We fans will forever debate the subject of who the 'best' of the big time horror villains is, but there's one thing that none of us can deny; when it comes to merchandising: A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger is king. Though Freddy is perhaps the horror villain that should by all means be least marketable to children, being a burnt-up child killer and all, the dream demon has nevertheless proven himself to be as marketable as Justin Bieber, with endless toys and products made in his likeness from the time he first came onto the scene straight through to today. From comic books to a pinball machine, a yo-yo to his own set of Nikes, Freddy is the undispusted master of merchandising, and there are very few products his face hasn't appeared on over the years. Hell, he even had his own line of candy containers, at one point!
Given his popularity from a marketing standpoint, it was only natural that Freddy would spawn not only officially licensed merchandise, but also unofficial bootlegs... and boy, did he ever. Though illegal to profit off the likeness of a character like Freddy without official approval, those legal issues can be avoided by slightly changing the look of the character, or simply omitting his name in the marketing. With so many iconic pieces to the Freddy character, like the burn scars, the hat, the glove and the Christmas sweater, Freddy opened himself up to all sorts of unlicensed merchandise, and you better believe that many opportunists have taken full advantage!
Fresh off of a line of bootlegs clearly inspired by the ever popular Masters of the Universe toys, a company by the name of Sungold next set their sights on monster toys, with a line that was quite cleverly called... "Monster." Included in the line were typical monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula, alongside a guy who looked a whole lot like Freddy Krueger. Only instead of wearing a red and green striped sweater, this guy decided to raid Waldo's wardrobe, blue jeans and all. He also appears to have swapped out his razor fingers for grey colored crinkle-cut fries... a much more delicious option.
Though none of the figures in the Sungold Monster line were actually given names, the same figures were later re-released by a company called Simba under the title "Monster Vampires," and in that line this bootleg Freddy was finally awarded a proper God-given name: "Sharp Hand Joe." In the immortal words of ZZ Top: "Every girl's crazy 'bout Sharp Hand Joe." At least I think they said that.
Perhaps the most iconic of all the Freddy bootleg toys is "Nightmare Feddy," an example of a company altering Freddy's name rather than his look. I don't know the name of the company, but this was apparently released back in the '80s, and Feddy can often be found selling for a decent hunk of change over on eBay. There's just something so fun about saying the name Feddy, isn't there? I think I'll name my first-born that... whether it's a boy or a girl.
Freddy lost his glove, cut off his sleeves, hardened his nipples and became a professional wrestler with this figure, released by European company Mannix. Coming on the scene in the late '80s, Mannix originally specialized in knockoff toys of popular pro wrestlers, and then eventually came out with a line called "Monster Maniacs," fusing together parts from their wrestling toys and turning them into monsters. Jacked-up versions of both Jason and Freddy appeared in the line, Jason going under the moniker "The Crystal Lake Killer" and Freddy billed as "Nightmare Freddy" (ah, the "r" returns). So if you ever wondered what Freddy would look like if he started hitting the weights and became a WWE superstar, Mannix has got ya covered!
Freddy once again joined a gaggle of typical movie monsters in a line of PVC figures that Yolanda put out in Spain in 1992. 24 different monsters comprised the "Super Monstrous" line, Fred being the definite standout amongst the generic skeletons and zombies. I was lucky enough to recently score one of these off eBay for super cheap, and I find everything about the little knockoff Freddy to be totally charming; the dual gloves, rolled up sleeve, v-neck sweater and red eyes coming together to turn a frightening horror icon into an utterly loveable little creature of the night. The figure is of course unmistakably Freddy, but this bootleg offers enough changes to the look of the character to make it stand out as one of the cooler bootleg treatments he's been given. Certainly the cutest!
If there's one item on this list that I know the least about, it's this one. Actually, truth be told, I know absolutely nothing about this very odd doll. The picture you see above is the only picture I've ever managed to track down of it, though I must admit I am completely enchanted by the badass skull t-shirt, the hippie sweater and the suction cup hands. If I had to guess, I'd have to say it's some kind of old carnival toy, the prize for managing to pop one of those balloons that somehow cannot even be penetrated by the tip of a dart, thrown full-force and right on target. If anyone can provide us with any information about this thing, it'd be greatly appreciated!
In a perfect world, kids would have the option of collecting candy on Halloween night inside the head of a frightening killer of children... which I guess makes Mexico that perfect world I'm referring to. A recent eBay find, this trick or treat pail hails from the birthplace of the burrito, and I can only imagine the joy it helped bring to many a kid on El Dia De Los Muertos. I'm not sure how many other horror icons were given the trick or treat-ment by the company responsible for this, but the same seller was also selling a knockoff Chucky pail, which featured the same set of neon green eyes. Here in America, Freddy appeared on a few different candy bowls, but has yet to be given his very own trick or treat pail. Someday, Freddy. Someday.
Halloween + Freddy Krueger = $$$, which is why countless different companies over the years have used his likeness to make a quick buck in October, utilizing the legal loophole of simply pretending their masks are not depicting Freddy Krueger, even when they obviously are. This is just one of many such masks I've come across in my travels, and it can often be found selling under the hilarious moniker "Burnt Face Man." Burnt Face Man vs. Hockey Mask Killer.... now there's a horror film I'd like to see! Of course, you can't be Freddy, or Burnt Face Man, without the proper clothes...
Freddy certainly doesn't hold the copyright to a striped Christmas sweater, so there's no harm in making and selling one, as long as you play it cool... and the company that put this particular one out played it real damn cool, opting for the uber-generic title of "Night Killer Costume," rather than going for something a bit more on the nose. Guess they really didn't want to take any chances by throwing key words like "burnt," "nightmare" or "dream" in there. (Kudos on the incredible show of restraint, fellas.) What really sells this one is the model, who appears to think he's Freddy Krueger, and not the Christmas sweater-wearing Night Killer that he truly is. No matter how hard he wants you to think otherwise, there is no razor glove on his hand. Nice try though, guy. Speaking of which, you can't be Freddy, Burnt Face Man or a Night Killer without the final key piece to the Freddy puzzle...
Night Killer Costume photo courtesy of I-Mockery.
Night Killer Costume photo courtesy of I-Mockery.
The Fright Glove!! Outside of the package, this might as well be the officially licensed Freddy glove that you can find in any one of your local Halloween shops in October, because I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it is. But inside, the Fright Glove is one of the coolest pieces of bootleg Freddy merch ever made, for two reasons: 1) It finally gives a name to Freddy's favorite weapon, which went without one for far too long; and 2) the insanely badass imagery of the Devil himself wearing Freddy's glove... what more needs to be said? At last, your Halloween costume is complete. Just try not to tell people that you're Freddy Krueger, because you wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble!
What's your favorite piece of bootleg Freddy merch? Do you know of any others that you don't see listed on here? Leave a comment and let us know!