Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a hit in China. The live-action movie starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a furry Pikachu has scored more than $48 million in the Chinese box office so far, according to box office tracker Ent Group.
With the success has come a flood of Pikachu knockoff toys from sellers who are more than eager to cash in on the Pokémon’s iconic image.
Internet users in China have been unearthing the worst Pikachu merch they can find and publishing them on Weibo, China’s Twitter, under the hashtag “Which factory made this Pikachu?”
Many of the products are available on the shopping website Taobao, where turnaround for merchandise is surprisingly quick.
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Taobao vendors can pounce on trends almost instantly and churn out products in response to the latest TV show or movie.
(Taobao is operated by Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, of which Goldthread is a part.)
Pikachu is the latest victim. Some of the knockoffs, though, look more like they came out of a Tim Burton movie than the Pokémon world.
Tired dinosaur Pikachu isn’t even the worst version out there. Some manufacturers seem to have missed the concept of the character completely.
One toy maker decided to switch Pikachu’s red cheeks with its eyes.
“My God, why would you make lovely Pikachu look like this?,” wrote one distressed Weibo user.
Other Chinese factories opted to use Pikachu’s likeness in daily household objects.
One cup has a straw hole right on Pikachu’s head, so it looks like you’re slurping Pikachu’s brains right through the straw.
China already has a reputation for knockoffs, but online shopping has taken it to an extreme.
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Impulse buying means many manufacturers are quick to respond to the latest trends with knockoff products.
When a Chinese Peppa Pig trailer featuring a Peppa Pig air blower went viral in January, it only took a week for air-blower sellers on Taobao to make a replica.
During that period, prices for air blowers on the site quadrupled.
Knockoff Pikachus are yet another sign of Chinese manufacturers’ savvy.
Adapted from an article first published in Abacus.