To commemorate the anniversary of the global phenomenon game, Pokemon Go, an enormous festival is being held in Chicago. Hundreds of fans are converging on Grant Park, and so far no one has made the horrible pun Pokemon Chica-Go, so don't ruin the streak.
In honor of this unique game, I found a batch of one-of-a-kind bootleg products that might actually out-do almost every licensed toy in terms of greatness ...
1. Oddish Planter
When I was a kid we had chia pet. It was this animal-shaped thing you seeded and watered and would grow a neat coat of sprouts.
I was briefly obsessed with these in my youth. I mean, the comedic possibilities are endless. Birthdays, holidays, all I asked for were more Chia Pets. My parents finally cut me off when they realized I was putting all of my chia pets in a circle with the heads pointed inward, in order to grow a donut-shaped bush with like a dozen animal butts sticking out of it. It was a simpler time, then, and these knockoff Oddish planters are a pleasant reminder. There are also Bulbasaur ones, because that fits the "weird plant growing out of weird creature's back" theme. That said, these ones for a sea monster ...
or a "dragon" ...
... make about as much sense as a Pokemon wearing the skull of its dead mother (which is really a thing).
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Squirtle
Anyone who's ever had to sit through a Pokemon movie/show, hopefully with a younger relative, knows that Pokemon can only say their own names. Naturally, the worm turns on this quite quickly, from "adorable," to "earhole pain-inducing."
That's why there's a need for Pokemon action figures that, for whatever reason, can talk. I've been trying to get my kids into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I want them to feel less self-conscious about eating pizza I find in the sewer. Which is why these mashups are great for easing my kids off of Pokemon (at least until they realize that they can make the Pokemon have an actual vocabulary). They're also great for people who really struggle with puns.
Unfortunately, these toys are kind of hard to track down. But there are plenty of other accessories, like this T-Shirt:
The whole notion of a show-in-a-snowglobe got me thinking about St. Elsewhere. For those of you who don't know, the end of St. Elsewhere strongly implies that the entire hospital drama took place in the surprisingly racy mind of an autistic child. If, like me, you have to take everything literally, this means that every actor, commercial and character in the show takes place inside the kid's mind. Which means that any other show any of the actors have appeared on also existed solely in the child's brain (this is a real thing, don't laugh at me).
So, I decided to sit down and trace through the actors in St. Elsewhere and try to connect them to the Pokemon universe. Like that game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except ... no, actually it's the same, which keeps up with my M.O. of "never, ever having an original idea, ever." Holy Muk, was this ever hard. Turns out anime voice actors don't appear in a lot of mainstream shows. But I'm proud to say I did it, I proved that Pokemon is in the media universe that exists entirely inside Tommy Westphall's brain. Here's how it goes:
- Veronica Taylor was the voice of Pokemon Trainer Ash Ketchum in early seasons of the American dub for Pokemon
- Veronica Taylor was also the voice for an audio book written by Danielle Steele
- Steele wrote the book Changes, which was made into a no-doubt-crappy film featuring Patrick Duffy
- Duffy starred in the forgettable TGIF comedy Step by Step
- There is an episode of Step by Step where a character is watching TV and surprised that Michelle from Full House was played by two people
- Kimmy Gibler was a scary-looking character in Full House, played by actress Andrea Barber
- Barber also played Carrie Garman in an episode of St. Elsewhere.
This proves Pokemon only exists in the mind of an autistic boy, which I kinda suspected all along even before I had heard of Tommy Westphall and St. Elsewhere.
Whew, I need a beer ... and LUCKILY since St. Elsewhere had Howie Mandel, who was portrayed in a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live by Fred Armisen, and SNL alum Amy Poehler went on to star in Parks and Recreation, which my close friend "Dirty" Mike Nitzani was in a few episodes of, as well as appearing in some sketch comedy shorts with me .. that means I exist entirely in the brain of small, challenged boy. This means I am not real, so I can drink freely without fear of cirrhosis of the liver. I'll be right back.
Okay, with my bloodlust for organizational media-themed games sated, I turned my attention to actually evaluating these Pokemon Terrariums. There's solid detail in most of these (and there are a ton available on Etsy). If you think they're cute, enjoy browsing for the perfect one. I at first thought they were adorable, but then I pondered the issue of keeping a 1.5 inch creature in a 2.5-inch glass ball and I felt sad and icky. Long story short, I now only buy cage-free eggs.
4. Spongebob Pikachu
First of all, you may be wondering, "Why is Pikachu eating watermelon?," to which I give you the answer, "here is an unrelated photo of a watermelon carved to look like Pikachu."
The next thing you might be curious about is, "what exactly is this product for? What does it do?" Well, that's why I get paid the big bucks to investigate such posing questions. Here's what I found:
So, apparently, this is some sort of Harry Potter item, probably a golden sneech, used by Obama to drone strike our enemies at sonic speed. If you're looking to purchase this, they unfortunately seem to be unavailable (at least in America). However, I did find this shirt featuring the mashup ...
5. Ripped Mewtwo
Furries are interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics (Source: Wikipedia). Sounds innocent enough ... until you get exposed to the furry community and realize it's all a bunch of crazy fetishists. That's the only explanation I can come up with for this ripped sexy MewTwo action figure. For the record, MewTwo is supposed to look like this:
This bastardization of the lovable psychic-type Pokemon serves no discernible purpose except to get some unfortunately broken person hot and bothered. And that person is me, because this is awesome! It's like a Pokemon that can actually wrestle a G.I. Joe to the ground. Also, the figurine also serves as a visual warning of the effects of Doubling Up Forearm Day at the gym. Sadly, it looks like this figure is not available through normal channels. I even went to Chinatown and asked randos, it did not go well.
This is what I'm talking about: Bootleggers have the freedom to create awesome products that the Pokemon Company just doesn't have the huevos for. Speaking of huevos, I'm not a pervert. Still, I know that all of us, including me, have wondered if Pikachu can shoot his electric-type moves out of his own junk.
I tried to track down one of these products, and also a guy who could wire my house to only fit Japanese appliances, because I like a challenge. Turns out, there's a viable market for a Pikachu that charges stuff out of its butt. Also, from the Amazon reviews, it sounds like people are using it for, umm, alternative purposes ...
7. Spider-Man Pikachu
Believe it or not, what's most disturbing about these mini-statues is not, well, that they exist at all. It's that the photographer went to all the work to take a crisp photo but didn't bother to angle it in such a way that I would be able tell if Pika-spidey's hand is also his tail.
Don't try finding any Spider-Chu merch on Amazon. The combination of Marvel and Pokemon must have created an army of IP lawyers violently bursting through Jeff Bezos' doors with a sternly worded cease and desist letter.
Luckily, you can still get Peter Pika here, through Etsy. The feedback is amazing, with all 4- and 5-star reviews ... except for this guy, who seems a bit confused.
This is the perfect complement to my figure of Charizard crossed with the Joker (which is really just a normal Charizard that I burned the face off of using acid).
Okay look, two things. First of all, this is awesome and I want one as much as that wall behind it wants to be made of actual wood. Luckily, there are a ton available on Etsy. But second, the whole point of minimalist art is to not show any unnecessary details. For me, the giant carved "Pokemon" sign falls under "unnecessary details." I don't take the statue of Michelangelo's David and put a sign under it that reads "Gross Pornography"; that's just stating what's already been implied.
I think the Dragonite is my favorite wooden carved Pokemon clock. I really like how they merged the natural curves of a round timepiece and the arcs of the Dragonite's wings. On the flip side, an example of a clock I do not like would be this abomination:
9. Jamaican Pikachu
Fun fact: There are exclusive Pokemon in Go for each region of Earth, and Jamaica just happens to overlap between two of these exclusive regions. However, this has nothing to do with why someone decided to make a rasta Pikachu plushie.
If you are desperate to buy one, try this eBay listing. I say to only do this as a last resort because, well:
This knockoff made me wonder if there are other national-pride Pokemon bootlegs out there. I did not find any. But I did find this:
This is what psychic-type Pokemon were invented for: being brutally scalped to make lush, comfy footwear. And it's from famous Chinese upscale boutique retail site Alibaba, ensuring that this footwear will either suck toxins from my body or put more toxins in there (as if there was even room).
I mean, you could also order them from Amazon, but where's the fun gamble in that? Still, even if you do choose Amazon, you still get all the fun of completely nonsensical answers from people who probably don't speak English ...
11. Crystal Ball
What if my taste in decorations matures a lot faster than my taste in hobbies? Lucky for me, there is a whole world of options in terms of spectacular-looking Crystal Pokeballs.
There's the LED-flashing laser engraved pokeball, which is apparently so AMAZING that this reviewer received two broken ones and still gave it four stars:
There's this multicolored, rotating crystal pokeball. It seems really cool and is high-rated despite the questions section containing a bigger dodge than stepping out of the way of an egg-laden palm tree-casting solar beam.
Or this gorgeously understated model which comes with a free LED light base that absolutely will not work.
There is plenty more selection all over Etsy and Amazon via which to make your Christmas tree an obnoxious homage to the neon-filled streets of downtown Tokyo.
I hope these non-traditional items inspire you to go the non-traditional route of putting down the video games, going outside, meeting people and playing video games with them.