I will now be updating with a new blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and for this post I will be breaking from my usual Character / Toy figure history and try to clear up some confusion. I have noticed along the way that people are calling things Knock-offs or Bootlegs simply due to it not being a Hasbro product. I have touched on some of this already, but it is good to put it all in one place. So here goes…
There are several categories Transformers fit into.:
- Hasbro: Responsible for bringing Transformers to the western world from 1984 to present.
- Takara (now Takara-Tomy): Responsible for creating the initial lines of transforming toys that leased them to Hasbro and other toy makers. Hasbro and Takara have an agreement to both make Transformers. (Cannot be considered a Knock-Off)
- Non-Hasbro, Non-Takara companies: These leased the rights to the toys early on and were present all over the world. (Not considered a Knock-Off, they had the right to make them.) RadioShack leased the rights to the pre-Hasbro version of Shockwave is just one example of Takara leasing out the molds.
- Third Party makers: These guys make some toys that people want and Hasbro or Takara has not made yet, these are usually all new molds and come close to being accurate to what the product should be, they also make add-ons to go along with existing Hasbro or Takara toys such as weapons or new head sculpts to get the figure one step closer to looking like it should. (again should not be considered a Knock-Off, these are usually consistent with manufacturing standards and materials that are similar to the actual Hasbro or Takara products.) TFC created the Hercules set of construction vehicles that transform into robots that combine into one huge transformer, very similar to devastator… same colors, similar look but bigger and more detailed.. still cannot be called a Knock-Off, more of a homage, they used completely different names and molds to legally separate themselves from getting sued. People wanted a new toy and Hasbro was not doing the job. The price points on these toys are usually higher then the below Knock-Offs due to the standards and materials they use
- Knock-Offs or Bootlegs: finally we get to this label that people love to throw around. So what really makes a toy a Knock-Off? Well a toy is not licensed by Hasbro or Takara for a start. Use substandard thinner plastics, low manufacturing standards and cheap foreign labor. These usually can be spotted pretty easily, they come in different colors, look oddly close to familiar TF toys with odd sounding names usually on a blister card and are very cheap. They break fairly easily or can fall apart as well. Resale value is next to non and only have an appeal as a collector item some who collect that sort of thing or parents who have no budgets to buy the more superior Hasbro toy. (My Brother easily obtained a Knock-Off full sized G1 Devastator set for my Nephew for Christmas in 1985 and each toy was a different color and broke within the first few minutes of him playing with it.) I knowingly bought a Knock-Off product, a Mini Devastator toy. He was dirt cheap and cost more to ship from Japan then to buy, $1.50 for the toy and around $12.50 for shipping. It is cheaply made and the individual parts do have vehicle modes but not robot modes. Right now he looks good combined behind the individual vehicle modes of my G1 Constructicons (I do not have the parts to combine them yet). I figure when I get the new Hasbro Combiner Wars Devastator I will put him in the back combined with the G1’s in robot mode in front of him and the Knock-Off’s in vehicle modes in front of them. Will give an interesting perspective in my mind. If I see the Knock-Off full size Devastator toy again I am thinking of buying him just to put him in his combined mode for show. (I had the opportunity to buy one before but hesitated and it was gone 15 minutes later at a convention.)
So let us review for a moment, Not all Non-Hasbro toys are Knock-Offs, we can not label them all with that tired moniker! There are people out there that wish to honor the Transformers and give more options by making toys for us to buy. Hasbro is not the be all and end all in this industry. If it was not for Takara leasing them the rights in the first place we would have nothing! Takara leased the right to other companies as well all over the world and these are totally collectible and can garner huge amounts of money. In my Starscream post I mentioned the controversial KingDam 6 Starscream I own. He has been labeled as a Knock-Off but appears to be a Pre-Hasbro product that Takara leased the molds out to another company. You can continue to use the Knock-Off or Bootleg names if you wish but I thought you may like to know what the different types of toys are and where Knock-Offs fall in there for someone who collects. Other Collectors can disagree and so can you, leave me a comment if you want but please no foul language, no flaming or what not, let us be civil here. Everyone has a right to an opinion. Thank you for reading and I will be posting a new blog on another Transformer on Monday unless breaking news happens and I will get you that as soon as I can.