Ah the holidays are here! Sure, most folks think turkey, Santa and whatnot. But for me one special part of the holidays is CHAP MEI!
Who is this mysterious ninja lurking by my rice cooker…? Read on!
Yes, good old Chap Mei. Purveyor of quality generic or "knock off" toys. The best of the cheap.
Each year they take what they think is a winning combination of current trends and timeless toy classics and fire the product out into fine retailers like Big Lots and Rite-Aid. The toys are garish, crazy looking and just plain fun. They take me back to the days of Aisle 7C in the world of 1980′s Toys ‘r’ Us… When there were cheap toy wonders like "Dragonriders of the Styx," "Beast Warriors" and "Rocks, Bugs and Things." Toys that were just crazy often ripped off toys; no comic, no movie, no tee vee show.
What do we have today that’s unlicensed and fun? Not much alas (while GI Joe and Transformers are in fact in house brands, they are well beyond generic toys), just mainly good old Chap Mei!
And so far my yearly dose of Chap Mei is just starting to trickle in but not nearly in the #’s it used to!!! And ironically, this year’s lines are really fun.
Think "Indiana Jones" meets "The Mummy" riding on a giant freakin’ stag beetle. Good stuff!
So far at Big Lots all I’ve seen are the Adventure heroes single card figures (Bomani, King Tutenskull, Captain Sandy Storm, Skyboy Stratus) and the the Giant Crawler Playsets (Bomani & Scorpion, King Tutenskull & Serpent, Captain Sandy Storm & Stag Beetle).
No sign yet of the bigger playsets or the Anubis figure pack!!!
The ones I’d really like to find is the big drill vehicle with Marcus Mole! Drilltastic!
And this GIANT FREAKIN’ CAMEL! It’s like elephant size!!!! (Imagine GI Joe’s Dusty trampling Cobra on tha bad boy! WoooO!
The other big line for Chap Mei is VIKINGS! Why? Who knows, maybe they thought "Pathfinder" was going to be a big hit? LOL! They even have a very home made looking commercial on youtube:
In any case The Vikings line is fun, and is almost a "greatest hits" line as far as the animals are concerned. The Saber Tooth Tiger, Mammoth, Giant Baracuda and others all return from past Chap Mei lines to battle the brave Vikings! I’ve only seen the Midgard Serpent set in person, but the Viking guy there has ball jointed shoulders! A rare treat for Chap Mei! Bearskin Jarl has the ubiquitous "polar bear head helmet" that showed up in the Arctic line a few years back (the idea was recycled in the jungle line on the midget w/ stilts but as a warthog head. Hey, animal head hats are all the rage in toyland apparently).
Mmmm. War Mammoth! He’s almost as big as the Giant Camel! LOL!
Rite Aid is mostly the same stuff (beast packs, midgard serpent) but they also have a really neat 6" line called Ninja Curse. It features "snap & play" interchangeability! They had 2 of the 3 figures pictured on the packaging.
Sculpting and style are similar to Chap Mei’s older Ninja lines, but these boys are chock FULL of play value.
They sport interchangeable joints of various sorts (ball and socket joints as well as simple plugs) and loads of accessories with pegs and holsters.
Here’s the yellow guy disassembled:
and his purple buddy menacing my rice cooker:
This is the first time I’ve seen Chap Mei venture into a scale larger than 4", and some real thought went into these guys. The joints for the most part are quite solid (only Yellow Guy’s right knee is a bit loose.) My only real complaint is that the right arms have no cut joint in the elbow like the left, and are splayed out to the side. Rather awkwardly posed. Still, ninja fun was had by all (well, me, my wife and the cat that was "helping" me take photos."
I’m sure this line is not everyone’s cup of tea, as the colors are cornea-scorchingly wild. But hey, I love stuff like this!
Toys that are toys. Amen, brother.
PS. Seriously. I need to find that drill vehicle and the giant freakin’ camel.