Classics appear to violate just about every copyright you would think Universal Studios would hold on these classic characters. This is where the beauty of international copyright laws come into play. You see no company here in the United States would be stupid enough to blatantly rip off Bela Lugosi's Dracula film. If they did, chances are they would get sued out the ass and these Creepy Classics would have never seen the light of day.

But over in China we enter a whole new set of rules that make little to no since. There is a reason why every cheap imitation or knockoff product known to mankind is manufactured in China. They are very lax on copyright laws over there. And while I am no expert on the matter I do know that if you change things just enough to differentiate yourself from the original source material, you can get away with bloody murder. Just have a look at this "Nintendo Polystation" for example. Anything is possible under Chinese Copyright laws.

So these Creepy Classics got as close as they legally could to there Universal Studios counterparts while not quite being the same thing. That my friends is the reason why every character is holding onto a baseball bat. It makes them different than anything seen in the film and therefore fall through just enough of a legal loophole to work. So how are these packages able to blatantly use the original films theatrical posters? A combination of two different things. For starters they have very cleverly removed any of the name stars... names from the artwork. If you look in the spot where it should say "Bela Lugosi" you will find nothing but a giant blank hole looking you in the face. The same goes for Boris Karloff, his name has been taken off from the Frankenstein artwork too! All of the other boxes follow suit and remove anyones name who might draw unwanted attention from copyright holders. Secondly, they have altered the poster artwork so that it doesn't quite match up with the originals. Text has been removed, backgrounds have been slightly changed, minor things have been added or subtracted and it has all been done in a way so that at first glance you don't realize it. Look close enough and you'll see that things are not quite right with Creepy Classics! It is almost a thing of beauty what they've done here to avoid getting sued by Universal Studios.

The final nail in the proverbial coffin for these things being just completely unlicensed and fake is the company itself. 'X one X Archive Inc.', there is a reason why you have never heard of them and a reason why they are impossible to track down online. It is a shell company that doesn't really exist that was probably created specifically for the purpose of creating these figures and then disappear into the night, impossible to track down and impossible to trace. After being manufactured someone sold them in bulk to Greenbrier International, who is not doing anything wrong in re-selling them, by the way. They are just a 3rd party warehouse distribution company who cannot be legally held responsible for this product. If Universal Studios ever caught wind of these things (which chances are they probably did) it would not even be worth there while to backtrack the company who created them. That my friends, is how Creepy Classics reaches stores in the United States and that is why this strange set of knockoff Universal Studio's figures are all holding baseball bats. Now aren't you glad we revisited them?

2 comments:

  1. Nice segment!

    I'll never look at a baseball bat the same way again, or think about one as much. Also, that Wolfman looks more like a monkey to me.

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  2. Thanks Martha! That Wolfman figure is... something else. You know what, your right it does kind of look like a rejected 'Planet of the Apes' figure!

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