Tuesday, August 15, 2023

From Bootleg Tapes to Faux Funko Pops, Pop-Culture Fans Create All Kinds of Wild Stuff

Back in the day fans of bands would sometimes make bootleg tapes of their rarer B-sides, lives shows, and so forth. The Grateful Dead is a big example of this, but it has happened with many music artists. Fan-created VHS tapes abounded too, as well as shirts and other not-quite-legit merchandise. With the rise of Youtube and such you now see that stuff streaming online more, but fan-created products that both celebrate an artist and cash in on their name remain to this day. Hence, when I read this article by James Powel for, "USA Today," about what are essentially bootleg Funko Pops of Taylor Swift, I smiled in recognition of a time-honored trend.

Homemade Funko Pops are a popular industry. With some careful wording (always just say, "Figure," and never, "Funko," for instance) you can find all kinds of custom Funko Pops on Etsy or other sites. The trend is common with other popular items that maybe haven't had an official product made for them as well. I have a number of not-Lego minifigures of Moon Knight that I've bought at conventions or online from those who make custom ones that--again--are not Lego, but if we're honest are bootleg Lego. Moon Knight is finally getting an official Lego figure, but plenty of other fan-made options have been around for years.

Lego, but not Lego.

If you love something specific in popular culture (a movie, television show, band, comic, or etc.) you've undoubtedly met fans who feel the same way. A number of those fans have probably found a way to express that affection through unofficial/bootleg products. They continue to exist in a legal gray area (besides when trying to pass a fake off as authentic as that gets shut down fast) and are an intriguing way to see how we as a population interact with the mass-media products we love. Whether is a fanzine about comics or a DVD with clips of an old concert, if an official item doesn't exist, the odds are good fans will make it themselves.

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