The longest-running animated series of all time is "The Simpsons." Created by Matt Groening way back in late 1980s, the show just finished its 24th season and has inspired a ton of official merchandise, including record albums, video games, toys and more. It’s also inspired a flabbergasting amount of bootleg merchandise, knocked out by unscrupulous hucksters to make quick cash. In this feature, we’ll spotlight 11 truly weird bootleg Simpsons items.
“Bad Bart” T-Shirt
Bart Simpson t-shirts were the prime examples of bootleg merchandise in the 1990s, and some were more successful than others. This is probably the single most inept rendition of the character we’ve seen, as it gets just about everything wrong. The creepily realistic stubble on the side of his head, the bizarre matchy-matchy cap, skateboard and shorts ensemble, and even the catchphrase, “Who The Hello Are You?” That’s the work of a non-native English speaker, no doubt.
Many of the bootleg toys you see in dollar stores and other shady retail operations are made by fly-by-night factories that get ahold of plastic molds and use them to make their own products. That’s obviously the case with this patently insane “Lucky Doll,” which is a demented fusion of a Homer Simpson head, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle body and a skateboard the size of a Toyota Prius. To further confuse the issue, the printed card has pictures of Troll Dolls racing jeeps. It’s a real mystery.
These were spotted in a Los Angeles market and they’re really perplexing. Boxer shorts with actual "The Simpsons" characters are readily available at your local clothing store, but these look like somebody got a fax about what the show was about and used clip art to do the rest. They got the logo right, but who is that weird beer-drinking guy? Is it supposed to be Barney Gumbel, or just a piece of clip art that they didn't even bother coloring yellow?
"Turist Style" T-Shirt
This is an incredibly confusing oddity for a number of reasons. The odd spelling of “tourist” makes us think it’s from a Latin American country, but the rest of the text is in English. The “Bart Untiring” seems to be a reference to the character’s depicted sexual stamina, as the crude illustrations picture him engaged in coitus in a number of locales. The weirdest thing, though, is that his sexual partner appears to be either Todd or Rodd Flanders, the prissy neighbor boys. We had no idea Bart swung that way.
Belgian Air Cadets Patch
Not really sure why the Belgian Air Force’s cadet class of 1997 decided to commemorate their military service with totally bizarre Simpsons patches, but the world is better for it. There are five different patches, two of which feature Bart Simpson’s bare ass. Is there something you’re trying to tell us, Belgium? The best one, however, is the French Suicide Helicopter Bomber Team, which features Scratchy (of "Itchy & Scratchy" fame) with a bunch of dynamite stuffed in his ears. That’s the sign of a serious and professional military right there.
Persian Gulf War Ad
Artists for Limited Military Spending was a New York group that produced political posters in the 1990s. This one was released in 1992 to draw attention to the Persian Gulf War (you know, the last time we went to Iraq). By that year, the war had pretty much faded from the public’s consciousness, but there were still casualties happening. Obviously Bart Simpson was used as a symbol of the American public’s ignorance and desire for entertainment over information. This poster is an incredibly valuable collector’s item today.
"It's a Black Thing" T-Shirt
There’s a whole subgenre of Bart Simpson merchandise where he’s depicted as a proud black man. Most of them have him dunking a basketball or rapping, but this one goes for a more conscious approach, covering Bart’s spiky hair with a traditional kufi cap and his feet with a pair of Fila sneakers. Most importantly, it also uses him as a vehicle for liberation ideology, demanding we “free South Africa and America too.” This wasn’t the only Afrocentric “Black Bart” shirt, but it was the nuttiest.
Homer Simpson Pikachu Socks
If you didn’t know better, you’d think that these bizarre socks – which fuse the head of Homer Simpson with the body of electric mouse pokemon Pikachu – were the creation of some Tumblr hipster with a bunch of spare time. But that tell-tale “Made In Korea” on the tag lets you know that these are an authentic mass-produced article of clothing. Obviously, some underpaid Korean production artist did a Google image search, went with what they thought was the cutest picture and put it into the machine. The end result was a fusion of East and West that is just too damn weird.
"Baet Simpson" T-Shirt
Easily the most inept bootleg item on this list, this t-shirt was spotted at a discount mall. Even though it has “The Simpsons” on it three times, there’s no way in hell anybody would think this was a legit item. From the use of Comic Sans for the text font to the translator-mangled catchphrase (“Don’t Have A Box New”) and even the misspelling of the character’s name, this is a truly epic bootleg mess. You could probably win a million ironic hipster points if you found this and wore it.
Bart The General
It’s a stretch to call this merchandise, but it is one of the weirdest Simpsons-related things ever made, so here we go. "Bart The General" is a series of deeply disturbing animated movies created by an individual known only as GHXYK2. The first one was released in 2006, with additional installments dropping every few years. The “storyline" follows an Australian thug named Toadfish who moves into the Simpsons’ house, gets with Marge, and then things get really weird. One website describes it as "the sort of stuff that would make David Lynch piss his pants." It’s amazing that Fox has let these videos stay up as long as they have, but maybe they’re cursed.
Next: "The Simpsons" Best Episodes From Each Season
"Safe Sex" T-Shirt
People deputized Bart Simpson for dozens of causes – sports teams, rap labels, etc. – but probably the most unusual unauthorized use of the character came in 1990, when attendees at the Sixth International Conference on AIDS were seen wearing a striking bootleg t-shirt picturing Bart in a black “Silence=Death” shirt and holding a bright pink condom. They were created by a San Francisco entrepreneur who sold out of his print run almost instantly, and are now a serious collector’s item.