The Solaris guide to bootleg toys…

It’s no secret that I really like toys. Growing up I was obsessed with Star Wars and Masters of the Universe and after that came the whole 90ties limited edition art toy movement. Although I feel that the massive art toy bubble is kinda over, I still get excited about a great designed piece of plastic. I feel there are three categories a grown man like me can still get excited about: Vintage toys from my childhood, selected pieces of the art toy movement and… bootleg toys. What? BOOTLEG TOYS? Now what’s that crazy thing?!

Well… first of all, it’s exactly what it says: A knockoff toy based on a popular franchise. Normally these bootlegs can be found in your local 1€ store and are lovingly made in China.

These can be re-casted Batman figures labelled “Masked Avenger” or outright bootleg insanity like fusing Mr. T with a fire engine…

As you you can already see, these unlicensed creations have the potencial to be even better than the real thing!

Before we dive head first into the insanity of the bootleg toy scene, let’s recap on the three iconic childhood toys that haunt us obsessives to this day: Star Wars, GI Joe and Masters of the Universe. All awesome toys, but they had iconic artwork and packaging too. From the original vintage Kenner Star Wars packaging, to GI Joes action packed renderings of the characters and MotU’s iconic 80ties font on the red exploding rocks: These are the things toy geeks dreams are made of! 

Now let’s fast forward to the art toy movement. I guess having toys designed by artists and designers really elevated the format from being kids stuff to be seen as valuable art objects. Buying a limited piece of plastic felt like purchasing a miniature sculpture at an ( more or less ) affordable price. Plus the toys tied in with street fashion, urban music and other more mature pop sensibilities. You can read more about it here:

All these obsessive thoughts about toys gave birth to an interesting question:

So what if you could create these cool toys yourself? What if you were in control of design, manufacturing and distribution? Would that not be awesome? HELL YES IT WOULD BE!

So surprise, surprise: Slowly but surely a new generation of toy creators emerged who didn’t have the money like big toy companies or the street cred of a famous artist. Nevertheless they craved to express themselves via the medium of collectable figures!

These very committed/insane people taught themselves to hack apart toys, create their own packaging, pour some colourful resin and sell their creations to a growing collectors market via social media. So fucking DIY!

What’s the appeal? First of all: These toys are coming from people who grew up on the same toys that I did and throw in a lot of call backs to the old figures and packaging we discussed earlier. Then I just admire the DIY ethos of just crafting your own products in the back of your house, like a fanzine just in plastic. Last but not least are you purchasing directly from the artist and the pieces are way more limited and weird than the stuff you can buy in the stores!

Got it? Good…

So let’s talk a little bit about my favorite artists out there and the toys they create…

1) The Sucklord

Let’s start at the beginning: Morgan Phillips, bootleg toymaker extraordinaire hailing from NYC. It kinda all started for me with him. His fusing of my beloved Star Wars with Street Wear and Pop Culture really caught my attention: Stussy lightsabers, KISS Stormtrooper helmets and a PIMP Boba Fett? I am all in!

 The infamous Sucklord and Mary Paper$
The infamous Sucklord and Mary Paper$

Making toys of his friends in full villain mode or doing a gay Stormtrooper all in pink, Sucklord opened the door for me to all things self-made and bootleg. His weird creations and irreverent humour is to this day Punk as fuck! He is clever, frustrated and very self-deprecating and I can only strongly advise you to check out all his great YouTube content as well. But warning: NSFW!

“The Sucklord Approach” inspired a whole new generation of toy makers like…

2) Has No Talent

Star Wars and GI Joe set the bar high when it comes to iconic toy packaging so I love how Chad Herrington aka HasNoTalent is bringing back the vintage cards with twist. Plus I am loving all kinds of clear plastic. Really digging is chrome toys also. And: Look at that great Suckadelic collabo!

As I purchased a couple of toys from him recently I could bully him into a quick Q&A…

1) Hi man. How did you get caught up in the toy hustle?

I started making card kits for vintage figures. Over about a year it just blossomed into this full resin slinging, figure and card making madness that I’m doing today. 

2) How would you explain the bootleg toy scene to someone who only had a couple of Star Wars toys back in the 80ties…

The actual “scene” is a bit like high school drama. Someone is always mad at someone else for one thing or another. The majority of time it’s not even a problem. Just someone in the background making up stories and creating lame hype to attract attention. The scene in a context from making bootleg toys, It’s like taking my childhood back. All the figures that I used to play with but in customized colors and combinations. 

3) Is it easy to connect with collectors and shift your toys without any professional distribution channels?

At first no. I received a lot of negativity from people saying that I was tainting the collecting field. Tons of people saying that I shouldn’t be re-carding vintage figures because they can be misrepresented as being in they’re original packaging. Going more of the customised route now, seems more exceptable in general. 

4) What is the most exciting thing about crafting your own toys?

When I come up with a new idea for something,  sculpt it out or Kit-Bash it together, mold it, cast it, remove and clean it up. Holding that finished item in my hand is a pretty exciting thing!

5) What’s next in the pipeline for HasNoTalent?

You’ll have to follow me on instagram at @hasnotalent to see what’s next!✊

3) Healey Made

When it comes to remixing Star Wars toys with a Designers touch Healy Made could be called the Dieter Rams of the bootleg scene. Minimal packaging, clear shapes and crazy colourways make this very easy on the eye and the pieces looks great next to your MacBook Air.

Jumping back from the USA to the UK…

4) Trap Toys

Now whilst the above artists reference heavily Star Wars, Trap Toys are all about the 90ties HipHop references. I still need to get my hands on their amazing Easy-He toy that just looks like the real thing… pure fire! But all their amazing creations sell out so quick that it’s really hard to purchase any of their creations… booo!

5) Honorable mentions

Now obviously they are so many more artists out there doing great things, I wouldn’t be able to mention them all. But that’s the fun part of it: Like a record collector it’s all about digging deep to find the most ridiculous and exciting pieces! So here are four of the latest toys I admired…

Trashor by 8BitZombie

80ties Skate meets Zombie He-Man… what’s not to like? Comes with a skateboard and rad cover art. Already sold out but check out all the other great 80ties/90ties mash up stuff he has on his website!

Sexy Motherfucker by GalacticJerkbags

Sucklord fan turns into a toymaker himself! Awesome Prince action figure with great card artwork. The cart maketh the toy!

Hype Beast Man by RYCA

Very tempted to get this bad boy! Once again based on the Masters of the Universe toy line, you gotta love a Beast Man rocking Yeezys and Supreme! You might know this artist from making moves in the Street Art scene also, remixing the smiley logo for Fatboy Slim.

Jumbo Uzay Trooper by DollarSlice

Basically a bootleg of a bootleg. DollarSlice took the legendary blue trooper from the Turkish bootleg Star Wars toyline Uzay and blew him up to epic proportions! Would have been great to add some oversized Uzay card as well but I understand why he didn’t do it.

Last but not least… here is MY stab at toy design!

Check out the Solaris Bots: Sculpted, cast and painted myself back in 2002 during my time at Central St Martins. If I only just switched to creating smaller and carded figures. Maybe I might have been a resin toy maker superstar by now!

For the head I reused some bootleg action figures from the 1€ store, the rest of the toy might have been inspired by Jack from Tekken or Terminator… who knows.

Looking at them now I must say, I still dig em! 😀

So with all this out of the way and all the knowledge gained… please enjoy my massive bootleg toy review video! Class dismissed…

Check out the following great toy creators:

Suckadelic — A New Hope

I have no idea how I got into all this but somehow I managed to enter the twisted world of Suckadelic bootleg toys, ruled by Morgan Phillips aka The Sucklord, and started collecting his bootleg toys around 2005.

The super funny twists on Star Wars and pop culture in general appealed to me straight away plus the fact that The Sucklord hand crafts each toy in his secret base in Chinatown NYC really set it apart from the other Designer Toys I was used to.

This really felt underground and exciting, especially as his other references apart from Star Wars were Hip Hop, Streetwear and Graffiti.

After visiting his workshop in New York I knew I had to interview this guy! So here we are.

Enjoy this exchange which happened via email in 2007…

Hi Sucklord! I can’t believe Suckadelic is still a one man operation! How does the Sucklord find the time to do all the designing, supervising and pimping of Suckadelic?

I don’t fucking know, to be honest. I wonder about that all the time. I guess because it’s my job, my hobby, and my leisure time all at once. It’s all I do (almost). It’s lots of late hours and time saving corner cutting that keeps it going (somehow).

Plus I’m a fucking obsessive maniac and super organized…

Peeps might associate Suckadelic mostly with the small bootleg figures. Now you just released the first suckadelic rotocast with mad accessoires. Can you shed some light on the design and production process?

Ahh, it was nothing special. I just grabbed a blob of sculpey and hewed it out. then I made some molds and casted the pieces. then I did some finishing and simple tooling on the castings. I sent that to the factory in China along with the color specs. After that it was a bunch of back and forth with them fussing on details for a few months. Then one day all of a sudden they just showed up.

With Lucas milking the Star Wars franchise to the fullest, a lot of old school fans feel screwed over. What are your feelings towards the prequels and the soon to be produced live action tv series?

Well, they aren’t very good for the most part, but I still love them for what they are. I mean they look great and they feel like Star Wars movies overall. There are some really choice bits in all three that I love. But I am really sorry that the storytelling is very lackluster.

I mean the story itself is great, but the execution is really bad, shockingly so. And it didn’t have to be that way. But I’m still happy they exist. I like watching them. If you are really committed to Star Wars, you find a way to love them.

The Suckadelic geek universe expanded massivly… with mad villains popping up everywhere. Can you shed some light on the backgrounds of Suckadelic regulars like Spooky Booty, Mary Papers and Crimson Suicide?

I just grab people around me and put them in the story. I don’t have a life outside of this thing that I do. If you are my friend, you wind up in a movie as a character with a figure. That’s what my friendship is.

These people that get close to me get a mask and a new name and their existing personality traits get slightly hyperized and that’s it. You get in where you fit in. These just happen to be the main women in my life, so there they are, supervillains.

The Sucklord always rocks the mad bling and ghetto blaster… and you keep on releasing breaks CDs mashing up various TV and Movie shit too. How important is Street culture to the style of Suckadelic?

It’s pretty important. I think that’s what sets it apart from other nerd worlds. the presence of hip hop and sneaker culture and cute girls. These are things you don’t necessarily associate with geeky comic book kids. It’s that literacy with both worlds that gives this thing it’s unique flavor and frame of reference. I mean, we’re from New York, even the nerds here are dope and get laid.

That’s what sucked me into the whole Suckadelic world actually. I feel that a lot of people might even envy geeks if they wouldn’t dress so crap. Because geeks care and know what they like and don’t like. A lot of hipsters just jump from one bandwagon to the other and don’t get excited by anything.

True. The nerds have way more passion. There is no reason why you can’t get excited about toys and movies and still dress cool and get girls. Hipsters are no fun, they hate everything.

Looks like Suckadelic has the first proper MC as well… give us some lodown on Vectar!

Oh yeah, Vectar, what’s his deal? We’ll he’s just some bottom shelf villain who is trying to come up. He and the Sucklord have had kind of rocky relationship. Vectar has done a lot of uncredited dirty work for the Sucklord and he’s sick of it. He’s tired of toiling in the shadows. It’s tough to best the Sucklord but the one thing he doesn’t do is rap. So Vectar is trying to distinguish himself in that field. Jury’s still out on weather the world is gonna go for him as a rapper, but ya gotta give it to the little cockroach for trying.

You guys keep on crashing conventions, thinking about that Vectar gig at the San Diego Comic Con. How is the response from the geeks? I mean, a lot of people take Conventions and Cosplay crazy serious and might feel you guys are trying to make fun of the whole thing…

Nah, no one gives a fuck. There are so many people at those things it’s getting harder and harder to make a dent. The effects of that rap show wore off in like 30 minutes. You got to keep hitting them over and over for them to even think about weather they are insulted. We’re gonna keep trying though…

Talking about commitment… what Tattoo did you get signed by Geekfather Stan Lee on that random pic I found on the net? Plus, how was the experience? Some people say it can be pretty shattering to meet ones heros…

Ehh, it was a Green Goblin tattoo. I was kind of over him by the time I met him. He let so much crap movies go by with his brand on it that I didn’t even care anymore. Love the classic comics, the Jack Kirby era, but all the movies suck, in my opinion, Yes, even Spider-Man.

Back to Suckadelic’s bootleg mash up style. How hard is it for a proper fan and collector to pick rare figures apart to create your artworks and figure prototypes?

No problem at all. I mean I haven’t really bashed anything too rare. I just buy a loosie off Ebay if I don’t want to chop my original. I play with my toys, so it doesn’t bother me to hack em up. Been doing it forever…

Looks like the big names getting into the Star Wars bootleggin’ game
as well…any thoughts on the KAWS Vader?

The Kaws piece is cool, but to me it’s more about his style than a direct riff on Star Wars. He is all about putting his skull and bones in all kinds of settings, the mickey mouse etc… Star Wars is just one more stop on the cultural reference train. I’m not knocking it, I like it, but that piece is not really about star wars so much as Kaws…

You collaborated with other artists like Bill Mc Mullen and exhibited in places like Alife in NYC. How did you hook up with them?

I don’t know, Just hanging out. You make friends, One thing leads to another…

What does the future hold for the Sucklord… any crazy shit in the pipeline for 2008?

Well yeah, what else am I gonna do? Stop now and go straight? Can’t do it. have to make crazy shit. Not sure specifically what it is yet. but I’m gonna keep making these bootleg 3 and 3/4″ figures for at least another year. I have about 10 more characters planned. Vectar will have one as well as his pals the Crystal Pharoah and Baron Darkowl.

Not sure if I’m gonna rush to make another vinyl. It’s cool having it, but I wonder if it’s worth the financial risk unless you have a really hot idea. Right now I’m not sure if any of the dozens of ideas for the next one are gonna fly with the fickle buying public. We’ll see.

Gonna keep the videos coming tho. There is a new Original Villain series that will start in 2008. It’s called, for now, TOY LORDS of CHINATOWN. It tells the backstory of the Sucklord and Vectar’s rivalry and their struggle to control the bootleg toy racket in New York. We have been shooting a bunch of stuff with lowrider bikes and lazer shootouts in Coney Island. It seems like it’s gonna be a fun series.

Music wise, I dunno. Maybe a Vectar album? I’m sick of the Star Wars breakbeats style albums. I want to make music that I can perform.

And finally… what are your top 5 Star Wars toys?


1) the 1978 cantina creatures esp Greedo (also R5-D4 and power droid, that whole series)

2) Vintage Giant Boba Fett

3) Force Battlers Emperor Palpatine

4) Kenner AT-AT

5) Almost all of the Galactic Heroes series (the bad guys anyway)

Thanks! Check out and get your mind blown!