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L.A. County Sheriff's Car: Coming to a Wal-Mart (and Chinese Sweatshop) Near You

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Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge Charge this, China. - ZEV'S BLOG
The kids were apparently getting tired of pushing around those frumpy old Ford Crown Victorias that used to epitomize the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

A few lucky deputies have since upgraded to the menacing, pitbullish Dodge Charger -- and so upgrades the toy version, to a $3.99 doppelganger tricked out with lights, sirens and the iconic (or cursed, depending on your side of the law) "A Tradition of Service" logo.

L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is all over the deal...

... on his tech-suave (for a supervisor) news blog. The supe, or at least his bloggerlings, write that Jada Toys Inc. -- a big competitor of Mattel, especially in the toy-car department -- signed off with sheriff's officials last week on a 15,000-car run that will sell at Wal-Mart and feed 5 percent of its profits back into the public department.

Win-win, right?

Only loser (as usual): the underpaid workforce in China. But what's a little slave labor in the name of bedroom traffic stops? We can just see them now -- 15,000 snot-nosed Angelenos screeching up on Barbie and Ken for leud acts in the back of a pink toy Corvette.

OK, so we kind of want one.

Mattel actually sued Jada Toys back in 2007 for copying the "Hot Wheels" line with their own "Hot Rigz." Mattel lost, and now find themselves on the losing end of life again with their own law-enforcement car deal: They'll be recreating the Yuma Police Department's new fleet of SUVs.

Yes, Yuma. In other words -- Jada Toys 2, Mattel 0. Not that we're keeping score or anything.

From the county blog (clog?):

"I think they will do very well. Police vehicles have been very popular for the past few years," said Jason Richman of Jada Toys. He's not sure why but they seem to be equally popular with kids and adult collectors. And the market is split between realistic cars (like the L.A. County Sheriff's Department model) and generic or fantasy cars.

"Someone will take a Corvette and make it look like a police car," Richman said. ...

Sheriff's deputy Bill Brauberger said that a realistic depiction of the car was important to the department.

"Our perspective is we wanted it to be similar to what we actually have," he said. "When your department is as large as ours, it's good to have kids playing with them. We wanted them to look factually accurate, not bogus."

And with the ragetastic new sheriff's Chargers to work with, who needs a fantasy car? Sit tight -- they'll be fully stocked in your local 'Mart by Christmas.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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