The Beauty Of Bootlegs!

 Words and interview by Paul Clements.

Bootlegs and knockoffs are great fun. Toys, games, clothes, even restaurants are given the bootleggers twisted money hungry treatment. It’s a joy, in this age of brands and copywrite, to see piss taking creations, mutations and hybrids.
We get to see what our culture looks like through the eyes of sweatshop workers and people who have no clue who Iron Man or Superman is.

I love looking at bootlegs , and popular YouTubers like Ashens make a living out of reviewing and showing us the abominations and aberrations, fake gameboys and playstations.

Woody! Buzz! Batman! Leonardo! They’re all RUINED FOREVER. I’ve seen some cheap knock-off toys in my time, and these are… some… of them.


It was a great day then, that I was sent a link by my friend @GI3MO_ to a twitter account and FB page devoted to the appreciation of this weird industry. Sure you could Google it, you could go on pinterest or some crap like that but what the world of bootleg appreciation needs is a curator, someone with an eye for the best, the funniest, an editor to wade through the crap and get you the diamonds. That person is @RedBardIsCool the curator of crud @bootleg_stuff and @bootlegpage

@Bootleg_Stuff – Twitter

A page devoted to laughing at bootlegged goods!!


How did you come to be a curator of bootleg pictures and memes?

In late 2014 I started thinking it’d be fun to start a page on facebook. It took me a few days to think of something to make a page around, and while I was thinking, I remember noticing that I had a lot of pictures of bootlegs saved on my computer–I already had a quite a bit of material on my computer, so why not start a page about bootlegs? And here we are today!


I remember my 1st bootleg experience was a flurescent T-Shirt of the turtles in 1988 I got it in Burgess Hill market and they all had the wrong eye masks and it said something like ‘cowabugga’  do you remember your first experience of seeing a bootleg?

I don’t remember my first time seeing a bootleg, but I remember the first time I really looked into it. In high school I got REALLY into Fate/Zero and I wanted a figure of Saber, but they were so expensive. After combing through eBay, I eventually found one that was like, half the price of the others despite looking to be the same quality, so I bought it. When it arrived though, it immediately became apparent that I bought a bootleg without realizing it… her skintone was inconsistent and (because it was one of those figures with replaceable faces) one of the faces didn’t fit!


Which country has the funniest bootleg merch?
Either China or Malaysia. Moreso than any other country’s bootlegs they’re absolutely riddled with hilarious mistranslations. Plus, I notice that Malaysia tends to have more knock-off American business (the first thing that comes to mind is a restaurant called Facefood written like the Facebook logo) than any other country.
If you could divide the types of mistake into categories what would they be?

Mistranslations, logo theft, use of licensed character(s), generic names, bad photoshop, apps, toys, use of excessive number of IPs/logos/characters on one item


What would you say is your personal favourite so far?

I don’t really have a single favorite, but this is the first one that comes to mind…


What is the scariest/ ugliest one you have seen?
Without a doubt, is the Minion bootleg app. Most of the scariest ones I’ve seen are bootleg apps, believe it or not.

What do you think it is about bootlegs that makes them so funny/awesome?

Knowing that someone somewhere got paid to sit down and say, “If we can pull this off, it’ll fool everyone and we’ll be rich!” so they pour all this effort into trying to make a replica and they (usually) fail. And when they fail, they tend to fail horrifically. Did they honestly think, after all that effort, tha it would fool anyone? Like that Minion game, did someone make it and honestly think that kids everywhere are just DYING to play a game about a pregnant Minion? How did they make these things and think they were okay? Who let them be on store shelves? These are the questions that keep me up at night!

What are your top 5 bootleg pictures?

This classic…


A licensed character being used illegally with another character’s name and… Obama. If there were to ever be a bootleg hall of fame, this would need to be the centerpiece of the collection. This is definitely one of the more well-known bootlegs out there–I’d bet it’s reached that status where, because it’s so well known, it’s probably worth more than an actual Sonic or Harry Potter (or Obama?) backpack and I think that’s beautiful.


I only recently saw this one, a friend of mine sent it to me saying that one of his friend’s found this. As well crafted as this is, it’s still using a licensed character for profit, ergo, a bootleg.
But it’s because it’s so well-crafted, and the fact that it’s Shrek, of all characters, that makes it such a great bootleg! Who walks into a jewelry store and asks for a diamond Shrek earring (or maybe it’s a pin)? Who thought this would be worth their time?
Who thought the Internet WOULDN’T find out?
Oh, yes, my favorite picture of Nirvana. How could I forget? 

Sometimes I think I only love this one so much because I live in Massachusetts for most of the year (I bounce between MA and OK a lot) and I’m okay with that.


Skullgirls is my absolute favorite fighting game, I promise you, Poison isn’t from Skullgirls. Moreover, there isn’t a Skullgirls 2. And even moreover from that, when it was first discovered, I shared it from the Skullgirls facebook page (I didn’t have a twitter page for Bootleg Stuff set up yet at the time) because I thought it was hilarious that they were showing everyone that there was a bootleg Skullgirls game on the app store. A few months later, I got a message from Peter Bartholow, the CEO of Lab Zero (the development team that made Skullgirls) submitting it to be posted on the page. After confirming that it was really him, I had a very fangirly moment where I totally starstruck that the CEO of the developers who made my favorite fighting game messaged my page. I bragged to my friends about it and everything.


Are there any bootlegs which are too rude for twitter , and if so can you describe them?
Absolutely. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen a fair number of bootlegs that contain racial slurs, and I never post them anywhere. There’s bootlegs that are disgusting in a funny way like that Minion Pregnancy game, but bootlegs, or anything at all actually, that contain racial slurs are just disgusting.
Do you ever have to check if submissions are photoshopped?

If it looks really dubious, yes. I go to Google first, but it usually doesn’t do much, so I’ll just ask the person submitting the picture. I find that most of the time that I do that though, they’ll tell me something like, “I dunno’ I just found it on the internet” and when I ask them where they found it, suddenly they forget. If I think it’s funny anyways, I’ll take a chance and post it (usually someone will point out if it’s photoshopped in the comments), and if it turns out to be photoshopped I just don’t post it again.


Well thanks for letting us interview you keep up the good work , i cant wait to see the next bootleg. Keep up the good work! :D

Its Crazy isn’t it… Some bootlegs end up being worth more than the real thing!?

 Words and interview by Paul Clements.