Bootleg toys- they have their reputation for a reason. Even saying the word bootleg evokes mental images of off-model figurines. Wonky eyed toys in the wrong color. China Town multipacks of toys where Spiderman, a Ninja Turtle, a sort-of Power Ranger, and Batman all coexist in microwaved, lopsided harmony.
But what do you do when the story is reversed? We expect little to no quality from bootlegs and know what we’re getting when we dive that dive. But when the script is flipped and we purchase official, licensed products that are so wrong that we wish they were bootlegs…well…that’s a situation worth examining. And today on NerdBot, we’re sailing this “so bad it should be bootleg” ship out to sea with none other than Pretty Solider (jk, Guardian, whatevs) Sailor Moon!
The year was the mid-1990s and Sailor Moon was exploding across international airwaves. At the time, we fans were too young to pick apart the show with fan theories. We were young and grateful and we just liked snacking.
But children are…very forgiving. And as you can see, the merchandise that was coming to North America versus what the kids in Japan were getting was very…different.
In Japan, Sailor Moon dolls were gorgeous. The faces were sweet, the designs were thoughtful. The wands and props were beautifully crafted. The sounds were as accurate as we could get out of those “stuff it with 500 batteries and listen to the speaker make scratchy noises” types of toys. And while Japan was getting toys from the show that, for the most part, were on-model and accurate, we got…
The chunky locket…the Frog-Faced Dolls…and this lovely Moon Cycle that never once made an appearance in the show.
But here in America, we were starved for content. And what happens when you’re starved? That’s right you eat what’s in front of you and you’re grateful for it. Haunted shampoo bottles? Perfect, we’ll take five. Uncanny Valley blank-robot face Sailor Moon Lipgloss? Perfect, smear it all over our face.
Fortunately, North America wasn’t the only country getting shafted in the toy department. After the final season of Sailor Moon (titled Sailor Stars) aired, Germany got this Sailor Star Fighter keychain/figurine/sad item/something. Now, this is the character.
And this is how she was translated into German.
As Sailor Moon fans got older (and someone out there assumed we have money), more luxury products began to emerge. Specifically, fewer toys. By this time, the petite figurines had better faces that poor little Sailor Venus over here…
Or this haunted Luna-P…
Therefore, it was time for jewelry to emerge.
Now, while fancy items like this Anna Sui purple chalice with a crystal ring are available for purchase, along with high-end makeup brushes, many of us prefer to scour eBay for bootleg jewelry. But many people are staunchly against bootlegs, which is fine. But in situations like these where the bootleg piece looks the same as the licensed piece….
Or these licensed watches that only hold a whisper of the Sailor Moon brand?
When you’re against the purchasing of bootlegs, it’s easy not to be tempted by two-dollar Space Swords, Deep Aqua Mirrors, and Cosmic Moon Brooches. But in situations like in this picture, where the licensed product and bootleg are side by side, is just disheartening.
But the fans have been heard, right? The newest available Sailor Moon merchandise will be beautiful, because all the ugly and malformed products have gotten out of their system, right?