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glazios
2011-04-11, 01:48 PM
TFW2005 reports that TakaraTomy have blanket-banned 3rd party TF products and accessories in Japan!

Takara Tomy bans third party custom Transformers Products in Japan? (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/takara-tomy-bans-third-party-custom-transformers-products-in-japan-171889/)

What the hell?! Seems like possibility is becoming reality, people, even if it is only for the Japanese fans at the moment...

Really hope this doesn't set a bad precident, 'cause that'd seriously suck.

NightHawk
2011-04-11, 02:38 PM
Yeah, I read that just too from FrenzyRumble's link on Facebook, this does suck but to be honest, there will always be retailers that will sell 3rd party stuff, unless Has/Tak actually "attack" the 3rd part companies there is still not so much to worry about in my opinion.

Warcry
2011-04-11, 02:40 PM
It makes sense that it would be Takara who did this first. Right now Hasbro can afford not to give a shit, but Takara seems to rely on the collector market for a much bigger slice of their sales. And since Takara used to be the ones who raked in all the "premium TF" cash that's now going to the third-party companies, they could make a case that the the third-party companies are seriously impacting their bottom line.

Not that this'll stop them, unless they plan on hitting the sites outside of Japan as well.

NightHawk
2011-04-11, 03:19 PM
Of course, this was already noted in the Fansproject Causality thread, but I feel that this deserves it's own thread, rather then going off topic about it in some other thread. (No offense Glazios.)

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/takara-tomy-bans-third-party-custom-transformers-products-in-japan-171889/

And here's the link to the news article, so let's discuss.

Personally, I find that TakaraTomy is taking it a wee bit too far, granted, people will be able to get these products either way via other online retailers, though I still find it nitpicky that they even ban 3rd party products that upgrade their toys, such as replacements hands, weapons, armor and what not.

Full figures I can understand, iGear's Faith Leader is a blatant copy of MP Prime and the Conehead's aren't really too different from the MP seekers either, even though some figures shouldn't be banned, but that's my opinion...copyright infringement remains copyright infringement, whether it is partly or fully and it simply cares not for opinion, only what the law states.

Still, what will this mean for the future? What will Hasbro do? Will they remain lenient or will they follow Takara's example and start doing the same here. Time will tell I guess.

tahukanuva
2011-04-11, 03:25 PM
Yeah. I can't say I'm surprised, or dissapointed really. The add-ons and head casts and what not were really cool, and didn't affect official sales at all. (The ones with a fast enough turnaround, like the Kup heads may have even helped a little) But these companies now releasing Rumbles and Reflectors and Springers and MP Seekers have pushed things too far. They were never likely to care about giving Kup a cigar or Hot Rod a gun, but when the companies start start trying to beat them to characters that've been announced (How many 3rd party Reflectors are in the works now?) it becomes a problem.

Plus what War said about Takara chugging along on collector interest.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-11, 03:29 PM
Aye - beyond producing Transformers, Tomy-Takara couldn't be more different from Hasbro. Takara need every penny they can get. Hasbro, on the other hand, are successful and produce lines people have heard of.

From a legal point of view it's an interesting point... Bearing in mind I haven't bothered clicking on the link to Big Board because I don't have 20 minutes for the 16,000 200x200 graphics morons with nothing to say have attached to their posts, it seems they've just declared them illegal... which they were in the first place. They might disappear from easily accessible Japanese sites, but that will be the bulk of the impact. Any Japanese 3rd party manufacturers aren't just going to destroy stock and moulds, especially as they'll have a fair few mail contacts already sorted, and maybe even someone based outside Japan who'll import and shift on their behalf.

As with any type of illegal bootlegging, it surely won't have much impact until they actively start going after individual parties. Maybe Tomy Takara will - they need the money. I can't see Hasbro bothering unless it's as some kind of political sop to their junior partners - they don't need the money, they don't need the hassle and they don't need the bad PR - which is unlikely, as Hasbro wear the trousers these days.

EDIT: Agree with taku that it's probably the complete figures that have tipped things over, as they will be impacting on sales to some degree... Spare heads and guns will get swept up in it because T-T can hardly come out and say "Oh, this IP violation is okay, but this one is illegal".

Cliffjumper
2011-04-11, 03:48 PM
Of course, this was already noted in the Fansproject Causality thread, but I feel that this deserves it's own thread, rather then going off topic about it in some other thread.

No problem... With a little Dino magic...

EDIT: Well, close enough. HAI!

NightHawk
2011-04-11, 04:13 PM
Bearing in mind I haven't bothered clicking on the link to Big Board because I don't have 20 minutes for the 16,000 200x200 graphics morons with nothing to say have attached to their posts

I went through all 19 pages of their forum, it was ranging from whining that certain figures weren't released up to "well if Has/Tak gave us what we wanted there would be no 3rd parties."

Figures will still be released regardless, if though not always in stores since the retailers are all hoarding in on the upcoming movie toys and neglecting the other lines of Hasbro, hence why they wont release certain figures...which is still not too bad, seeing as you can get them at most online shops still, if though some are only via Takara.

As for the "not giving us what we want"...We the fanbase apparently want a lot and we are given a lot, The Classics/Universe/RTS/Generations lines gave us several marvelous G1 updates that we originally didn't think to be seen again, but Has/Tak takes it more globally, if gives us what is popular, what is in demand with the movies/games (Sadly, WFC was never given a full toyline) and wont always give us what we want, this is understandable, if though sometimes annoying.

Fact is, with 3rd party companies like Igear making blatant copies from existing molds and claiming it as their own, I can't blame Takara for banning them or wanting to put them out of commission so to speak. And yes, you will notice that most people are blaming Igear for this all which is quite understandable.

And while I do find it sad that upgrade parts will be swept along with this ban, I can't say that it's not logical, after all...in the end it is still copyright infringement when you base a head of a well known character sucking on a cygar who appeared in a licensed comic for a licensed toy.


No problem... With a little Dino magic...

EDIT: Well, close enough. HAI!

A wizard did it!

Warcry
2011-04-11, 08:15 PM
Aye - beyond producing Transformers, Tomy-Takara couldn't be more different from Hasbro. Takara need every penny they can get. Hasbro, on the other hand, are successful and produce lines people have heard of.
I'm not sure that's entirely true anymore. When they were an independent company that would have described Takara pretty well, but Tomy is a pretty hugely successful toy manufacturer.

I went through all 19 pages of their forum, it was ranging from whining that certain figures weren't released up to "well if Has/Tak gave us what we wanted there would be no 3rd parties."
Right, obviously Hasbro and Takara need to immediately stop manufacturing toys for children and instead focus all of their attention on pleasing the adult fanbase. If I ever need to be reminded why people have such a low opinion of our fanbase, a trip to TFW sorts that out right quick.

People who act like Hasbro/Takara is some sort of global supervillain for obeying child safety laws and acknowledging the reality of modern-day retail economics piss me off to no end. It's not 1984 anymore and the toy business is different. Hasbro aren't perfect by a long shot, but considering the legal and economic constraints they're working under they're doing a pretty good job.

glazios
2011-04-11, 08:16 PM
O , o

Quite a response... didn't expect quite this much discussion, or else I'd have opened a new thread right off the bat...

Anyway, I hope this doesn't get blown all out of proportion; if Hasbro get in on the act because TakaraTomy are pulling out all the stops, this could get ugly real fast.

iGear do need to get their act together, but I just hope that TakTomy will leave it at that, and not tar the other 3rd-party companies with the same brush - guys like FansProject and FrenzyRumble haven't actually stolen HasTak's intellectual property, or at least not quite as thoroughly as iGear have, and thus don't deserve the same complete-clampdown treatment.

There's a line in the sand with this sort of thing, and only iGear have actually dared to step across it. I only hope that clampdown doesn't turn into shutdown, or court case, 'cause that'd really suck monkeynuts.

@ NightHawk: Don't sweat it, dude. If I'd known this would kick up such a fuss, I'd have opened a new thread.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-11, 08:54 PM
iGear do need to get their act together, but I just hope that TakTomy will leave it at that, and not tar the other 3rd-party companies with the same brush - guys like FansProject and FrenzyRumble haven't actually stolen HasTak's intellectual property, or at least not quite as thoroughly as iGear have, and thus don't deserve the same complete-clampdown treatment

The problem is that they have to go for blanket bans, otherwise they're effectively saying they tolerate certain IP infringements, at which point in any theoretical court case iGear (for example) could ask why they're being singled out and things would get murkier... IP theft is an on/off switch AFAIK, you're either nicking someone else's idea or you're not... In legal terms there's no difference between, say, giving away free burnt CDs of a single out-of-print album and methodically selling copies of an artist's entire back catalogue. It's all IP theft (though obviously in a court of law one would likely receive a lighter sentence than another).

Now, my understanding of it is that while Warbot Defender might have not covered any trademarks, all Hasbro would have to do is prove he was directly based on their intellectual property (which you'd have a hard time disproving) and bang, case closed.

As I say, I think the problem is that whole figures rather than upgrades may have been seen as taking things a bit too far, and as these whole figures seem to be becoming more widely avaliable and hit larger production runs unless the 3rd Party groups wind their necks in a bit they could run into trouble. I'm not sure what the production runs on, say, Munitior are, but I'd guess if they sold loads of them more of the next figure will be made. I think this is the worry - the 3rd party manufactuers are getting ever more organised in terms of production, budget and promotion, and at the current rate that's going to erode the goodwill Hasbro have towards the various garage manufacturers.

Say the next figure is *grabs example out of the air* Impactor. This Impactor rocks, they make and sell a few hundred - let's say 500 for such a wanted figure. A year down the line, Hasbro do their own Impactor for whatever Generations line is out; it's an unconvincing Perceptor retool, and those 500 people who might otherwise settle don't buy it... that's a loss of $5000 of sales for Hasbro.

That's a bit different that a gun for DotM Prime or whatever that people will have to buy a DotM Prime to have any use for anyway, but one can't be banned without banning the lot.

What will hopefully happen is that the 3rd Party manufacturers will just mind how they go for a little while and not get carried away pumping out dozens of ersatz Classics figures and the whole thing will blow over. I'd suggest that some companies have maybe been a little too enthusiastic about slapping their products all over the web and it's got to the point where TomyTakara couldn't really turn a blind eye anymore.

@ Warcry: fair play on Tomy, but I still think that Transformers' relatively small marketshare in Japan is the main reason this has happened.

NightHawk
2011-04-11, 09:12 PM
Right, obviously Hasbro and Takara need to immediately stop manufacturing toys for children and instead focus all of their attention on pleasing the adult fanbase. If I ever need to be reminded why people have such a low opinion of our fanbase, a trip to TFW sorts that out right quick.

We can't deny that we all would like to see some character get a new toy/update, but it is up to ourselves to be logical about it and understand it from Has/Tak's point of view, sadly enough, a lot of people don't seem to understand or even accept this view. No, instead they whine about wanting this, that Has/Tak should make that because we, the fanbase, want it.

I'm proud to be a TF fan, I really am, can't say I'm proud about the majority of our whining fanbase though.

Going further on the banning subject, now we know Takara's tackling the 3rd parties with their bannings, thus effecting companies who make custom figures, like FansProject for example. But what about those who customize figures, and I'm not talking about 3rd party companies, I'm talking about people like FrenzyRumble, who customize figures on for either commissions or sales on sites like e-bay, would you think that what Takara is doing, will ever have effect of these customizers? I mean, the toy is already bought so they already got their income from it.

Warcry
2011-04-11, 10:13 PM
The problem is that they have to go for blanket bans, otherwise they're effectively saying they tolerate certain IP infringements, at which point in any theoretical court case iGear (for example) could ask why they're being singled out and things would get murkier... IP theft is an on/off switch AFAIK, you're either nicking someone else's idea or you're not... In legal terms there's no difference between, say, giving away free burnt CDs of a single out-of-print album and methodically selling copies of an artist's entire back catalogue. It's all IP theft (though obviously in a court of law one would likely receive a lighter sentence than another).
As far as I understand it, if you hold a trademark or a patent you need to at least look like you're trying to defend it. If the third-party stuff is impacting Takara's sales and they don't do anything about it, legally that just makes things easier for the next guy who wants to ride their coattails to a quick buck.

Making accessories, heads and add-on kits is a grey area, because you have to buy a legit Hasbro or Takara product to use them. A good lawyer could sell that argument, and if pressed I think HasTak would have made that argument themselves to avoid starting a fight that would have cost them a lot of goodwill.

I agree that sell whole figures completely changes the game, though. The Combaticons you can sort of look past, because even though they're blatantly Swindle and Blast Off they're designed to combine with official Hasbro products. But Warbot and the various Arcees, Reflectors, Wreck-Gars, etc, etc that have been produced are nothing but off-brand Classics figures.

Hasbro can still afford to ignore it because most of their toys are bought for children and their share of the collectors' market is mostly made up of cheap bastards like me who wouldn't touch a $80 third-party figure with a ten-foot pole. Takara...not so much. They seem to rely on the collector market a lot more, and specifically the big-ticket foreign collector market that companies like FansProject and iGear sell to.

@ Warcry: fair play on Tomy, but I still think that Transformers' relatively small marketshare in Japan is the main reason this has happened.
I don't disagree with you there. Transformers has always been a bit of a 'niche' product in Japan, and Western collectors likely account for a sizable percentage of their sales. But Tomy at least seem to recognize and even embrace that. Since the merger they've given up on Takara's hair-brained schemes to expand their Japanese footprint with anime cliches and paedophilia and concentrated on selling slightly nicer looking repaints of existing Hasbro figures to foreign collectors for inflated prices.

Not a bad business model if you can get away with it, but it does put them more directly into competition with the third-party stuff than Hasbro is.

We can't deny that we all would like to see some character get a new toy/update, but it is up to ourselves to be logical about it and understand it from Has/Tak's point of view, sadly enough, a lot of people don't seem to understand or even accept this view. No, instead they whine about wanting this, that Has/Tak should make that because we, the fanbase, want it.
I know what you mean. In a perfect world, I'd love to have new G1-accurate toys of Spinister, Nightbeat, Trypticon, Scorponok, Shockwave, etc, etc, etc... We've all got lists like that. And I think in good time, most of us will see most of the characters we're carrying a torch for get a release. I mean, Straxus, after all...

But a lot of fans are impatient and the internet does seem to bring out the crazy in a lot of people. Big boards like TFW get it worse than smaller places like us, I think, because of the greater anonymity you get from having so many active posters. If you say something idiotic here you're likely to be laughed at and/or fed to Cliffy. But if you say something idiotic there, no matter what thread you're in there'll be a dozen people doing it so everyone else usually just ignores you.

Going further on the banning subject, now we know Takara's tackling the 3rd parties with their bannings, thus effecting companies who make custom figures, like FansProject for example. But what about those who customize figures, and I'm not talking about 3rd party companies, I'm talking about people like FrenzyRumble, who customize figures on for either commissions or sales on sites like e-bay, would you think that what Takara is doing, will ever have effect of these customizers? I mean, the toy is already bought so they already got their income from it.
I think that last sentence is the key...as long as Hasbro or Takara get their slice, they can probably justify not jumping down the customizer's throat.

Blackjack
2011-04-12, 06:59 AM
Read through the thread, agree with most of the things that had been said. Ultra Magnus armour, Cliffjumper heads and guns and Kup heads and whatnot shouldn't be too much a problem to HasTak, since they have to buy the original Classics figures first. If anything, this boosts their sales. I mean, many people sure as hell don't want to buy an ugly white Optimus Prime repaint, but you realize that there's a way to make him look like a convincing Ultra Magnus...

But you start making figures like Springer and Arcee and Devastator and Reflector and the Insecticons, figures that HasTak might be saving for the next leg of the Classics line...

Heck, every single TF news board has 'Warbot Defendor', 'Kup heads' and 'TFans Project Casuality' and whatnot in their most recent news, treating them as official product. We even have the Ultra Magnus City Commander listed in the official Classics toyline, I think. It grates on me, TBH. And if I were a Hasbro rep, well, I really don't want it to happen that way.

Cliffy's example with the theoritical Impactor toy hit it in the head, methinks. Just take Springer. Whoever got the Warbot toy is sure to think it's the bee's knees and everything, and when Hasbro releases a Classics Springer down the road some one-two years later (I mean, they did Hot Rod, Blurr, Kup and Arcee already) they will lose that much money from the 500 people who already bought the Warbot toy.

Agreed with the stuff said here about the fanbase in general. The reason I steer away from sites like Seibertron and TFW is exactly that. They see a toy come out and all they do is complain about why HasTak is such a bitch for using long missiles and stuff. And bashing everything that isn't G1. Gad, I hate those people. Especially those that bash the Movieverse in general. 'Bay ruined transformers forever by making Optimus a face-cleaving maniac/Bumblebee a mute/Megatron not a gun/Ratchet green' etc. Honestly, if the live-action movies didn't come out, how many of you would be caught talking about Transformers in public and not looked at funny? Before the movie, I mean? ("Look at him, he's talking about that rubbish kiddie show with ugly robots that nobody gives a shit about. Sad." becomes "Hey, I watched that movie! It's pretty good.")

I swear, I see some of the Classics discussion threads 'Hasbro is a bitch for releasing Wheeljack as a retool of Tracks', and 'Hasbro is a bitch for not making Straxus a kickass half-track tank instead of an ugly formless cannon thing'. What. Sure, there have been hiccups, but all in all, Hasbro has been doing great, trying to cater for kids and to the fanbase all at the same time. What little kid would be interested in buying Straxus, I ask you? Or Thunderwing or Bludgeon? God damned ugly samurai robot, I thought, when I first saw Bludgeon during my first foray into the wacky world of TFs. I mean, yeah, I want my 'Last Stand of the Wreckers playset' toy, but I'll take what I can.

Denyer
2011-04-12, 06:59 PM
Now, my understanding of it is that while Warbot Defender might have not covered any trademarks, all Hasbro would have to do is prove he was directly based on their intellectual property (which you'd have a hard time disproving) and bang, case closed.
My understanding is that the burden of proof is with the accuser, and the case for something like the Springer homage is far from open and shut, so it'd come down to whether Japan is as open to vexatious litigation as the US.

The mould copying I can see there being a strong legal case against, although protections don't last forever. IIRC, some LEGO-type piece designs are protected now and others aren't, with it coming down to utility/design patents.

Japan has historically had a fairly open culture of copyright liberties... it's not everywhere that has domestic/import/bootleg splits in music stores, and unofficial comics tend to be viewed as flattering. Technology and patents have been more protected, so the fact that this is more of a manufacturing issue may lead to a crack-down being effective on the direct copying.

Question is whether TT still has much weight to throw around.

inflatable dalek
2011-04-12, 07:47 PM
Hasbro can still afford to ignore it because most of their toys are bought for children and their share of the collectors' market is mostly made up of cheap bastards like me who wouldn't touch a $80 third-party figure with a ten-foot pole. Takara...not so much.

Though I wouldn't be surprised if Hasbro make a similar stance as a sign of solidarity with their production partner, especially considering the size of sales outside of Japan these things are likely to get, Takara are likely to need to deal with that if they do want to stamp this out.

Looking at the original link, it looks as if Takara's plan is not so much to take direct action against the third party sellers, but to tell online sites not to sell this stuff anymore. Which is likely the best bet rather than hunting down some guy in his garrage, especially as those sites are likely to depend more on sales of Takara stuff than third party things so they won't want to rock the boat so much with them.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-12, 07:53 PM
My understanding is that the burden of proof is with the accuser, and the case for something like the Springer homage is far from open and shut, so it'd come down to whether Japan is as open to vexatious litigation as the US.

And if it was to go to court, it would be pretty easy to prove. Triple changing yellow/grey/green robot with helicopter and tank configurations, recognisable (if pretty awful) robot mode layout, similar (basically identical) head design. Are they seriously going to stand there and claim the basic character design is their own work?

I'd be curious to see the 'homage' defence made for a toy sold at $100 or whatever that monstrosity cost, and one which may pre-empt an official Hasbro release. Considering Hasbro have in the past cited knock-offs as a reason for the lack of reissue for some figures (though this may have been a smokescreen) it's an interesting point to consider, especially for a fannish character that might have been pitched more towards the collectors' end of the market.

That's clumsy phrasing on my part, from my usual habiot of writing sentences backwards - of course legally burden is on the accuser, the phrase "hard to disprove" was more meant to intimate that there wouldn't be much of a case for the defence. The best FP could do in that case was claim it was unintentional that their design is heavily based on one owned by Hasbro. Which would be amusing as their site has pictures of Hasbro-created figures with FP-created parts, making their knowledge of Transformers obvious.

That said, I really don't think any of this will happen. There'll be the odd C&D issued, if that. This is a shot across the bows to prevent the third party manufacturers from getting ideas above their station - a way of saying "We know what's going on, please don't take the piss".

Random thoughts -

* I wonder if Hasbro have lent on Takara to issue this, thus getting the message out without upsetting the vocal Western fandom - because however much the Big Board poseurs are up in arms about it, there'd be even more fuss if the announcement covered America instead.

* I also wonder if this is a downside to Hasbro's relatively close relationship with the fandom. The design team has more than a few nerds on it, some of whom are on first name terms with the Ace Faces, probably post at boards, read Shitpacked! and so on. There's probably been someone out there stupid enough to have these on show in a dealer room at a convention with Hasbro reps present. Banners for these figures have become more common on websites as the producers have become more professional. Sooner or later someone, somewhere was going to object, especially if some spotty herbet asked a prissy designer why Hasbro Figure A was rubbish compared to 3rd Party Figure B.

* FP and the like have considerable engineering talent; it's a shame they can't actually come up with their own ideas. But then none of the people buying them would buy them because Transformers fans are by and large brand facists.

Denyer
2011-04-12, 08:26 PM
And if it was to go to court, it would be pretty easy to prove.
The use of any actual TF trademarks in direct advertising would be a killer, but...

http://www.figures.com/forums/news/10161-fansproject-warbot-defender.html

...proofs:

Trademarks - none on the figure or packaging, as far as I'm aware.

Copyright - possibly on the face, although decades of robot toys and lots of similar Transformers heads would work against it.

Design patent - if anything like the US, lapsed by now, and have to be very specific. You can patent different varieties of computer mouse design, for instance.

Warcry
2011-04-12, 09:26 PM
Agreed with the stuff said here about the fanbase in general. The reason I steer away from sites like Seibertron and TFW is exactly that. They see a toy come out and all they do is complain about why HasTak is such a bitch for using long missiles and stuff. And bashing everything that isn't G1. Gad, I hate those people. Especially those that bash the Movieverse in general. 'Bay ruined transformers forever by making Optimus a face-cleaving maniac/Bumblebee a mute/Megatron not a gun/Ratchet green' etc. Honestly, if the live-action movies didn't come out, how many of you would be caught talking about Transformers in public and not looked at funny? Before the movie, I mean? ("Look at him, he's talking about that rubbish kiddie show with ugly robots that nobody gives a shit about. Sad." becomes "Hey, I watched that movie! It's pretty good.")
More than that...if not for the popularity of the movies, Classics wouldn't exist, there wouldn't be any third-party toys to speak of, the Masterpiece line probably would have gone the way of Alternators and all of the things we take for granted now would be nothing but a pipe dream as we have the eleventh year of the Unicron Trilogy (or something else equally dire) inflicted on us. Whatever your opinion of the movies themselves, they are the only reason Transformers broke out of the doldrums of the late 90s and early 2000s.

When fanboys piss on the movie they're pissing on the only reason they've gotten any of the things that they're whining about wanting.

The mould copying I can see there being a strong legal case against, although protections don't last forever. IIRC, some LEGO-type piece designs are protected now and others aren't, with it coming down to utility/design patents.
I think the major distinction is that Lego is just a type of building block, but Optimus Prime or Starscream are characters. Even after the patents on a figure's tooling expires, the character still isn't in the public domain. So even after the tooling for the original Prime toy isn't protected anymore, I'm not sure that other companies would be able to get away with selling their own versions of it -- they'd still be making a profit off of Prime's image, so to speak.

The same sort of thing would apply to stuff like Warbot,. Sure, some random Chinese guy designed the figure in his garage. But it was designed to look like Springer and sold pretty much exclusively to people who think of it as Springer. I don't think it's any more legal than designing and selling your own toys of Spider-Man or Worf.

That's clumsy phrasing on my part, from my usual habiot of writing sentences backwards - of course legally burden is on the accuser, the phrase "hard to disprove" was more meant to intimate that there wouldn't be much of a case for the defence. The best FP could do in that case was claim it was unintentional that their design is heavily based on one owned by Hasbro. Which would be amusing as their site has pictures of Hasbro-created figures with FP-created parts, making their knowledge of Transformers obvious.
Also, the fact that they market the toys almost exclusively to the Transformers fandom doesn't help their case.

I also wonder if this is a downside to Hasbro's relatively close relationship with the fandom.
Speaking of...if Hasbro were really serious about putting a stop to the third-party stuff, would it really take lawsuits or Machiavellian schemes involving threats to online retailers? If they were really gung-ho, they could probably ask/bully places like TFW and Allspark to flat-out ban the discussion of third-party stuff entirely. If they threatened to pull the plug on the Q+As, exclusive information, 'leaks', etc. I imagine they'd get what they wanted pretty quick. And that would effectively kill the third-party sellers' ability to market their wares to enough customers to earn a profit.

It's fairly common in other fandoms, from what I understand. In fact, some of them are far worse and even muzzle discussion about legitimate competitors. Discussing Megablocks is banned outright on a lot of Lego boards, for example, although I've never been sure if that's at Lego's request or because of the 'brand fascism' that Cliffy mentioned -- Lego's caught that particular disease much worse than Transformers ever will.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-12, 09:28 PM
I'd say the face, fairly unique colour scheme and recognisable (and again, very unique) helicopter mode are pretty damning on their own. Especially added to a run of other figures with a matching level of similarity to Hasbro-owned design, I think Hasbro would be on a fairly solid legal footing in the hypothetical situation it got that far (though, TBH, a C&D would probably be enough, were they so inclined).

The likes of FP are relatively exposed... Bootleggers and pirates don't tend to advertise with such vigour, and as they're generally less... naive... can be harder to track down even though they should be much higher up Hasbro's list, the same way the RIAA keeps going for college students who download a few hundred songs for personal use rather than Taiwanese pressing plants.

But in general I really do think Hasbro will leave be as long as the 3rd party companies don't take the piss, keep production runs small, maintain a high unit price and a fairly low profile. To give them their due, as huge multinational corporations built on exploiting cheap Asian labour go, they're really not bad, and certainly have more tolerance of fandom than other companies do.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-12, 09:37 PM
Speaking of...if Hasbro were really serious about putting a stop to the third-party stuff, would it really take lawsuits or Machiavellian schemes involving threats to online retailers? If they were really gung-ho, they could probably ask/bully places like TFW and Allspark to flat-out ban the discussion of third-party stuff entirely. If they threatened to pull the plug on the Q+As, exclusive information, 'leaks', etc. I imagine they'd get what they wanted pretty quick. And that would effectively kill the third-party sellers' ability to market their wares to enough customers to earn a profit.

Actually, it's worth considering here that the likes of Big Board and Other Big Board will actually willingly do as Hasbro say in the hopes it will get them on the radar and they can design convention redecos, get jobs with IDW or simply get spoken to by Aaron Archer. Hasbro would only have to ask, and there're brown-noses who'll basically declare 3rd Party stuff to be A Bad Thing, and shout down the opposition. You can see the strawman Shortpacked! strip now, can't you?

Skyquake87
2011-04-12, 10:47 PM
I'm glad Taktom have woken up to this. If the third party market continued to grow, where would it end? It's only ultimately going to end up harming product development in the long run. I, too would like to see this, that or the other toy produced, and do find the Classics line something of an excercise in frustration, but I do recognize that Transformers these days are compromised as they have to sell to children, who are, lest we forget the primary consumers of these things. Alternators was a prime example of what happens when you devise a toyline soley for fans: it tanks.

glazios
2011-04-12, 11:11 PM
I'm glad Taktom have woken up to this. If the third party market continued to grow, where would it end? It's only ultimately going to end up harming product development in the long run. I, too would like to see this, that or the other toy produced, and do find the Classics line something of an excercise in frustration, but I do recognize that Transformers these days are compromised as they have to sell to children, who are, lest we forget the primary consumers of these things. Alternators was a prime example of what happens when you devise a toyline soley for fans: it tanks.

While I agree with your point that lines directed specifically at adult fans tend to sink - let's face it, they can only give us what they think we want - I think the 3rd-party upgrades do have their place; companies like FansProject did what any company does, they spotted a niche in the market and they seized the opportunity. Where there's demand for something, eventually someone's going to step up to answer that demand.

How many people are still waiting for an armour/trailer upgrade for Masterpiece Magnus? Same can't be said for Classics Magnus, can it? The problem that caused this situation to arise is that the two companies who produced the original toy/s, Hasbro and TakaraTomy, aren't answering the demand for accessories to go with or 'complete' those figures.

Granted, HasTak can't answer every demand, but there's not much stopping a toy-manufacturing giant like Hasbro from creating an armour upgrade for MP Magnus and aiming it at a collector's market that they do know exists. If it's so in-demand, why not answer the demand?

Really, what's stopping them for creating their own collector's line of limited-run accessories? If we're willing to pay through the nose to companies like FansProject for upgrades and accessories - and anyone who's bought one has proven that they are, given that it's for the right figure; G3 Trailer much? - then surely we'd be willing to do the same for an official upgrade kit or accessory, right?

Blackjack
2011-04-13, 07:02 AM
Budget constraints, I reckon. Making a whole new mold is expensive stuff, hence the amount of retools and redecoes. And I wager Hasbro has a quota of how many fan-specific homage new molds, how many fan-specific redecoes (like Skyjack, Countdown et al), how many new character new molds (Terradive, Tomahawk), how many for the new toyline, etc etc.

Hasbro must looove how the fans are lapping up the Classic Seeker repaints they keep throwing into the pool.

Besides, marketing accessories have never been successful. Stuff like Gundam and Zoids add-ons shelfwarm horribly here, and the market for things like Magnus armours or Optimus trailers would be considerably less compared to, say, a new Jazz or Starscream figure.

Bearing that in mind, though, Hasbro did make a fully-armoured Ultra Magnus toy... twice. Once is a faithful (if fugly) homage to G1 in the Titanium line, and the other is the Animated toy, which, at clearance costs considerably less than the FansProject set. Hasbro would consider these toys 'sufficient' to appease the fandom until they have the time/resources/budget to sneak in a proper trailer armour thing.

Because, honestly, I can't be the only one who thinks an armour covering a white Prime toy is crap, don't I?

And things like Springer, well, aren't they just waiting for the right time to release these major figures? Nevermind that Springer doesn't turn into anything resembling a realistic vehicle mode, if Hasbro burns through all the major characters in 2007 or 2009, who would they have left to release, say, now or after DOTM? They will be left with guys like Tailgate and Chop Shop that nobody but fans would care about.

They can't release, say, Springer, Hot Rod, Blurr and Kup all together, or else fans will get excited for two months or so, then forget about the line in general.

But yeah, I don't think Hasbro minds the upgrade kits much, it's the dozens of mass-produced Arcees and Reflectors and Cassetticons and GI Joe/Train/Tank Optimus Primes that would piss them off. Because it basically robs Hasbro of an opportunity to successfully release a proper homage to the public.

More than that...if not for the popularity of the movies, Classics wouldn't exist, there wouldn't be any third-party toys to speak of, the Masterpiece line probably would have gone the way of Alternators and all of the things we take for granted now would be nothing but a pipe dream as we have the eleventh year of the Unicron Trilogy (or something else equally dire) inflicted on us. Whatever your opinion of the movies themselves, they are the only reason Transformers broke out of the doldrums of the late 90s and early 2000s.

When fanboys piss on the movie they're pissing on the only reason they've gotten any of the things that they're whining about wanting.

Aye.

If I were to be introduced to Transformers via an Unicron Trilogy cartoon or G1 or, hell, even Beast Wars, I won't even watch it. Silly kiddy robots! But the live-action movies, love them or hate them, are what put Transformers back on the spot. It's not that outdated, silly toyline-based cartoon with stupid plots, it's part of a proper franchise. Hasbro really won't have the incentive to please a bunch of geeky fans before the live-action movies. Heck, apart from stuff like Botcon, I doubt Hasbro knows the fandom exists!

Without the movies, TFs would slowly decay down and basically become another random brand like Power Rangers or Kamen Riders or Zorobots or whatever non-Gundam robot toy is on the market now.

And besides, the Movies >>>>> G1 cartoon. For ever.

Skyquake87
2011-04-13, 11:05 AM
Exactly. Producing an Optimus with trailer or Magnus with armour outside of a major themed line (i.e. Movie lines, Unicron Trilogy, etc) isn't going to happen. And whilst you can argue that there is a demand for add on guff, how much of a demand is there actually? A very small one, I'd bet. I don't have an unlimited budget to spaff on Transformers (and good luck to you if you do), so I'lll happily sacrifice a trailer or whatever if it means I can get my hands on a particular character at a reasonable price (this latter point is probably why we've seen key characters released in different size classes over recent years - although I do wish the UK wouldn't get all the bloody repaints of these toys too!).

Takara did bow to 'fan demand' with the Masterpiece Prime Trailer set, but hedged their bets by packing it with the actual Prime figure - how many people would spend the 100 on just a trailer, not very exciting is it? You might say they should have done this in the first place, but that's a potentially very expensive gamble. The MP line is now something totally out of my price range now. MP Rodimus might be the figure fans deserve, but at 200? No thanks. That's a niche product right there!

I suppose it comes down to how realistic your expectations are. I'm in my 30s and understand that Transformers -even the Classics ones - aren't really designed with me in mind. They are toys and designed to be played with, not fawned over by collectors whom Hasbro / Taktom will never be able to please no matter what they do.

I'm not a fan of add on sets. Do you really need a Kup with Cygar? Really? Can you not use your imagination? Is it really that important? Short answer: no.

Denyer
2011-04-13, 06:26 PM
I think the major distinction is that Lego is just a type of building block, but Optimus Prime or Starscream are characters. Even after the patents on a figure's tooling expires, the character still isn't in the public domain. So even after the tooling for the original Prime toy isn't protected anymore, I'm not sure that other companies would be able to get away with selling their own versions of it -- they'd still be making a profit off of Prime's image, so to speak.
You could make your own truck/robot from scratch with many similarities and a similar colour scheme, provided there aren't trademark infringements. Copyright protects the expressive elements -- the face if not generic, any distinctive and creative moulded logos, etc.

But it was designed to look like Springer and sold pretty much exclusively to people who think of it as Springer. I don't think it's any more legal than designing and selling your own toys of Spider-Man or Worf.
There are a variety of factors, but one difference is that the toys of said characters would bear a very close resemblance to existing produced art, simply because there's been so much of it made public by Marvel and Paramount (and their licensees) over the years.

fairly unique colour scheme and recognisable (and again, very unique) helicopter mode
Colour schemes have very weak protection unless as an additional factor on top of other very close similarities. Think tech companies that use red/yellow/blue/green, for instance.

City Commander's on far stickier ground, though.

tahukanuva
2011-04-13, 06:58 PM
Originally Posted by Blackjack
Heck, apart from stuff like Botcon, I doubt Hasbro knows the fandom exists!

I don't know about that. Hasbro's always been pretty hands on with the fandom, at least since I've been in it. Especially when compared with say, Mattel, who seem to actively hate their adult fans. And it seems that over the course of Classics they've given us almost every major request we've had, plus Armada Hot Shot. They certainly cater to us more than I'd expect a major company to be able to do.

EmFalcon
2011-04-13, 07:03 PM
Some of the third party stuff is pretty nifty but honestly, even having some of it - if Hasbro/Takara abruptly released comparable 'official' figures (admittedly unlikely) of Springer (for instance) or a trailer/armour upgrade for classics Rodimus or Ultra Magnus I would be quite tempted to 'trade up,' as it were.

Although I suspect that most collectors would not be so easily tempted and thus having third party releases does undercut the prospect of seeing official versions of the same figures/accessories somewhere down the line. For all that we do get, however, I think that Hasbro/Takara is incredibly responsive to fan cravings.

For a product line that is ostensibly a toy for children, we do get a lot of nods and revisions of characters that are going to be easily bypassed by the greater children's market.

It would be pretty cool if Hasbro/Takara did open up a little sub-company for themselves that was just dedicated to small run accessory kits for the existing figures, though. Not that you'd ever see that in stores in the 'real world,' but internet commerce could always pick up the marketing slack for them, I expect.

Still and all - Hasbro/Takara are there to make money on a large scale and if there is an insufficient market to support it, you can hardly expect them to cater to a vocal minority by releasing fun eye-candy for existing TFs.

inflatable dalek
2011-04-13, 07:39 PM
I suspect that, even if they're not the main concern for Takara, it'd be easiest to build up a court case against the accessory stuff. FP can't really claim head Kup or Rodimus Armour aren't infringing on Takara's stuff when they're made to plug onto it.

Thunderwave
2011-04-13, 09:58 PM
For a product line that is ostensibly a toy for children, we do get a lot of nods and revisions of characters that are going to be easily bypassed by the greater children's market.

This could very well easily change in the near future. With Hasbro having their own channel, they could very easily put on old runs of any series they have the licence for. While I doubt it'll have a massive effect on the toy market, at least then some kids who don't read comics (or have a parent like me) might actually know who Kup is, or even Scourge.

As for the main topic, I think I hit the nail on the head in another thread. As long as the 3rd party people stay low and don't do massive runs or step on any toes (copying the MP Starscream mold, really guys?) they'd get left alone.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-16, 02:31 PM
Colour schemes have very weak protection unless as an additional factor on top of other very close similarities. Think tech companies that use red/yellow/blue/green, for instance.

Yes, in isolation. In combination with the head, the helicopter mode, the marketing via Transformers sites etc. it makes a pretty watertight case that they've ripped off Springer's design; you wouldn't need to be Brando on a million a day to nail that one down. Most, if not all, of these factors are pretty piffling in isolation, but bring 'em all together in one toy... a red torso-blue legs transforming robot is one thing. A red/blue transforming truck is one thing. A robot with a Prime-style head is one thing (especially seeing as the basic design is evolved from Gundam). A toy firmly aimed at Transformers collectors is one thing. Bring them all together and have a red/blue robot which turns into a truck cab with Prime's head aimed squarely at Transformers collectors and in a court of law you'd get turned into mincemeat.

Their best hope would be that the court would up-hold homage even though money is being charged. Or that they do the same they do with all the knock-off companies who do produce cheap and nasty Prime KOs that fit much of the above criteria and just don't bother, which I think for now is likely. Like I say, I think this is a diplomatic shot across the bows from HasTak saying "We do know what you're doing, you're not magically invisible, and we are prepared to take action if needs be".

Clay
2011-04-16, 08:38 PM
The irony is that the add-on kits, while more obviously infringing on copyrights on things like Ultra Magnus and Rodimus Prime, don't actually cost any business to Hasbro/Takara since a buyer needs the official figure to hook the bits onto. Standalone things like not-Springer are maybe more defensible, and yet they step on the toes more since they do potentially cost Has/Tak actual business if/when they choose to make a corresponding figure (compare Rumble and Frenzy (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/perfect-effect-2-pack-frenzy-and-rumble-preorder-169491/) to Rumble and Frenzy (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/japanese-transformers-40/united-frenzy-and-rumble-images-171770/)).

I really, really want this Shockwave (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/hearts-of-steel-shockwave-mastermind-creations-cyclops-custom-robot-mode-171883/) and Devastator (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/new-images-of-tfclub-devastator--reflector-171420/) before the hammer comes down, though.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-16, 09:06 PM
The irony is that the add-on kits, while more obviously infringing on copyrights on things like Ultra Magnus and Rodimus Prime, don't actually cost any business to Hasbro/Takara since a buyer needs the official figure to hook the bits onto. Standalone things like not-Springer are maybe more defensible, and yet they step on the toes more since they do potentially cost Has/Tak actual business if/when they choose to make a corresponding figure (compare Rumble and Frenzy (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/perfect-effect-2-pack-frenzy-and-rumble-preorder-169491/) to Rumble and Frenzy (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/japanese-transformers-40/united-frenzy-and-rumble-images-171770/)).

Aye, but I think the problem is that if they have to do it, they have to blanket ban them - as Warcry says above, part of owning IP is defending infringements, and they get onto tricky ground if they do it too selectively. If they say, ban all non-add on products, someone will come up with some way of getting through a loophole - say, selling skellington figures and seperate add-on kits which turn them into characters.

Denyer
2011-04-16, 09:26 PM
bring 'em all together in one toy... a red torso-blue legs transforming robot is one thing. A red/blue transforming truck is one thing. A robot with a Prime-style head is one thing (especially seeing as the basic design is evolved from Gundam). A toy firmly aimed at Transformers collectors is one thing. Bring them all together and have a red/blue robot which turns into a truck cab with Prime's head aimed squarely at Transformers collectors and in a court of law you'd get turned into mincemeat.
Only pre-supposing a close copy of the head, and/or other direct copying from existing moulds.

Imagine there were only two Prime toys in existence, stripped of Autobot symbols and named tags... the Laser Rod and the 2007 voyager-class one. The latter is substantively different to the former. It's a robot, it's a truck, there are some similar colours, fair difference on the expressive elements, etc.

For WD, "turns into a helicopter" or even "turns into a helicopter and some kind of land vehicle with a green/yellow colour scheme" isn't going to cut it. It's possible the face might, and the colours would lend some strength to that.

As toys, this (http://www.collectiondx.com/review/transforming_toy/fansproject_warbots_defender) head is distinct from 1 2 (http://www.seibertron.com/transformers/news/botcon-exclusive-classics-springer-gallery-now-onl/11254/) 3 (http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/universe-classics-20-29/new-images-of-target-exclusive-universe-ratbat-and-springer-165069/) 4 (http://transformersuk.blogspot.com/2010/09/transformers.html). Similarities draw more from other media, which is where trademarks would make a stronger case and they've been wise not to run with a similar name or closely mimic packaging so that this wouldn't reasonably be confused with a HasTak product.

Their best hope would be that the court would up-hold homage even though money is being charged.
The "charging for" angle comes into parody defences.

glazios
2011-04-16, 09:31 PM
If they say, ban all non-add on products, someone will come up with some way of getting through a loophole - say, selling skellington figures and seperate add-on kits which turn them into characters.

'Ch... yeah... and look how well HasTak have done with those...

It's a good idea in concept, but in practice, it FAILS like fail is going out of fashion.

My point being - yes, this post does have a point - that no-one buys any of the shellformer skeleton kits. The Prime and Bumblebee ones that came out as part of the first movie's line were aweful, and that pretty much killed the idea off. If a 3rd-party company came out with one of those things, it'd flop, just like HasTak's did. No-one would buy it.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-16, 10:05 PM
Yeh, that'd be a great interjection if it hadn't been a completely random theoretical example pulled out of thin air to illustrate a point, rather than a potential marketing direction. But never mind, eh?

For WD, "turns into a helicopter" or even "turns into a helicopter and some kind of land vehicle with a green/yellow colour scheme" isn't going to cut it. It's possible the face might, and the colours would lend some strength to that.

Which is surely what I said - it's the combination of isolated minor points. With Warbot, it comes down to the fact it basically looks very close to Springer, and if it didn't no-one would buy it (otherwise all the people slobbering over FP toys would have filled their boots with SoC, Brave Gokin, etc.).

TBH, a case with Prime or - random example - Sideswipe would fare better because you get red trucks and cars, there's a finite amount of ways to get them from one place to another, a finite number of ways to map out the mechanics of the things (putting Takara's Heathtech Robinsonators boffins out of the pressurised cabin for a moment... oh dear, the one who came up with Wheeljack's undergone fatal decompression... nevermind).

Whereas Springer is something of a unique concept - Hasbro (well, bods employed by, let's keep this simple) made him up from scratch rather than seeing the world's worst helicopter and turning it into a robot. To the best of my knowledge, the scheme (Dancougar, maybe?) and modes remain unique to Springer; certainly the combination thereof does. And I would say the head is very close, and I would expect the character models also come under Hasbro's IP anyway - you'd be on shaky ground making an unlicensed figure of Xaaron, surely?

The "charging for" angle comes into parody defences.

I think I'd be interesting to see how a court would come down on what is effectively a product rather than an art form... I see toy engineering as every bit of an art form as a comic, and more so than some twat with pubic hair coming out of his crown doing ironic pastiche songs, but it'd be interesting to see it was defined for a ~$80 toy. The trick could be that homages/parodies rarely compete with or preempt official product like the Cassette Twins have done; at least, few examples I can think of do. A JLA parody turning up in a Marvel comic aren't going to stop JLA fans buying JLA. It's difficult to draw non-ridiculous comparisons from media to product...

Clay
2011-04-17, 02:06 AM
Aye, but I think the problem is that if they have to do it, they have to blanket ban them - as Warcry says above, part of owning IP is defending infringements, and they get onto tricky ground if they do it too selectively. If they say, ban all non-add on products, someone will come up with some way of getting through a loophole - say, selling skellington figures and seperate add-on kits which turn them into characters.

Oh, I know - I'm just saying that some of these companies played with fire more than others. Fansproject is on shaky ground with not-Springer, but the one... IGear?... is almost a straight bootlegging operation with downsized MP Convoys and modified MP Starscreams sold as the Coneheads.

I would like to see a happy compromise come about in the form of some of these third-party companies simply acquiring some license to produce minor products on the up-and-up. But, as expensive as these small-run kits are now, I'm not sure if people would be willing to pay even more if the cost of licensing is passed on.

Which is surely what I said - it's the combination of isolated minor points. With Warbot, it comes down to the fact it basically looks very close to Springer, and if it didn't no-one would buy it (otherwise all the people slobbering over FP toys would have filled their boots with SoC, Brave Gokin, etc.).

It would also depend on the sensibilities of the person evaluating such a case. You might get someone that can't tell the difference between Starscream one (http://www.tfarchive.com/toys/reviews/mov_starscream.php) and Starscream two (http://www.tfarchive.com/toys/reviews/rotf_starscream.php) without a lengthy explanation of the differences, or you might get someone keen on robots who can glance at them and tell that they're two different toys altogether.

Not-Springer could be a laborious case of presenting coinciding details that, as a whole, represent copyright infringement or it could take someone two seconds to determine that it's obvious and that Fansproject owes Hasbro a truck of money. I'm the same way - I can tell robot toys apart, but I had a hard time telling apart my friend's Yorkshire Terriers, even though she assures me that they have a world of difference in their appearance.

Blackjack
2011-04-17, 09:03 AM
Problem is, if the Warbot Defender was taken into court, all Hasbro needs to do is to take out any single TF fansite with news announcement of 'Warbot Defender, a homage to G1 Springer' or something like that. There's got to be two dozen separate announcements over the interweb...

Or do fan sites even count?

Warcry
2011-04-17, 04:03 PM
I think they'd be very helpful when it comes to proving damages. Just print off a few dozen posts by people who are saying that they won't buy Hasbro's Rumble/Reflector/Wreck-Gar/whoever because they've already got a third-party version of the character. It's hard to deny that you're costing the company business (how much doesn't really matter IIRC, at least when it comes to punitive damages) by violating their IP when there are hundreds of people openly saying "I would have spent money on an official Hasbro product if I hadn't given it to these Chinese scofflaws first".

I doubt the advertising on fan sites would prove anything on its' own, but it would be one more thing added to the pile of evidence that the toy is supposed to be Springer. Certainly, it would be a lot harder to deny that you're not basing the toy on a Hasbro character when you're advertising the toy on Transformers websites and the threads are full of people going "Squee! Springer!" But if that's all you had, you'd probably lose.

inflatable dalek
2011-04-17, 07:32 PM
I think Takara are aiming more for the fear of legal action (or more to the point, the cost of it), to do the trick rather than it actually going to court. FP might win such a case at a pinch (would fans adopting these toys as Transformers actually be enough in court? Unless someone involved has specifically and publicly claimed that yes, that is Springer it might not. After all, how many of those same fans made various Go-Bots stand in for Optimus Prime or whoever as kids? Certainly it could become a fairly protracted case), but the financial risks of failure would make it not worth the risk.

Denyer
2011-04-17, 08:03 PM
Which is surely what I said
The main difference is I think you could begin to build a case, whereas a fair swathe of other commentators seem to think the outcome a foregone conclusion.

It'd be interesting to get input from a few people with background defending IP suits.

Warcry
2011-04-17, 09:45 PM
would fans adopting these toys as Transformers actually be enough in court?
On its' own, probably not. Taken in isolation I don't think any of the points that get brought up would be enough. It's when you start piling everything together that Hasbro starts to get a case.

On its' own the figure looks a lot like Springer, but it's not a direct knockoff of the original figure or based directly on an existing design (like IDW or War Within or something like that) so it might be able to slide. But the entire back-catalogue of the company that produced it is unambiguously based on Transformers characters and designed to combine with existing, official Transformers figures -- that would have to weigh heavily in Hasbro's favour. The toys are also marketed almost exclusively to Transformers fandom, which would probably be another strike against them -- if it's not meant to be Springer, why aren't they advertising in the wider 'giant robot' market? I think some combination of those three things is where Hasbro would have to make their case.

The fandom's acceptance of the FansProjects stuff as an alternative to official Transformers product would, as I understand it, come into things more in the "are they harming the brand?" part of the case than in the "are they violating Hasbro's IP?" part.

I don't know how (or even if) intent factors into the equation for IP law, but I think you'd have to be burying your head in the sand to deny that the intent is there to market this thing to Transformers fans as an alternative to official Transformers. Like Denyer said, it'd be interesting to hear from an expert exactly how all of this would play out.

It also matters that this is happening in China, where foreign corporations hold a lot of sway over everything. It might come down not to "stop or we'll sue" but "stop or we'll tell the government you're us causing trouble and they'll make you disappear to save face".

Cliffjumper
2011-04-17, 11:11 PM
I do think it would be something of a foregone conclusion, because that's basically what these toys are. However carefully it's been dressed up, Warbot Defender is Springer. He's closely based on Springer, he's sold to people entirely on his resemblance to Springer. This isn't some small toy company doing their own thing who've design some robot from the bottom up that just happens to bear a passing resemblance to an existing Transformer who've then arbitrarily had their balls stamped on by Big Business. The only reason anyone bought Warbot Defender is because it looks an awful lot like Springer. The only reason it was made was to look a lot like Springer. These guys are selling toys which profit from someone else's work.

You could construct a case, I'm just not convinced it can be done in a manner which doesn't involve common sense being left at the door, or without depending on a lot of goodwill and/or ignorance about the subject from a court.

I sell stuff based on other people's work, but I don't claim it's legally sound.

After all, how many of those same fans made various Go-Bots stand in for Optimus Prime or whoever as kids?

How many of those Gobots actually looked like the guys they stood in for? How many were based on the designs? FWIW, I don't think people going "OMFG, it's Springer!" counts for much, but I think other points would be conclusive enough.

Question on the grounds I genuinely don't know - do 3rd party companies make a profit? I mean, are these things sold to cover costs, labour, production and maybe a little bit to go towards their next product? Apologies if that's a stupid question, but I genuinely don't know.

glazios
2011-04-18, 04:14 AM
Question on the grounds I genuinely don't know - do 3rd party companies make a profit? I mean, are these things sold to cover costs, labour, production and maybe a little bit to go towards their next product? Apologies if that's a stupid question, but I genuinely don't know.

I don't think they actually do turn very much of a profit, and if they do earn anything, it almost certainly goes towards funding the next project. One could say with a fair degree of certainty, for example, that after covering the costs of maing their Classics Cliffjumper upgrade kit, the earnings of that project went directly toward making the first iteration of City Commander.

You could also say they made/redeco-ed the City commander mould to death they way they did in-order to fund the G3 Trailer project, the first Crossfire upgrade set, and perhaps even Warbot Defender; then the Warbot proceeds funded the Crossfire-02 sets, which were altogether a project that was taken to the next level - it was't just an upgrade set, but a complete overhaul of the set it was adding to.

Obviously, following the huge success of that one, they've poured the proceeds into their new Causality line-up...

And then you could probably also factor in that they have to live in-between these projects, too, and support any families they may have... I don't think anyone could say with a serious degree of confidence that these guys kick back and live it up on the profits of their last project...

glazios
2011-04-18, 09:35 PM
You guys are not gonna believe this...

This whole blizzard-of-bullsh*t was a false alarm.

According to Drillbit of TFW2005, the original notice banning certain retailers from selling 3rd-party products also included a blanket ban on importing official Hasbro Transformers - specifically Dark Of The Moon toys.

This was not an attempt to blanket-ban 3rd-party Transformers products - it was a general import-stop notice.

TFW2005 said:
Update - 2005 Boards member Drillbit has confirmed that the removal notice also covers Hasbro made American release Transformers, specifically Dark of the Moon imports, so it appears this is not a third party ban but a more general import stop notice.
http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/3rd-party-unlicensed-41/takara-tomy-bans-third-party-custom-transformers-products-in-japan-update---maybe-not-171889/

That was a nice argument of the civilised variety, gents. 'Twas fun while it lasted. Panic's over, keep calm and carry on. :wave:

Denyer
2011-04-18, 11:18 PM
I don't know how (or even if) intent factors into the equation for IP law, but I think you'd have to be burying your head in the sand to deny that the intent is there to market this thing to Transformers fans as an alternative to official Transformers. Like Denyer said, it'd be interesting to hear from an expert exactly how all of this would play out.
I say 'defending' rather than 'prosecuting' because lawyers of all stripes promise results, and it's the case-building that's of interest, particularly since the plaintiff would have to prove balance of probability.

Can't find Springer, but did find Sandstorm (http://www.google.com/patents?id=4IA8AAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4#v=onepage&q&f=false) and Astrotrain (http://www.google.com/patents?id=UpY8AAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4#v=onepage&q&f=false) as example of triple changers, which gives a good idea of how specific design patents are. Since toys are functional items, the bulk of the design elements (the transformation/mechanics) aren't going to be copyright, so this is a key protection for TF toys -- not applicable, in this case, since the WD design is original.

The face has generic elements and isn't a close match to previous toys or even strongly to previous artwork.

What people seem to be emphasising isn't copyright, patent or trademark concerns, but "passing off" -- i.e. companies trading on the reputations of HasTak. The situation for collector guides is pretty well-established, with imagery kept to a minimum, review emphasised and big 'unofficial' text in strategic places usually being sufficient. By contrast, the packaging of the WD is almost a clean slate; the grid pattern's about it. And retailers have been as careful as FP themselves in not (http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=FPJ10013&mode=retail&picture=aux2) labelling (http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=FPJ10013&mode=retail&picture=aux2) the thing as Springer. That comes down to fan reviews... which have generally been clear that it isn't a HasTak product, and don't suggest that FP have been licensed to use a character (which would be another form of passing off.)

The fan labelling thing isn't a world apart from Hasbro not infringing on the then-holder of Shockwave because fans consistently didn't use Shockblast.

Warcry
2011-04-19, 02:31 AM
What people seem to be emphasising isn't copyright, patent or trademark concerns, but "passing off" -- i.e. companies trading on the reputations of HasTak.
That's how I see it. When a company's entire product catalogue is nothing by third-party accessories for Transformers, they market their products exclusively to Transformers fans, their latest product 'coincidentally' looks a great deal like an official Transformer and the people who buy it do so on the understanding that it's meant to be that Transformer, it becomes very difficult to argue that they're not trading on the Transformers brand. I don't think they need to slap "Heroic Autobot Transformer Springer" on the package to do that, because they're marketing directly to the fandom rather than the general public. In a hypothetical world where Warbot Defender was for sale at Walmart or Toys'r'us I think Fansproject would be able to make a stronger case. But the figures are only available online and their only real avenues of marketing are Transformers websites, and I think it would be really hard to spin that in any way that didn't say "we make money off of Transformers".

That's an outlook that takes Fansproject's entire output into account, though. One item or another might be able to pass muster, but taken en masse there is a clear pattern of their products being based on Transformers characters without any licence to do so.

By contrast, the packaging of the WD is almost a clean slate; the grid pattern's about it. And retailers have been as careful as FP themselves in not labelling the thing as Springer. That comes down to fan reviews... which have generally been clear that it isn't a HasTak product, and don't suggest that FP have been licensed to use a character (which would be another form of passing off.)
I can see what you're saying, but I don't entirely agree. If I started selling my own Star Wars figures, I wouldn't be able to get away with it and I don't think it would matter one bit that I designed entirely new molds for the figures, designed entirely new packaging and made sure that the words "Star Wars" and the character names were nowhere to be seen on the packaging. One toy that looks like Han Solo is coincidence. But a line of toys that look suspiciously like Han, Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Lando, Obi-Wan, Wedge and Admiral Ackbar? Surely at some point you'd be crossing the line.

I think the same would hold true for Fansprojects. In a vacuum, Warbot probably isn't a blatant infringement -- it looks a lot like Springer, sure, but there's a good chance they'd get the benefit of the doubt. But alongside Cliffjumper, Ultra Magnus and Rodimus add-ons, new Swindle and Blast-Off toys designed to combine with official Hasbro product and now Insecticons? I would have to think that Fansproject would find themselves on the wrong side of that line if push came to shove.

The fan labelling thing isn't a world apart from Hasbro not infringing on the then-holder of Shockwave because fans consistently didn't use Shockblast.
Unless there's a Batman villain named Shockwave who happens to be a purple, one-eyed robot with a cannon for an arm, I think there's a lot of difference. I don't know what the Shockwave trademark was applied to (if anything) when Hasbro didn't have it, but I would hazard a guess that it wasn't nearly identical to the Transformer. Fans calling all those Shockblast toys 'Shockwave' would have had a lot less impact than when fans apply the 'Springer' name to another, non-Hasbro green and yellow triple-changing robot.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-19, 10:08 AM
What people seem to be emphasising isn't copyright, patent or trademark concerns, but "passing off" -- i.e. companies trading on the reputations of HasTak. The situation for collector guides is pretty well-established, with imagery kept to a minimum, review emphasised and big 'unofficial' text in strategic places usually being sufficient. By contrast, the packaging of the WD is almost a clean slate; the grid pattern's about it. And retailers have been as careful as FP themselves in not (http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=FPJ10013&mode=retail&picture=aux2) labelling (http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=FPJ10013&mode=retail&picture=aux2) the thing as Springer. That comes down to fan reviews... which have generally been clear that it isn't a HasTak product, and don't suggest that FP have been licensed to use a character (which would be another form of passing off.)

I'm not sure exactly how packaging would be a factor (though the anime interpretation of the figure that looks less like Springer than the toy does is a nice touch). The design of the thing is surely a factor, however it's been packed.

The Shockblast thing seems disingenuous because Hasbro own the concept of Shockwave even if they don't own the trademark - so while Hasbro are getting recognition via someone else's TM (I think, having trouble articulating this one) at least the concept is based on one they own.

Though personally I think fan labelling isn't an issue, just because a lot of Transformers fans are morons and see Transformers in lots of unrelated figures, generally through ignorance (I've seen Ideon described as a Prime knock-off, for instance).

I think the 3rd party's marketing directly at fans and intentionally copying of Hasbro characters would be, though, and where fans might come into it is things like the Big Board thread Clay linked, where people are outright stating "I'm not buying this Frenzy & Rumble, I'm sticking with Garage Company's Frenzy & Rumble". It's not watertight, of course, but it'd certainly be an arrow in the sheaf of a prosecutor.

Short version, though, is that Hasbro's legal department would probably have better things to do than get involved in these sort of things if production levels of 3rd party stuff stays at the same level.


I actually find it a interesting that TakaraTomy are suffering enough from Hasbro stock being imported to declare a blanket ban... It amazes me they don't link up a little more on this sort of thing, so that T-T actually have figures in stores at the same kind of turn-around Hasbro do, and then your Henkei or film accurate redecos come out in later waves, via web exclusives or whatever.

That said, the update doesn't telly very well with the initial news - if TT told the online seller to "not to sell 3rd party products due to copyright and trademark violation", how does that effect Hasbro product? Copyright and trademark surely doesn't apply (cf. USA editions, which were IIRC Hasbro stock with a sticker slapped on). So someone, somewhere is wrong about something - either that or TT have just made something up to protect their rapidly shrinking market share.

TakaraTomy - the toy world's answer to Ken Tyrrell.

Denyer
2011-04-20, 08:32 PM
That's an outlook that takes Fansproject's entire output into account, though.
Mmm. I'm not; the City Commander head and artwork, for example, are prejudicial to the outfit as a whole. They'd be better off separating the two operations of add-on kits and whole figures.

I do think it very unlikely that any motion directed against WD as a distinct product would proceed with certainty in TakTom's favour.

I'm not sure exactly how packaging would be a factor
It's clear of trademarks and almost clear of associations. The product (toy and packaging) doesn't go out of its way to trade on strongly definable IP (copyrightable, patentable and trademark-able elements), save for perhaps the head. You might say it's evocative rather than derivative.

I actually find it a interesting that TakaraTomy are suffering enough from Hasbro stock being imported to declare a blanket ban...
Yeah, logical continuation of a cultural thing; media-related imports generally do well (music being a prime example, which also usually beats domestic product to market) and gotta-have-it-first reactions are a bit more OCD than the West. Takara's doing the traditional thing of trying to make their product premium (an equivalent of slapping bonus tracks onto CDs, bundling postcards, etc.)

Bearing in mind shrinking markets in general and rising production costs, they're probably ****ed.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-21, 01:37 PM
It's clear of trademarks and almost clear of associations. The product (toy and packaging) doesn't go out of its way to trade on strongly definable IP (copyrightable, patentable and trademark-able elements), save for perhaps the head. You might say it's evocative rather than derivative.

But surely for a web-based toy the packaging is basically a vanity exercise, and either way an irrelevance - if our theoretical court were to decide the toy was infringing on HasTak IP, it'd be because of the figure design, rather than the box people don't see until they've bought it anyway. If it was being sold on shelves (or just primarily on images of the boxed toy) I could see it a bit more, but once again it comes back to WD being dependant on association with a Hasbro-owned character in order to sell. If it didn't look close enough to Springer, none of the people who have brought it would have brought it.

Something to consider as well is whether this has ****ed up the chances of a Springer for the rest of us (and the kids). Because WD is more-or-less what a Neo-G1 Springer would look like... Now, if Hasbro's engineering team comes up with something similar looking for a possible Generations Springer, they'd possibly be open to FP suing them for stealing 'their' idea, which if nothing else would provide an entertaining head****. I remember Torsten or someone saying there was speculation at Big Board or the Waki or somewhere that fan recolours could theoretically leave Hasbro open to legal action... I whether there was anything other than speculation, and what the line was on "Obvious Schemes Hasbro did first" (e.g. redecoing Sideswipe as Red Alert before Red Alert was announced). but it's an interesting thought, especially for a relatively obscure character (c'mon, awesome as he is, he didn't really do anything in TF:TM), it'd nudge Springer into "not worth the bother" territory.

Bearing in mind shrinking markets in general and rising production costs, they're probably ****ed.

The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that Tomy took them over merged with them as equals oh yes oh yes... Going through various lists of their lines, it seems Transformers is one of the few successful properties they have. The obvious thing, to my mind, would have been for Hasbro to take them over and effectively turn them into Hasbro Japan, rather than leaving their Japanese partners to merge with one of their worldwide rivals. But then it's quite possible I'm missing something there.

inflatable dalek
2011-04-21, 06:27 PM
The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that Tomy took them over merged with them as equals oh yes oh yes... Going through various lists of their lines, it seems Transformers is one of the few successful properties they have. The obvious thing, to my mind, would have been for Hasbro to take them over and effectively turn them into Hasbro Japan, rather than leaving their Japanese partners to merge with one of their worldwide rivals. But then it's quite possible I'm missing something there.


I've wondered that myself, you'd have thought having complete ownership of one of their properties, especially at the time the merger happened when, IIRC the movies were at least imminent (and had the first one happened already?). I assume even with the stuff Hasbro does by itself they have to bung Takara some money for it (and vice versa).

Warcry
2011-04-21, 07:38 PM
Mmm. I'm not; the City Commander head and artwork, for example, are prejudicial to the outfit as a whole. They'd be better off separating the two operations of add-on kits and whole figures.

I do think it very unlikely that any motion directed against WD as a distinct product would proceed with certainty in TakTom's favour.
I agree in principle, but I think it's a bit disingenuous to partition things off like that. I can't see any situation where the hypothetical Hasbro/Takara vs. Fansproject lawsuit wouldn't be geared for shutting them down entirely. The lawyers would be throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them to see what stuck and Warbot is only a part of that.

Yeah, logical continuation of a cultural thing; media-related imports generally do well (music being a prime example, which also usually beats domestic product to market) and gotta-have-it-first reactions are a bit more OCD than the West.
It also bears mentioning that before the Movie/Classics era the Japanese figures were the ones that came out first and they capitalized on the impatience of Western collectors as much as (if not more than) Hasbro is doing now in the Japanese market. With the situation reversed, not only are they losing out on some of their domestic market but on a fair slice of cash from the West as well.

Something to consider as well is whether this has ****ed up the chances of a Springer for the rest of us (and the kids). Because WD is more-or-less what a Neo-G1 Springer would look like... Now, if Hasbro's engineering team comes up with something similar looking for a possible Generations Springer, they'd possibly be open to FP suing them for stealing 'their' idea, which if nothing else would provide an entertaining head****. I remember Torsten or someone saying there was speculation at Big Board or the Waki or somewhere that fan recolours could theoretically leave Hasbro open to legal action... I whether there was anything other than speculation, and what the line was on "Obvious Schemes Hasbro did first" (e.g. redecoing Sideswipe as Red Alert before Red Alert was announced). but it's an interesting thought, especially for a relatively obscure character (c'mon, awesome as he is, he didn't really do anything in TF:TM), it'd nudge Springer into "not worth the bother" territory.
That's probably not something we need to worry about. You'd have to think the third-party companies would be trying to avoid legal entanglements. But even if they're not and even if the law was on their side, "The legitimate owners of the IP we're stealing are selling a bootleg of our toy! Help us!" probably won't cut much ice with a jury.

The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that Tomy took them over merged with them as equals oh yes oh yes... Going through various lists of their lines, it seems Transformers is one of the few successful properties they have. The obvious thing, to my mind, would have been for Hasbro to take them over and effectively turn them into Hasbro Japan, rather than leaving their Japanese partners to merge with one of their worldwide rivals. But then it's quite possible I'm missing something there.
Even if it made perfect sense financially (and I'm not entirely sure Hasbro would benefit from the deal at all considering the state Takara was in), pride would probably have kept Takara from going in that direction. Even today a lot of Japanese still consider it extremely shameful for a Japanese company to be bought out by foreign interests.

Cliffjumper
2011-04-21, 08:29 PM
Yeh, the "wanting to sell to another Japanese company" thing was something that occured... The other thing worth considering is that (in the old days at least) Japanese toy companies often lent 'rivals' staff and even facilities, which means there's a chance a lot of Takara's staff have worked at Tomy and vice-versa... It's not an unknown phenomena in industry - when Ferrari were near-bankrupt in the early 1970s, Enzo Ferrari sold it to Fiat for something like a tenth of the money Ford were offering because he wanted the company to remain Italian-owned.

Denyer
2011-04-22, 10:26 AM
I can't see any situation where the hypothetical Hasbro/Takara vs. Fansproject lawsuit wouldn't be geared for shutting them down entirely.
As hinted at earlier, a sensible approach would be to fold and to re-emerge having separated operations, not mixing stuff that can't be defended with what can.

probably won't cut much ice with a jury.
I know the situation's a bit different in the Americas, but civil cases elsewhere don't tend to involve juries.

surely for a web-based toy [...] rather than the box people don't see until they've bought it anyway
Online retailers not only use in-packaging shots, but in this instance ran with the producers' general avoidance of passing off.

it comes back to WD being dependant on association with a Hasbro-owned character
To pick a topical example, there's going to be a lot of un-endorsed Royal Wedding cash-in tat around that would fly through legal challenges because the strength of association isn't enough to prove the balance of probabilities.

Of the associative aspects (head, colour, heli-tank-bot concept) only the first of those is particularly strong in a way that attracts strong protection.

speculation at Big Board or the Waki or somewhere that fan recolours could theoretically leave Hasbro open to legal action
Possible in the US if said 'fan' had a very deep wallet or backers, although I'm not aware of any case law so it's probably just a case of almost any suit being possible to bring in a rather ****ed-up legal system.

Something to consider as well is whether this has ****ed up the chances of a Springer for the rest of us
Nah, premium short-run stuff doesn't compete with ToysRus, and there's a lot of scope for not doing a copy either of the original toy or WD. On the other hand, it's a good excuse to stir online communities and attempt to drum up additional brand loyalty.

Home fabrication's getting better by the year, but I don't think it's going to take down toy companies in general yet or indeed until we get honest-to-dog Trek replicators.

Warcry
2011-04-22, 02:15 PM
As hinted at earlier, a sensible approach would be to fold and to re-emerge having separated operations, not mixing stuff that can't be defended with what can.
I'm not sure that the benefits of that would outweigh the costs, so to speak. Fansproject has a good reputation and their target market generally has a high opinion of them. If they pulled a Houdini only to reappear as different companies, they would lose a lot of the customer goodwill they've built up over the years.

On the other hand, iGear would probably benefit from burning their bridges, and it wouldn't impact the other, more minor companies much either way.

I know the situation's a bit different in the Americas, but civil cases elsewhere don't tend to involve juries.
They usually don't here either. I'm assuming that any case that got brought against Hasbro would happen in the States though. The weak IP laws in China that we're always told make it so easy for these guys to set up shop in the first place would work against them if they filed suit there, and if they tried to face down TakaraTomy in Japan I doubt they'd get very far, them being Chinese and Japanese culture being what it is. Whereas, like you say later, in the US you can pretty much sue anyone for anything.

Home fabrication's getting better by the year, but I don't think it's going to take down toy companies in general yet or indeed until we get honest-to-dog Trek replicators.
Even then, it would change the market but I don't think it would kill them. If anything, it might strengthen them because they wouldn't have to pay for fabrication anymore. You'd just see what you wanted in their online catalogue, purchase the one-time, copy-protected schematics, and voila! There's your toy. There'd be no more shelf-warmers like Mudflap, no more insanely hard-to-find toys like Windcharger in the US and no more issues with sloppy QC. Everyone would be able to access anything they wanted as soon as it was released, and (presumably) whenever they want. Hell, in a replicator society you'd probably still be able to buy new G1 toys...

On the other hand, a good 50% of us would be unemployed as the manufacturing, retail, wholesale and warehousing industries disappeared overnight. :(

inflatable dalek
2011-04-22, 02:34 PM
Screw the replicator, I want a holodeck. Goddess of Empathy Troi as a optional extra.

As a tangent, I'm amazed how the porn industry is able to get away with this [Though the site isn't likely something you'll want showing up on your work browser history the trailer is completely safe to view, containing fan wank rather than actual wank]:

http://axxxparody.com/index.html

Someone's basically got a bunch of porn stars together to film their Tasha Yar slash fic (even tossing in Geordi's two episode love interest!). With, despite minor changes to the costumes and sets, all names intact. Considering the trailer suggests it's not so much a typical porn spoof but rather an attempt at a "proper" TNG episode that just happens to have lots of sex in it, how are Paramount not suing the ass off them?

Troi's outfit makes much more sense in this context though.

Denyer
2011-04-24, 04:13 PM
If they pulled a Houdini only to reappear as different companies, they would lose a lot of the customer goodwill they've built up over the years.
Even if there weren't a lot of nodding and winking, one or two decent releases is enough for an outfit to build a rep on.

I'm assuming that any case that got brought against Hasbro would happen in the States though.
Ah. They'd have to be fairly nuts, yeah. Or trying it in East Texas.

purchase the one-time, copy-protected schematics
Copy protection hasn't really worked for much else, so I doubt it'll cut any more mustard applied to physical objects. I also reckon it'll sneak up on traditional manufacturing much as photocopiers did, maybe with a diversion via being banned due to military applications, due to costs... to begin with, ready supplies of materials will be (are; we're at that stage now) needed.

On the other hand, some people will always prefer official/original and attach kudos to owning that, even if we make it to post-scarcity.

how are Paramount not suing the ass off them?
Paying heed to good lawyers, apparently;

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/02/12/star-trek-the-next-generation-xxx-set-pictures-and-report/

glazios
2011-04-25, 11:17 PM
iGear's PP03S Seeker Storm (http://www.seibertron.com/transformers/news/igears-pp03s-seeker-storm/21412/)

These morons just don't know when to stop pissing on the hornet's nest, do they? *sigh*

Warcry
2011-04-26, 03:50 AM
The official, Takara-commissioned artwork on the box is a nice touch...

inflatable dalek
2011-04-26, 06:07 AM
Hmm, even if that's just placeholder artwork rather than what will be on the final box that's just asking for it that is.

And wait, this is just the Classic toy "upscaled" rather than an actual MP Sunstorm? Isn't that a bit crap?

Skyquake87
2011-04-26, 08:22 AM
Yes. Yes it is. That's like the stuff you can find in Poundland. A pointless exercise when I'm sure HasTak are capable of trotting out another use for the Seeker mould anyway (i think a pack of black seeker clones would be nifty myself).

glazios
2011-05-18, 05:00 PM
...Okay, now this is getting friggin' ridiculous.

iGear PP05 Ironhide? (http://www.seibertron.com/transformers/news/igear-pp05-ironhide/21675/)

Do iGear have no shame? Stupid question, obviously, seeing how blatent they're being about their IP theft.

They're practically throwing it in HasTak's faces with this one. They've officially stopped stepping on HasTak's toes and started stamping. Odds this attitude will reflect badly on other 3rd-party companies? Now there's another stupid question... _

There'll be all kinds'a hell when this thing comes out...

NightHawk
2011-05-18, 05:04 PM
I'm all for a proper G1 Ironhide figure, while I liked the Generations/Universe one...forgot which line...anyways, I liked that one but it was erm...a puzzle when in vehicle mode. I'd love to see a proper G1 Ironhide, hell, even a Ratchet repaint. But seriously iGear, leave that to HasTak shall we?

glazios
2011-05-18, 05:17 PM
I think they're really overstepping the mark now, and doing it on-purpous. To do a G1-type figure of a character that HasTak are currently using is really pushing their luck.

Maybe they've got it in their heads that HasTak can't do anything to them, because they'd have to blast all the other 3rd-party companies as well, some of whom haven't behaved nearly so outlandishly.

Thing is, it's no skin off HasTak's nose if they feel justified in to doing so, to stamp out cheeky little swines like iGear.

And then everyone suffers, just because iGear couldn't reign in their manufacturing ego for a while.

Cliffjumper
2011-05-18, 06:40 PM
I don't know, while it's no more legal, I find Ironhide a lot more... palatable. Hasbro did Ironhide, and they ****ed it up pretty badly, so someone else is having a go - an extension of Reprolabels making up for shitty paint apps.