One of the great things about our global economy, apart from the wonderful opportunities available for peasants in third-world sweatshops, is the mysterious way art, commerce, and disdain for copyright laws come together to create cheap gimmicks for children. Case in point: puffy stickers.
Once the decorating choice of 4th-graders everywhere, the puffy sticker has recently been replaced in the hearts of schoolchildren by newer, more garish self-adhesive creations. But there was a time when a notebook or a about-to-be-painted bedroom wall was not complete without these colorful, slightly-yielding accoutrements.
The puffy stickers highlighted today feature a raft of swiped, traced, illegally copied, and otherwise ripped off characters from Japanese anime and SF pop culture; some instantly recognizable, others more obscure. I like to think that a close examination of bootlegged merchandise reveals the inherent power in these images - stripped of context and devoid of any kind of ancillary merchandise, these characters possess strange hypnotic powers over the minds of children, and adults who think like children. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
This example features an obvious Great Mazinger and two characters from Starzinger, Jan Kugo and Don Haka, otherwise known as Jesse Dart and Porkos. Also visible is a really poorly traced Getta Robo head - the head of Getta One - and a couple of generic spaceships, one of which faintly resembles the Phoenix from Gatchaman, but I'm not going to push it. Let's move on.
Our second example is an even more confusing mixed bag: an axe-wielding Getta Robo looms over a strangely grinning Danguard Ace while Jinpei's swallow vehicle from Gatchaman II and Sir Jogo's space scooter from Starzinger flit around in the background. Watching all this is the disembodied head of Voltes V. At the top is a confusing vehicle that seems to be made up of bits and pieces of other machines; the only one that leaps to mind is the Blugar (aka "Rydoto") from Raideen. And that's a "maybe". The bird nose doesn't fit at all.
Just when you thought things couldn't get more obscure - and let me tell you, it's hard to get more obscure than bootleg Taiwanese puffy stickers of Japanese cartoon characters - here comes sticker #3!
Okay, so there's Danguard Ace's head, and the God Phoenix from Gatchaman II, but what the heck are the rest of those things? Okay, the robot, it's poorly drawn, but my research indicates it's none other than Daitetsujin 17!
Created by Shotaro Ishinomori as sort of a ersatz Gigantor/Giant Robo, this super robot was the star of a live-action series that was released in English on two VHS compilations entitled "Brain 17" and "Revenge Of The Defenders." But that bulbous-bodied, spike-nosed spaceship... what could that be from?
It's the Galaxy Runner from Message From Space, the 1978 Toei Star Wars-inspired space epic starring Vic Morrow and Sonny Chiba! How cool is that? Very cool, believe me. One last piece of the puzzle to dope out here; what the hell is that flying dinosaur bird thing? Only two options spring to mind.
It's either Rocross from the Mitsuteru Yokayama series Babel 2, or Zok from the Hanna-Barbera series The Herculoids! Or maybe they got together and had a baby and this was the baby grown up. I dunno. Sometimes the world of booleg anime merchandise leads down strange paths. Keep your eyes open, kids, you never know what lurks on the dusty aisles of your local convenience store!