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Bumblemus Prime
2014-12-09, 02:18 AM
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/12/robot-disguise-name-third-party-transformers-toys/

Thanks to all of you who commented and helped point me in various directions.

Clay
2014-12-09, 03:45 AM
Sweet. A point might have been made that some third parties are shadier than others (iGear essentially bootlegging the official Masterpiece Starscream mold with different wings to make Coneheads), but I like this. Didn't know about the bit with Warhammer. And while it sucks for Figueroa, I think that's a pretty boiler-plate agreement when you work for a company that deals with intellectual property: ideas that you come up with while in their employ are theirs, legally.

You also reminded me of why I dislike David Willis.

Skyquake87
2014-12-09, 09:23 AM
Interesting article, although I'd take issue with the supply chain 'morality' of 3rd Party manufacturers when compared with Hasbro. With them being so secretive about their operations, you can't in all fairness say there's no abuse of that supply chain. Yes, Hasbro might be 'disgusting' for exploiting third world labour, but in this they are no different from any other multinational - something which has been going on since the 1980s when pretty much all western manufacturers shifted production to the East to take advantage of these very things - cheap labour, no unions and a working environment that has no concept of 'health and safety'. It was basically a step back to the age of the Industrial Revolution when labour was exploited as people had limited options and a system of government and industry that took a long time to wake up to the idea that they might have to take some responsibility for the people working for them. Shame that all got reversed in the age of Reaganomics.

And doesn't David Willis rather have a point with the attitude fandom takes towards 3rd Party toys? Without Hasbro, Marvel Comics and Takara we wouldn't have the very thing on which these manufacturers are basing their products!

And yes, I can't shed any tears for Don Figueroa not 'getting paid' for his designs. He was paid to be an artist on a comic whose intellectual property is owned by Hasbro, making any concepts and / or designs developed for Transformers automatically part and parcel of Hasbro's catch-all copyright and I am sure he would have been aware of that when he was producing those designs. The only way to get out of that is to employ the tactics Marvel did with Circuit Breaker and Death's Head. But then what you'd have is something that looks like Transformers but isn't - just like Third Party toys themselves.

Knightdramon
2014-12-09, 10:49 AM
Neat article, though like Skyquake, I have no sympathy for Don. The guy is a glorified diva and an attention seeker and seems sour about the fact that IDW was not interested in his pitch.

I'm not of the mindset that hasbro/takara are evil, even labour wise, and 3rd party companies are better. Labour is labour, and when saying these sort of things I am not sure most fans at forums contemplate of the rise of price we're talking about just from moving production to another company. I don't believe all the "bring production to the US and feed families here" guys at tfw2005 would be content with paying 30+ USD for a deluxe figure of the same size and quality as now.

Politics aside, Hasbro is slowly pushing away the older audience, and that audience finds solace at a 3rd party company. I fully agree on the build quality---my MMC Talon is tight, heavy, ratcheted, full of moulded detail. Unless my sense is off, he is actually heavier than MP Starscream, which a feat nonetheless!

There's still much competition in the 3rd party world, and unless you veer of and [successfully] do your own thing, you'll be swallowed up by competitors, as is the case with most companies and their "dino wars".

Furthermore, as the average attention of a tf fan is equal to that of a peanut, if you take too long to bring a figure out, it will be forgotten, orders will be cancelled, and a competitor has already released something similar.

Lastly, and this is sadly a trend with 3rd party companies, there's no sense of accountability. While there are delays on ALL of them, faults with some of them and so on, no company has come out and said "hey guys yeah we screwed up". No. It's always "hey the factory screwed up".

It's so common nowadays it's laughable. "The factory" is MMC's go to scapegoat for anything that's wrong, from colour renders to missing accessories to 3 month delays on repaints. :lol:

Clay
2014-12-09, 12:26 PM
And doesn't David Willis rather have a point with the attitude fandom takes towards 3rd Party toys? Without Hasbro, Marvel Comics and Takara we wouldn't have the very thing on which these manufacturers are basing their products!


Yeah, but he's a pretentious git in the way he portrays the point.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-09, 09:14 PM
I totally never got round to adding my thoughts on the original thread (though as someone who only recently popped his third party virginity I'd probably not have been hugely helpful).

Is Don actually on record as being that upset about not making money from his character designs? Nick Roche is delighted at both the official and third party toys that have taken inspiration from his work, the same goes for Roberts. Even Budiansky and Furman (understandably I suppose as they're editors who would have made other freelancers sign similar contracts over the years) aren't cut up about their ideas being recycled into billion dollar films.

It might also be worth noting that most of the people behind the character designs haven't seen a penny from the third party toys either (Nick Roche was hoping for a free Not Ironfist at the last AA, I don't know if he ever got it.That's arguably worse than Hasbro not giving him a "designer" fee for Springer as at least that's covered by the original contract he signed).

Most freelancers who work on licensed properties are fairly sanguine about signing over the rights to their ideas in my experience. If they weren't, they wouldn't last very long in the field. You could argue there might be a higher standard of licences fiction generally if contracts were more favourable (Transformers is generally pretty lucky, there's a lot of crap out there) but it's still a reciprocal relationship, as can be seen by how the two main TF ongoings still sell about the same the name James Roberts doesn't sell Transformers comics, the Transformers name sells James Roberts comics.

Cliffjumper
2014-12-09, 10:48 PM
Don Figueroa thinks he's Jim Lee thanks to all the spit-and-polish jobs he was given by fandom in 2002/3. Transformers fandom is about as loyal as a cat and have successively decamped en masse to stalk E. J Su and then Nick Roche.

But it is worth considering that, yes, basically 3P companies are just half-inching other people's work and it's worth remembering that none of them have had an original thought yet. Oh, you've put knees on Swindle? Well done, have a ****ing bun. And two hundred dollars for a Scout figure. But don't try designing anything that's not ripping off a Transformer design we all recognise as however good it is no ****er will buy it.

There's actually a lot of overlap between 3P and the 'designs' of comic artists; both are just fiddling around with details taken from thirty-year old work from hack staffers at Takara and Marvel.

Clay
2014-12-09, 11:08 PM
But it is worth considering that, yes, basically 3P companies are just half-inching other people's work and it's worth remembering that none of them have had an original thought yet.

Actually, Fansproject have put out a couple of originals: Steelcore (https://www.fpcore.com/product/wb-002-warbot-steel-core) and Glacial Lord (https://www.fpcore.com/product/retro-future-glacialord-set-of-5) aren't based on any Transformers characters. It's my understanding that they sold reasonably well and are now out of stock everywhere... the problem with original designs like these though is that they're much tougher to sell since they're not recognizable designs that people are familiar with through either previous toys or fiction.

Just making a Swindle with knees offers a much safer return on investment.

Warcry
2014-12-10, 06:05 AM
With all due respect to Bumblemus, the article reads more like a guy trying very hard to convince himself that it's okay to like third-party stuff than anything else.

Yeah, but he's a pretentious git in the way he portrays the point.
I don't have much use for Willis personally, but the type of frothing, hypocritical third-party fanboy that he lampoons absolutely deserve every morsel of childish scorn he can heap on them. He's not taking potshots at everyone who buys the stuff (at least not that I've seen) or even people like Knightdramon who prefer 3P stuff to official figures. He's going after the neckbeard assholes who flame people for buying official toys or call up third-party designers at home and threaten their wives because the Jetfire they designed didn't come with landing gear.

His strips may be partially responsible for giving third-party buyers a bad name, but honestly...the scene is filled with the same sort of passive-aggressive, smug fandom hipsters who were all "Hasbro sucks, I buy everything Takara" in 2008 and sang the praises of the "infinitely superior" Japanese shows in 2002. They've become less of a dominant voice over the last couple years as the 3P corner of the fandom has grown, but they're more than capable of making third-party buyers look bad all on their own.

Interesting article, although I'd take issue with the supply chain 'morality' of 3rd Party manufacturers when compared with Hasbro. With them being so secretive about their operations, you can't in all fairness say there's no abuse of that supply chain.
Don't some of them claim to use the exact same factories as Hasbro? If that's true, considering they all seem to make product at the same price points, the manufacturing costs for each third party would have to be relatively similar. Which means that people aren't making a very good wage building these things either.

And honestly...the entire unofficial Transformers industry is predicated on making money off of other people's ideas without compensating them. It's a fundamentally exploitative endeavour, and I seriously doubt the people behind it care much either way if the people who assemble their merchandise are being exploited. If they were that idealistic, they wouldn't be engaged in morally- and legally-grey profiteering to start with.

And yes, I can't shed any tears for Don Figueroa not 'getting paid' for his designs. He was paid to be an artist on a comic whose intellectual property is owned by Hasbro, making any concepts and / or designs developed for Transformers automatically part and parcel of Hasbro's catch-all copyright and I am sure he would have been aware of that when he was producing those designs.
Yeah...in spite of how Don tried to frame it, he absolutely was paid for designing those characters. IDW cut him a cheque years ago. What he's really griping about is that he doesn't think he was paid enough. But every worker in the world thinks that. If he's not happy with the pay and he can't negotiate a higher rate (or a clause that guarantees a payout if one of his designs becomes a toy) then he's free to go work somewhere else, but unless you're an absolute superstar you're not going to get rich drawing comics or designing toys. And that's especially true for Don, whose skillset extends to drawing robots and pretty much nothing else. There's not many places in the industry where he can find work, so he really doesn't have any leverage. If he wants to work on comics, for him it's pretty much Transformers or nothing.

I don't believe all the "bring production to the US and feed families here" guys at tfw2005 would be content with paying 30+ USD for a deluxe figure of the same size and quality as now.
There's absolutely no way that the price increase would be that steep -- you'd have to be paying your workers $15 per hour to produce a single toy per hour, and there's no way the process is that inefficient. $4 or $5 per figure? That I could see. And that would create enough outcry on its' own, though it would be offset a bit by an increase in QC.

Lego vs. Mega Bloks is the best comparison I can think of, and after a few minutes of quick research it seems like the made(mostly)-in-Europe Lego sets have essentially the same cost per piece as their lower-quality made-in-China cousins.

Politics aside, Hasbro is slowly pushing away the older audience, and that audience finds solace at a 3rd party company.
I think you've got that backwards. Hasbro isn't pushing anyone anywhere. They're doing exactly what they've done for the last decade and a half, making toys mostly for kids but doing what they can draw in the collector market at the same time. The third-party fans are the ones who've changed, mostly because they've gotten bored of what Hasbro's got to offer. But that's nothing new -- fans have been decrying the state of the line ever since I started posting here, and they'll be doing it long after I'm gone.

The main difference is that thanks to the movies, the fandom has grown to the point where small companies see that they can make money by trying to appeal to disaffected fans like you. Ten years ago a fan that got bored with the official output would wind up wandering off and finding a new interest to spend time and money on, but nowadays expensive unofficial merchandise is filling that niche for a lot of people and giving them a reason to stay Transformers fans.

Lastly, and this is sadly a trend with 3rd party companies, there's no sense of accountability. While there are delays on ALL of them, faults with some of them and so on, no company has come out and said "hey guys yeah we screwed up". No. It's always "hey the factory screwed up".
Again, I think that goes back to the essentially shady nature of the business. The sort of person who'd feel obliged to take personal responsibility for their company's screwups probably wouldn't have gone into a business like this to start with.

Actually, Fansproject have put out a couple of originals: Steelcore (https://www.fpcore.com/product/wb-002-warbot-steel-core) and Glacial Lord (https://www.fpcore.com/product/retro-future-glacialord-set-of-5) aren't based on any Transformers characters. It's my understanding that they sold reasonably well and are now out of stock everywhere... the problem with original designs like these though is that they're much tougher to sell since they're not recognizable designs that people are familiar with through either previous toys or fiction.
But even then, there's a fair bit of crossover with Transformers surrounding those original figures. Steelcore is marketed as something of an unofficial Wrecker, being a part of the same series as their Springer, Broadside and Roadbuster. And the Glacialbots are basically a retro Scramble City design that exists solely due to nostalgia for the play pattern from some 80s TF toys.

Knightdramon
2014-12-10, 07:41 PM
Hmmm, agree and disagree with some of your points.

In an ideal world, there should be no "hate" and "preferences wars" like there are now for official or 3rd party, or even among 3rd party. It's no secret that I really, really like MMC products, but I really like the look of the FT releases. In an ideal world, I'd get both, but I like the "chunkier" and, bluntly, cheaper MMC releases a bit more. Buying all 5 Predacons from MMC is like 300 something pounds, buying all 5 dinos from FT is closer to 600 pounds :/

Don has pretty much been a HUGE attention wh*re in the past few years, and it annoyed me so much it actually went right through my one rule for artists [singers, pencilers, writers etc]---"you're in it for whatever the person is producing, not the person themselves". The guy publicly denounced Transformers as a whole when he went on to do his own thing, only to triumphantly return for the ongoing, then wander off again on that largely unsuccessful robot series, and then pull stunts like this. F*ck of Don, seriously. Grow a pair.

On the price hike for "domestic" production, yeah, it might not be that steep, but bear in mind that the average price for a US worker would be what, 6-10 USD per hour? [Not sure what the minimum is in the US] No matter how you look at it, it's more than the dollar or so they get in Vietnam.

While you are right that hasbro is more or less doing what they always did, the actual production values and quality of their "collector" releases has been subpar. Even the highly cherished MP releases are an actual, proper step down from the Binaltech line of 10 years ago, but fans are too caught up on the hype to see it. I'm not saying necessarily that the toys are bad, but they are *clearly* less than what they used to be.

On the accountability front, I am not sure that the 3rd party designers look at it that way---from most interviews, it looks like they are actually pretty up front about their work and eager to socialize with the fandom. But that's what's biting them in the a$$...people actually PM them with silly questions, feeling entitled to answers, communication and so on...

inflatable dalek
2014-12-10, 09:15 PM
Sharp as I am, I missed the links in the text on first reading, so I've now found the citation for the Don quote.

I suppose, to play devil's advocate, he'd previously been hired directly to design toys based on his art so even if it's not a requirement of his contract he might have seen it as a gentleman's agreement that Hasbro have now stepped back from needlessly.

Not a viewpoint I'd agree with, but that would explain why he's annoyed about this when people like Roche aren't.


Don Figueroa thinks he's Jim Lee thanks to all the spit-and-polish jobs he was given by fandom in 2002/3. Transformers fandom is about as loyal as a cat and have successively decamped en masse to stalk E. J Su and then Nick Roche.

[I know you're being tongue in cheek, but to use this as a jumping off point...]

It's actually amazing the extent to which El Don has alienated people. Other artists have reinvented themselves (Milne), took a break from Transformers to pursue other avenues even if it means bailing on previously agreed work (though when Roche stood down from MTMTE he at least was only one issue in rather than only have one issue left of a miniseries as Figgy did with Beast Wars), or been disparaging about IDW/Hasbro whilst continuing to get work from them (Wildman was marvellously scathing about their lack of interest in doing Reg and how they had to be arm twisted into it). All with managing to alienate very few of their existing fans.

Don doing all at once is somewhat impressive on that score. I certainly don't think fandom's falling out with him has anything to do with their fickleness, more his own ego. Which equally can't be blamed on the previous appreciation he received when the likes of Roche and Roberts have shown no sign of things going to their head.

Tantrum
2014-12-11, 02:00 AM
And honestly...the entire unofficial Transformers industry is predicated on making money off of other people's ideas without compensating them. It's a fundamentally exploitative endeavour, and I seriously doubt the people behind it care much either way if the people who assemble their merchandise are being exploited. If they were that idealistic, they wouldn't be engaged in morally- and legally-grey profiteering to start with.To be fair, a decent amount of official Transformers industry has been predicated on making money off of other people's ideas without compensating them. Lots of original G1 alt-modes were based on unlicensed real cars, with sponsor decals tweaked to avoid infringement. That became legally risky, so now when Hasbro wants to cash in on nostalgia for those figures, they release a Generations/Classics/homage figure with an alt mode that's just different enough from the real thing to avoid licencing fees.

There is a lesson here for budding artists: donít go to work on licensed products and hand a design over to Hasbro! Your custom is your cool idea, and you can sell it to a third party.That might not just be for budding artists. Is there some do-not-compete clause that prevents established TF comic artists from submitting original designs to 3P companies? Completely original 3P toys might not have mass appeal, but if they can be promoted as, "From the man who brought you [Hasbro character he designed] comes [original 3P character toy]" that might attract more interest.

Not paying comic artists extra when one of their designs becomes a new toy seems reasonable. I doubt whoever designed the G1 Cyclonus toy got extra cash when his/her design was used as the basis for the Classics figure. That being said, I'd hope drawing an issue of a TF comic would pay more than drawing an issue of a similarly selling, non-merch-based comic to account for that fact that it's promoting toys.

The Don F. case might be different, though. It sounds like he came up with the design for use in a story, Hasbro didn't buy the story, but used the design anyway, so he never even got his comic drawing money. if he was getting a salary from Hasbro when he designed the characters, that'd be one thing. If he was later brought on to draw the comics featuring the design, but not the story he wanted to do, that could be OK. But, if something he did on his own time was used as the basis for a product without him getting anything, I can see why he'd be upset.

Clay
2014-12-11, 07:36 AM
To be fair, a decent amount of official Transformers industry has been predicated on making money off of other people's ideas without compensating them. Lots of original G1 alt-modes were based on unlicensed real cars, with sponsor decals tweaked to avoid infringement. That became legally risky, so now when Hasbro wants to cash in on nostalgia for those figures, they release a Generations/Classics/homage figure with an alt mode that's just different enough from the real thing to avoid licencing fees.

You know, I hadn't consider that before... Obviously, the Hasbro argument would be that they're offering a 'new' intellectual property by merging the existing product (a car) into a changing-form robot, whereas the third parties are taking both the car and the robot idea as well, but... yeah, that's a pretty good counterpoint. Is it valid to criticize Fansproject for plagiarism for making an add-on Winnebago set (http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=FPJ10016&mode=retail) for a toy car which Hasbro itself lifted from another company to begin with? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dome_Zero) Hot Rod's just an example, of course.

Cliffjumper
2014-12-11, 11:07 AM
Yeh, because we all buy them for the alt modes after all, right? Nothing to do with them transforming into cool robots. When I buy a Prowl toy I'm after a moderately convincing Datsun model for twice the price of a high-quality toy car, I don't want some recognisable action figure of Prowl.

You're falling into the Walky fallacy - "yeh but your lot do bad stuff as well" does not a counterpoint make. Especially as Hasbro haven't really said anything and are actually giving tacit approval - half of their design staff are fanboy twats and the things are all over conventions. They could serve notices to each and every 3P manufacturer knowing they'd melt away rather than contest things in court as they wouldn't be able to afford the fees even if they were in the right. They don't care, so why are the fanboys getting all het up about it?

There's no need to subscribe to one or the other, that's just the usual fandom shit from a bunch of ****s with too much time on their hands.

Clay
2014-12-11, 11:58 AM
Yeh, because we all buy them for the alt modes after all, right? Nothing to do with them transforming into cool robots. When I buy a Prowl toy I'm after a moderately convincing Datsun model for twice the price of a high-quality toy car, I don't want some recognisable action figure of Prowl.

Perhaps, but how many times have people complained when the alternate mode is changed? I remember people having fits because Binaltech Jazz was a Mazda instead of a Porsche, Movie Bumblebee was a Camaro instead of a Beetle, Movie Prime was a long-nosed tractor instead of a flip-top, etc. etc....

Turning into the cool robot is obviously the biggest draw, but it's not the only one. And while I agree that "you do bad things too so it's okay" isn't a real counterpoint, doing the same bad things [copying intellectual property without permission] for the same reasons [being too cheap to pay the fee] is.

But I wholeheartedly agree that the argument is a bit silly considering that Hasbro, the actual interested party, doesn't seem to care.

Cliffjumper
2014-12-11, 01:35 PM
Fandom's great, there's always someone willing to go completely ****ing mental over anything. But the rest of the world turns on, which is why no-one's really bothered changing Jazz or Bumblebee back.

I'd actually be curious to know how much was needed in terms of manufacturer licensing back in the 1980s. Matchbox/Corgi toys of the period didn't bear the current licence gubbins on the packaging (massive badge, Officially Licenced in mahoosive letters) despite usually outright naming what the product was a model of and being much more accurate than Transformers ever were. TBH though the Diaclones are about as accurate as the likes of the Universe Gallardo or Sideways. IIRC both the Diaclones (http://www.counter-x.net/footnotes/car_robot/index.html) and similar Machine Robo (http://www.counter-x.net/gobots/reviews/mr/f-1_robo.html) tended to outright name the car mode on packaging too.

Models are actually a bit of a curious thing - obviously the likes of Jaguar and Ferrari realised merchandise was big bucks somewhere in the eighties/nineties, but where do you get the licence for a Hawker Hurricane from? What about now for a Ligier when the name and design rights could well have followed the team through two takeovers and a bankruptcy.

Even these days you'll find unlicensed toy cars all over the place, usually fairly accurate but shorn of trademarks.

I wonder if they maybe painted themselves into a bit of a corner with BT by overtly going for the licenced route. Going door to door with the manufacturers was a bit of a noble intention but it also meant they wouldn't be able to get away with modifying a Porsche's headlights or airdam and bringing it out as "Meister feat. Completely Generic Car Based On Nothing No Sir" when Stuttgart told them to piss off.

Warcry
2014-12-11, 06:58 PM
While you are right that hasbro is more or less doing what they always did, the actual production values and quality of their "collector" releases has been subpar. Even the highly cherished MP releases are an actual, proper step down from the Binaltech line of 10 years ago, but fans are too caught up on the hype to see it. I'm not saying necessarily that the toys are bad, but they are *clearly* less than what they used to be.
Are they really? I mean, we were talking about Hasbro, not Takara (who generally seem to be spared the fan rage that targets the US company). The recent MPs are a step down from Binaltechs if you're a fan of die-cast, for sure. But compared to Hasbro's previous collector-oriented stuff -- which consisted of reissues with missing chrome with gimped launchers and all-plastic Alternators -- I'd say they're a step up. Not a huge one, but it's the first time that any of Takara's collector-oriented releases have gotten a Western release without being compromised in the process. :)

On the accountability front, I am not sure that the 3rd party designers look at it that way---from most interviews, it looks like they are actually pretty up front about their work and eager to socialize with the fandom. But that's what's biting them in the a$$...people actually PM them with silly questions, feeling entitled to answers, communication and so on...
A few Hasbro or Takara employees have done the same over the years, though, going back to when Aaron Archer would take questions over at TFW. That never said anything about their company's attitudes, though, just their own.

I suppose, to play devil's advocate, he'd previously been hired directly to design toys based on his art so even if it's not a requirement of his contract he might have seen it as a gentleman's agreement that Hasbro have now stepped back from needlessly.
On the other hand, were any of the toys he designed previously actually any good? IIRC they were all Titaniums.

To be fair, a decent amount of official Transformers industry has been predicated on making money off of other people's ideas without compensating them. Lots of original G1 alt-modes were based on unlicensed real cars, with sponsor decals tweaked to avoid infringement. That became legally risky, so now when Hasbro wants to cash in on nostalgia for those figures, they release a Generations/Classics/homage figure with an alt mode that's just different enough from the real thing to avoid licencing fees.
Fair point, and not one that I'd disagree with. Hasbro's IP infringement and dodging is a different beast than what third-party companies do, though. Hasbro takes the likeness of a car or plane and makes an unlicensed toy based on them. Third-party companies take the likeness of a toy company's characters and make competing toys based on them. What they're doing is the equivalent of Hasbro making bootleg F-15s and selling them to Australia, or building and selling their own Corvettes from scratch. They're using Hasbro's IP to create competing products that could, in theory, take money out of Hasbro's pockets. I don't think that's actually happening now, but if a third-party company ever got their costs under control and start selling their wares for competitive prices, in higher numbers...Both amount to IP theft, but only one has the potential to actually hurt the company that's being wronged.

Besides, Hasbro's hands aren't exactly lily-white when it comes to other sorts of immoral business practices. I don't particularly expect ethical behaviour from them either, albeit for different reasons.

That might not just be for budding artists. Is there some do-not-compete clause that prevents established TF comic artists from submitting original designs to 3P companies? Completely original 3P toys might not have mass appeal, but if they can be promoted as, "From the man who brought you [Hasbro character he designed] comes [original 3P character toy]" that might attract more interest.
Probably not since comic work is usually done on contract, but unofficially it might hurt their prospects of doing official work in the future. Maybe it wouldn't, but I'd imagine most artists would be afraid of burning that particular bridge.

The Don F. case might be different, though. It sounds like he came up with the design for use in a story, Hasbro didn't buy the story, but used the design anyway, so he never even got his comic drawing money. if he was getting a salary from Hasbro when he designed the characters, that'd be one thing. If he was later brought on to draw the comics featuring the design, but not the story he wanted to do, that could be OK. But, if something he did on his own time was used as the basis for a product without him getting anything, I can see why he'd be upset.
He definitely drew comics that featured that design, so I don't think that's an issue. I'd be surprised if he didn't get at least a nominal payment for doing the original design, too -- the editors asked if they could use it in a different story, after all, and he not only told them it was okay but actually did some extra polishing on the design for them.

Honestly, I think the only reason it's an issue at all is because he's grown bitter about the TF brand in general. Back when he was still happy to be working on it, it was seemingly a non-issue that they based Cybertron Starscream primarily on his War Within designs without telling him.

You're falling into the Walky fallacy - "yeh but your lot do bad stuff as well" does not a counterpoint make. Especially as Hasbro haven't really said anything and are actually giving tacit approval - half of their design staff are fanboy twats and the things are all over conventions. They could serve notices to each and every 3P manufacturer knowing they'd melt away rather than contest things in court as they wouldn't be able to afford the fees even if they were in the right. They don't care, so why are the fanboys getting all het up about it?
For my part, I'm honestly not bothered much by the illegality of 3P stuff in and of itself. Maybe that's just because being active on the internet in the early 2000s has made me numb to it. I mean, it wasn't much more than a decade ago that piracy was a top activity for this fandom. Pirated TF comics and cartoons were everywhere, and this very site used to host gigabytes worth of them. Everyone had low-quality combiner bootlegs. Most people were downloading music and movies illegally back then, too. Everybody did it and nobody cared. The only difference is that third-party toys are sold instead of given away (which is worse, but the principle is the same). It does make me wary of doing business with them and gives me a jaded view of the companies and their motivations, but that's not due to moral indignation, it's just common sense when you're doing business on what amounts to the black market.

What does bother me is the smug third-party fans who constantly go around trying to prove that their toys are perfectly legal and the companies are doing nothing wrong. Especially when they use the fact that Hasbro isn't doing anything about it as "proof" while simultaneously using it as an excuse to shit on the company farther. "LOL, Hasblow can't even shut down third-party companies, they suck at everything!" No, you cretins. Hasbro could easily shut down third-party companies, or at the very least make it incredibly difficult for them to do business in the West. The fact that they don't isn't a sign a weakness, it's a sign that they don't want to step on something that their fans enjoy as long as it's not actually costing them money.

I just wish third-party fans would admit that their toys are what they are and stop trying to antagonize the giant company that's so far deigned to let them continue to exist. The recent fiasco with MP Exhaust shows exactly how easy it is to intimidate online small businesses into pulling legally-questionable products. The fact that Hasbro hasn't done so and shows absolutely no interest in doing so in the future really should earn them some goodwill from the third-party fandom, but all they get is unrelenting, irrational hate.

I wonder if they maybe painted themselves into a bit of a corner with BT by overtly going for the licenced route. Going door to door with the manufacturers was a bit of a noble intention but it also meant they wouldn't be able to get away with modifying a Porsche's headlights or airdam and bringing it out as "Meister feat. Completely Generic Car Based On Nothing No Sir" when Stuttgart told them to piss off.
I think they started having trouble even before that. Back during RiD, weren't they forced to hastily modify X-Brawn and take out a license for Side Burn because the car models were too close to the real thing and the manufacturers got wind of it?

Cliffjumper
2014-12-11, 08:09 PM
Good point - it's possibly a cultural thing, then; maybe Japanese companies and concessionaries are less inclined to sue. TBH, car brand toy merchandising is something I've often thought is a little silly - the free advertising of your car being seen on toystore shelves, in cartoons etc. would surely outweigh the licensing revenue considering that most of these companies deal in high-cost units and the merch in itself provides no competition (i.e. someone's not going to be put off owning a Ferrari by being able to pick up a 4-inch unlicenced toy Ferrari).

Denyer
2014-12-11, 09:55 PM
They've usually sold the likeness to other toy companies to use officially, though.

What does bother me is the smug third-party fans who constantly go around trying to prove that their toys are perfectly legal
Pretty sure that they are; Superman's protected because of the S-shield design, for instance, rather than spandex and a cape. Logos enjoy far more protection than a character with a wide range of sculpts that turns into a t-rex. Avoid the symbols and names (and exact vehicle designs) and manufacturers have some protection. Retailers are more likely to get themselves into hot water through association and in more litigious countries.

I do appreciate Hasbro's generally very laid back attitude towards fans, from having been more "everything is canon" than prescriptive over the years to rising to competition by putting out some very nice quality stuff in at least some of their product lines.

There's far less groupthink than it seems, the idiots are just more noticeable.

Most people were downloading music and movies illegally back then, too
I think most people still are, and are also buying more stuff legitimately because they actually become aware of stuff that way. Value and availability pay off more than trying unsuccessfully to lock stuff away.

Coming back around to the topic, but taking much the same view, I'd place myself very firmly in the bracket "third party fandom". And that's one of the main reasons I've been buying official product -- because of add-ons and nifty 3P releases to stand alongside it.

Tantrum
2014-12-11, 10:57 PM
I wasn't thinking about real-world alt modes in general, just updates of legacy characters. Generations Sideswipe doesn't look like a Lamborghini because Hasbro's in the business of making toy Lamborghinis. Generations Sideswipe looks like a Lamborghini so he resembles G1 Sideswipe. Modifing the alt mode a bit lets Hasbro cash in on the nostalgia created by the old Lamborghini design without compensating those who created it.

I wonder if that affects Hasbro's decision not to litigate at all. If they tried to go after that new 3P Not Mirage, their argument would basically boil down to, "Your Honor, they can't make a toy robot that converts into an unlicensed Ligier F1 racer; that's our job."

The fact that Hasbro hasn't done so and shows absolutely no interest in doing so in the future really should earn them some goodwill from the third-party fandom, but all they get is unrelenting, irrational hate.Is that hate actually common, or are the hateful just more vocal than everyone else? I'd imagine most fans would be at worst ambivalent if not happy that additional toys are available. When you think of how much money a company can spend on branding and public relations to give themselves a good image, letting 3P companies slide might make financial sense. They're probably not losing too many sales to $50 deluxes. The meager sales they do lose can be considered a PR cost for the goodwill generated by not cracking down.

Warcry
2014-12-11, 11:50 PM
They've usually sold the likeness to other toy companies to use officially, though.
Yeah, I think this is the crux of it -- if Company A is paying them $100,000 to be able to make toys of their car, they have to sue Company B when they start making them without a license. If not, Company A is will stop paying them.

Pretty sure that they are; Superman's protected because of the S-shield design, for instance, rather than spandex and a cape. Logos enjoy far more protection than a character with a wide range of sculpts that turns into a t-rex. Avoid the symbols and names (and exact vehicle designs) and manufacturers have some protection. Retailers are more likely to get themselves into hot water through association and in more litigious countries.
I think that argument has some merit when you look at some third-party toys, but not all. Warbot Defender for example was just a pile of blocks that vaguely approximated Springer. The Hearts of Steel stuff? Assuming it's not based on official concept art, that'd be hard to sue over. But once they moved into making stuff like Scoria that is designed to perfectly match an animation model? That's a lot harder to dodge. Not a slam dunk, but not something that'll get laughed out of court, either.

The marketing is what really does them in, though. They sell their product through online Transformers retailers, including a great many sites that sell only Transformers, while advertising solely through Transformers fan sites to Transformers fans. That's something that (to my knowledge) has never happened on a large scale with, say, not-Superman or not-Mario toys. Third parties don't try to hide that they're trying to cash in on the Transformers brand, even to the point of posting on Transformers message boards about how they're trying to make their toys as faithful to the original Transformers designs as possible. If they'd aloofly ignored the fandom, sold their toys exclusively though their own sites and pretended like they had no idea what TF fans were talking about ("Megatron? Never heard of it.") they probably could have created a legal fiction to cover their asses. But if it ever came to a court case, it would be very hard to argue their way past the pretty blatant association with the Transformers brand that they've worked to create. What they've done is tantamount to admitting that they know they're using Hasbro's IP, which makes it almost impossible to argue that their designs just "happen" to be similar. Whether the likenesses are good or not, the intent to infringe is there and they basically admit to it.

Of course, "if it ever came to a court case" is the rub -- it never, ever will. Like you said, the retailers are really the only ones with their necks out here. It's way easier to lean on them than it is to sue 2,000 random guys in China. Even that's not likely to happen unless things get ridiculously out of hand...if Hasbro can't be bothered to sue people who openly bootleg their toys and sell them at retail, they're not going to fire up their legal team over this. And frankly, that's a good thing. Considering the horror stories you read of big companies shutting down fan sites or suing people for making kitbashes, Hasbro's laid-back approach earns them a fair bit of respect in my books.

Is that hate actually common, or are the hateful just more vocal than everyone else? I'd imagine most fans would be at worst ambivalent if not happy that additional toys are available.
Depends where you go. Some boards are filled with people who flame anyone who's anti-third-party, and others are full of people who attack you if you try to discuss the topic at all. It's a bit of an echo chamber effect, one assumes, as those boards attract like-minded people and grow even more extreme in their views, but there are definitely a lot of people with very strong opinions one way or another.

When you think of how much money a company can spend on branding and public relations to give themselves a good image, letting 3P companies slide might make financial sense. They're probably not losing too many sales to $50 deluxes. The meager sales they do lose can be considered a PR cost for the goodwill generated by not cracking down.
That's a big part of it. Also you have to take into account the costs of actually pressing legal action. They'd never recoup the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars that they'd have to spend to actually get third-party distribution shut down. As long as sales lost to third party toys cost them less than a lawsuit would, they're wise to keep ignoring it.

Tantrum
2014-12-12, 03:05 AM
The marketing is what really does them in, though. They sell their product through online Transformers retailers, including a great many sites that sell only Transformers, while advertising solely through Transformers fan sites to Transformers fans.That might actually count in the 3P companies' favor. Decisions on trademark infringment take into account the likelihood of confusion and the sophistication of the consumer*. By selling through the fandom, they ensure that those buying their products know they aren't getting an official Hasbro product. If you put 3P figures on the shelves at mass retail, you might get a non-hardcore-fan buying one, thinking it's a Hasbro product. I doubt anyone who cares enough about Transformers to frequent fan sites has made that mistake.

The actual legality is probably moot. If Hasbro sought to shut 3P down, they'd win via quantity of legalese, not quality. They don't even have to shut down manufacturing, just import. A few cease-and-desist letters to retailers would probably scare them off, and cost a lot less than hundreds of thousands.

Considering the horror stories you read of big companies shutting down fan sites or suing people for making kitbashes, Hasbro's laid-back approach earns them a fair bit of respect in my books.The horror story I remember is Disney suing daycare centers for painting unauthorized Mickey Mouse murals (http://www.snopes.com/disney/wdco/daycare.asp) on their walls. It sounds like if companies don't contest all uses of their trademark, they may lose it. If you let group A slide with your stuff, then group B can use A as precedent to use your stuff. That's what makes Hasbro's acceptance of 3P so surprising to me. They're not just allowing these small groups to use their character designs, they're setting a precedent for others.

*Here's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_trademark_law#Infringement:_likelihood_of_confusion_test) the wikipedia link, or open Polaroid v Polarad (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=Polaroid+Corporation+v.+Polarad+Electronics&hl=en&as_sdt=4,60,107,112,114,122,127,129&case=2293827617926067028&scilh=0) and look for the word "proximity" for a list of what gets considered.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-12, 03:37 PM
On the other hand, were any of the toys he designed previously actually any good? IIRC they were all Titaniums.

IIRC he was also involved in the original classics Jetfire (now there's a thought, both classics Jetfire take cues from a Bandai toy, effectively being based on a stylised character model based on that toy akin to Not Ironfist. Did Hastak have permission for that? Same would go for Whirl and Roadbuster presumably?) and had a hand in the original MP Prime. I seem to recall reading that ROTF Bludgeon was developed from something he pitched as well.

Considering he originally designed most of the characters as being able to work as toys (well, in theory, the titaniums somewhat disprove this claim) there was actually very little reason to actually involve him in the design process as he'd already done the main work, the remained could have been handled by a HasTak staffer. It certainly feels as if it could have been a sop to make up for not otherwise receiving any cash for them being turned into toys, sort of like the guy who created the Joker getting a meaningless producer credit on The Dark Knight to compensate for not getting any royalties off it.


In terms of confusion over contracts and rights (and it's interesting it's specifically Megatron he has a problem with, as the intended main guy on the Ongoing Bumblebee is almost certainly based on a design of his as well even if I'm not entirely sure if he ever got to use it in a comic), there might be a twofold problem.

The first being this occurring in the period when he Went Away from the book and before his brief return so he might actually have been "Off contract" when he agreed to let them use it, whilst the second is Andy Schmidt being such an incompetent idiot I wouldn't be totally surprised if he managed to screw up whatever the standard arrangement was without even trying.

Warcry
2014-12-12, 06:22 PM
That might actually count in the 3P companies' favor. Decisions on trademark infringment take into account the likelihood of confusion and the sophistication of the consumer*. By selling through the fandom, they ensure that those buying their products know they aren't getting an official Hasbro product. If you put 3P figures on the shelves at mass retail, you might get a non-hardcore-fan buying one, thinking it's a Hasbro product. I doubt anyone who cares enough about Transformers to frequent fan sites has made that mistake.
I'm not sure that's applicable -- the case you're talking about seems to be one in which a company applied for a trademark and Polaroid took issue with it because their name was too similar. With what we're talking about, nobody is applying for anything. They're just going ahead and making whatever they want without any regard for whether or not it's legal. I don't know whether the same rules would apply in this case, or if there's a different set of standards for product infringement vs. opposing similar trademarks.

Assuming the rules are similar though, the "purchaser sophistication" point would definitely break in the third parties' favour. On the other hand...

Strength of the plaintiff's trademark
It's hard to argue against the strength of Hasbro's brand. Everyone knows what Transformers are, and they've done a good job keeping their characters in circulation through things like the IDW comics, Kreons and the Legends game.

Degree of similarity between the two marks at issue
Hasbro can produce official toys and Hasbro-commissioned art of their characters that predate and look exactly like the third-party toys, so they win this one.

Similarity of the goods and services at issue
Transforming robots are transforming robots in the eyes of the court, one assumes.

Evidence of actual confusion
Lots of fans certainly do call their toys by the official characters' names, and mix-and-match them on shelves with official toys...

Quality of the defendant's goods or services
Variable. Some are utter crap, while others rival or equal the quality of official products. It would really depend on who they were suing, though I'm not sure any third-party toy would meet Hasbro's rigorous child-safety standards since they're not designed for that to start with.

Whether the defendant's attempt to register the trademark was bona fide (in good faith).
They're not really registering anything, obviously, but again assuming that the same standards apply...their products are obviously meant to resemble Hasbro-owned characters, which probably doesn't count as "in good faith".

On balance Hasbro probably wins, but in practice I'd imagine the rules they'd have to prove were broken were different than the ones we're talking about.

The actual legality is probably moot. If Hasbro sought to shut 3P down, they'd win via quantity of legalese, not quality. They don't even have to shut down manufacturing, just import. A few cease-and-desist letters to retailers would probably scare them off, and cost a lot less than hundreds of thousands.
Yeah, this is what it comes down to. It would never come to trial because none of the parties involved would actually be willing to risk it. If Hasbro ever came down on the third-party scene, the products would simply disappear from all the big-name sites after they sent out a few letters. They could probably get it banned from eBay too, since eBay like to ban anything that big companies claim violates their IP.

You'd still be able to buy the stuff from sketchy Asian sites, one assumes, but it would be a really big hit to the producers wallets and I don't know how many of them would survive it. A few of the big names could probably weather the storm, but not many.

The horror story I remember is Disney suing daycare centers for painting unauthorized Mickey Mouse murals (http://www.snopes.com/disney/wdco/daycare.asp) on their walls. It sounds like if companies don't contest all uses of their trademark, they may lose it. If you let group A slide with your stuff, then group B can use A as precedent to use your stuff. That's what makes Hasbro's acceptance of 3P so surprising to me. They're not just allowing these small groups to use their character designs, they're setting a precedent for others.
The really stupid thing in that case is that you don't need to sue. You just need to stop them from using your IP without a licence. Suing is certainly one way to accomplish that...but so is giving them permission for it. The article makes a weak excuse for why Disney couldn't (their other licencees would be mad!) but considering their rivals did exactly that, it doesn't seem to be a real issue. Meanwhile they ran up big lawyers' fees and gave themselves a PR black eye for no reason.

IIRC he was also involved in the original classics Jetfire (now there's a thought, both classics Jetfire take cues from a Bandai toy, effectively being based on a stylised character model based on that toy akin to Not Ironfist. Did Hastak have permission for that? Same would go for Whirl and Roadbuster presumably?) and had a hand in the original MP Prime. I seem to recall reading that ROTF Bludgeon was developed from something he pitched as well.
The toy's design was first featured on the solicited cover to IDW Stormbringer #1. Contrary to popular belief, it was not designed by Don Figueroa. (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Jetfire_%28G1%29#Classics)
Not so much. IIRC, Don just saw the toy design before it was released and liked it so much that he used it in the comic. Re: Bludgeon, it sounds like Don did some concept art for an Energon or Cybertron Bludgeon (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Bludgeon_%28ROTF%29#Notes). It sounds like the ROTF toy is similar to his original design but not the same (Don himself also evolved it in a different direction to become IDW Bludgeon), but who knows what they changed?

Can you honestly say that any of the Jetfires Hasbro has released since the first one look any more like a Macross Valkyrie than, say, Starscream or Windrazor do? Even the character model looks nothing like a Valkyrie. And since nobody but Hasbro have a claim on Jetfire-the-character, it would be really hard to argue IP infringement. I'd put it in the same category as Warbot Defender, personally...it might be meant to reference someone else's IP but it looks so little like the original that I doubt anyone would make the connection if they weren't already in the know. Whereas Scoria, Hexatron and Quakewave are blatantly Slag, Sixshot and Shockwave instead of just being sort of inspired by them.

I think most people still are, and are also buying more stuff legitimately because they actually become aware of stuff that way. Value and availability pay off more than trying unsuccessfully to lock stuff away.
I forgot to respond to this!

Some people do, but proportionately I think it's way less. A decade ago internet users had a much higher level of computer knowledge than they do now, since back then it was still a "nerd" thing and nowadays everyone uses it. Most of the people I know wouldn't even be able to tell you what a "torrent" was, let alone how to use it. A lot of other people only pirated for convenience and are happy to avoid the hassle and pay for stuff legitimately now that media companies are slowly starting to come around and sell their wares online (often without the same DRM headaches that you'd get in the early years), or in the case of the TF fandom in particular, have released the shows/comics we used to pirate on DVD and in TPBs.

There's obviously still a ton of piracy in Asia (where the "bite me, I'll download whatever I want" attitude I used to see so much here in the early 2000s is alive and well), and a lot of folks in the West do still pirate, but it's not quite the cultural phenomenon it once was, IMO.

Dead Man Wade
2014-12-13, 02:41 PM
Lots of fans certainly do call their toys by the official characters' names, and mix-and-match them on shelves with official toys...

That's not indicative of confusion. Everyone involved knows the score, and is making an informed decision to buy the third-party toy. If they were on the shelf at Wal-mart, it'd be a bit murkier; the fact that they're carried exclusively through specialty websites is probably going to work in their favor.

Confusion tends to indicate more that someone might buy the defendant's toy instead of the plaintiff's because they don't know any better.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-13, 04:06 PM
Not so much. IIRC, Don just saw the toy design before it was released and liked it so much that he used it in the comic. Re: Bludgeon, it sounds like Don did some concept art for an Energon or Cybertron Bludgeon (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Bludgeon_%28ROTF%29#Notes). It sounds like the ROTF toy is similar to his original design but not the same (Don himself also evolved it in a different direction to become IDW Bludgeon), but who knows what they changed?

Interesting then that his reaction to the Classics Jetfire borrowing from his War Within design (the toy kibble as add ons to the animation model) was "Cool, put it in a comic" rather than "THIEVES!", suggesting there is actually some genuine reason he thinks the Megatron situation is different (even if it is ego driven).

Can you honestly say that any of the Jetfires Hasbro has released since the first one look any more like a Macross Valkyrie than, say, Starscream or Windrazor do?

Haven't had a close look at the new one yet, but the original classics Jetfire on my shelf in his hat and backpack is blatantly a shrunk down cutified version of the look of the original toy.

Sans accessories it's not as strong, but the extra bits and bobs are clearly designed to make him look like the old boy.

Mind, it's not impossible Hasbro actually got permission for the resemblance. Or even that it was still covered by the terms of the original deal they made in the '80's, there's a surprisingly long history of that sort of thing thanks to people not bothering to include an expiration date on the assumption these things will just peter out naturally. It's the sort of thing that allowed the Daleks and Triffids to be in Looney Tunes Back In Action because of film contracts that were signed in the '60's (and the Terry Nation estate huffing and puffing about the Daleks only to be told there was nothing they could do about it was glorious. Shame the fuss makes it unlikely Warners will take advantage of their rights to use the Peter Cushing Daleks in perpetuity by sticking them in the background of every film they make).

Warcry
2014-12-13, 11:02 PM
Confusion tends to indicate more that someone might buy the defendant's toy instead of the plaintiff's because they don't know any better.
Well obviously they don't know any better, they keep calling this other company's toy "Shockwave" and taking pictures of him with Hasbro product!

I know that's unreasonable, but it's exactly the sort of argument that IP lawyers are paid to make.

Haven't had a close look at the new one yet, but the original classics Jetfire on my shelf in his hat and backpack is blatantly a shrunk down cutified version of the look of the original toy.
Eh. I don't think it's anywhere near as close as you're suggesting. Aside from the colour scheme and the rocket boosters in jet mode, the two toys don't share many distinctive features. Maybe the antenna guns too? But the proportions are completely different, they have totally different heads (Classics Jetfire's mask looks as much like Optimus Prime's head as it does the sleek, nigh-featureless Valkyrie), and one of them has butterfly wings and huge-ass flip-down cannons. I mean, look at Tread Bolt (http://www.tfu.info/2008/Autobot/TFUTreadBolt/treadbolt.htm) or Dreadwind (http://www.tfu.info/2007/Decepticon/BCDreadwind/dreadwind.htm). Done up in a different colour scheme the toy looks absolutely nothing like a Valkyrie (In fact, IMO it's got more in common with Armada Jetfire). Which is what I was saying about some of the 3P designs before. Paint up Defender in blue and purple and the only people who'll look at it and think "Springer" are people who know about the original. Paint Scoria those colours and people will ask "Was Slag those colours in G2?", because it looks exactly like Slag.

Mind, it's not impossible Hasbro actually got permission for the resemblance. Or even that it was still covered by the terms of the original deal they made in the '80's, there's a surprisingly long history of that sort of thing thanks to people not bothering to include an expiration date on the assumption these things will just peter out naturally.
I'm pretty sure they didn't at the time they designed any of this stuff. Last year Hasbro got sued by Harmony Gold (the company that has the rights to Macross stuff in the US) for releasing a TF/G.I. Joe SDCC exclusive that looked a lot closer to the original model than Classics Jetfire was (this thing here (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/File:SDCC2013Jetfire.jpg)). They wound up settling, so presumably there's an understanding there now.

Anyway, considering that toy provoked a lawsuit from a notoriously litigious company but Classics Jetfire did not, I think it's safe to assume that the line for copyright infringement is somewhere between the two. :)

Red Dave Prime
2014-12-14, 01:11 AM
I knows something warcry doesn't...

*not technically true but ssssh! I was sworn to secrecy.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-14, 01:20 AM
Eh. I don't think it's anywhere near as close as you're suggesting. Aside from the colour scheme and the rocket boosters in jet mode, the two toys don't share many distinctive features. Maybe the antenna guns too? But the proportions are completely different, they have totally different heads (Classics Jetfire's mask looks as much like Optimus Prime's head as it does the sleek, nigh-featureless Valkyrie), and one of them has butterfly wings and huge-ass flip-down cannons. I mean, look at Tread Bolt (http://www.tfu.info/2008/Autobot/TFUTreadBolt/treadbolt.htm) or Dreadwind (http://www.tfu.info/2007/Decepticon/BCDreadwind/dreadwind.htm). Done up in a different colour scheme the toy looks absolutely nothing like a Valkyrie (In fact, IMO it's got more in common with Armada Jetfire).

Let me present as exhibit A, my non award winning photogography of the original Jetfire (as owned by Cliffjumper before me. Best not ask why he struggles with fisting as a result) and the original classics version [with me trying to pose both in as close to the same position as possible]:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152716035109219&l=3a3a6bf46b

As the one on the right is clearly a squatter and more rounded version of the one on the left, the head being squatter and more rounded wouldn't be much of an argument.

[though Cliffy may make his argument at this point that Prime's head is ripped off from the Ideon]

I'm not saying that any such resulting lawsuit would have been fair, but there'd have been enough for Bandai (and their subsidiaries) to make a case if they'd presented in the right way.

Subsequent repaints of the toy are slightly unfairly presented because if the owners of the original design had objected at the time the following versions wouldn't have happened.

In terms of the subsequent actual lawsuit, it could be as a result of something as mundane as Harmony Gold only just noticing their copyright has been infringed upon (rather like how David Gerrold got away with recycling his rejected Trek novel ideas into the Star Wolf series simply because Paramount never spotted them), or whatever deal made the original Classics Jetfire possible had expired by that point (certainly it's hard to see them risking the new Jetfire unless any issues have now been sorted out).


Red Dave Prime (and anyone else here who is a friend of mine on Facebook) knows a secret about this post, but shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh don't tell the non facebook Warcry (who will have also recently missed out on me revealing I had a dream where he, Hound, Sades and a Fat Teenager came to stay with me in the childhood home I no longer live in). You could utterly destroy every point I've tried to make in this post.

So as a distraction technique, here's a photo of my cat deciding the original jetfire is clearly the best and the Classics version MUST DIE:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152716035279219&l=8587183b82

inflatable dalek
2014-12-14, 01:23 AM
I knows something warcry doesn't...

*not technically true but ssssh! I was sworn to secrecy.

This winding up being posted before my comment setting it up is absolutely brilliant.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-14, 01:25 AM
Though I'm not sure what you mean by "Technically" there. It's not as if I've provided links by which anyone not on Facebook can view the pictures and my comments!

Oh.

Red Dave Prime
2014-12-14, 01:44 AM
Oh dalex. The tin is open and the worms are "technically" everywhere.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-14, 01:47 AM
Oh dalex. The tin is open and the worms are "technically" everywhere.

I can ban you.


Right fellow mods? Hello?

Red Dave Prime
2014-12-14, 05:50 PM
http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l7fungmewz1qbrapro1_500.jpg

(did mean to post this earlier but hey, life etc.)

Cliffjumper
2014-12-15, 01:39 AM
Regarding Harmony Gold and the Jetfire/Valkyrie thing, with the disclaimer that I forget how much of this is backed up by fact and how much is speculation...

IIRC Bandai cut Hasbro a very lenient deal with the Takatoku moulds, providing they kept it to the Western market, where at the time Bandai had very few ambitions and were happy to license whatever to whoever (which is how Gobots came about). Hasbro wanted the line's media to have the potential to go more worldwide without copyright problems, hence the Skyfire fat kid with a backpack thing so the show could be screened in Japan, China etc., but they were obviously happy to have the toys onboard. For the other Takatoku moulds (Deluxe whatevers) one of the main reasons they're not in much is they were basically stop-gap toys, the contemporary equivalent of throwing out UT recolours in Movie packaging.

Harmony Gold would definitely have known about Jetfire as, infamously, Hasbro's Western rights for the kanzen henkei Valkyrie meant the figure couldn't be used for the Robotech line, which was a blow for them as it was the only thing anyone wanted; IIRC they could only used the superdeformed ones (after Select's rights lapsed maybe, though Select were as dodgy as **** what with their mini-Deluxe Vehicles and mini-Deluxe Insecticons... though 1980s licensing seems to have leaned towards physical moulds rather than more ephemeral stuff such as likenesses which is probably why things like red Countaches pop up everywhere) and also created a non-transforming jet mode version for their line of 3.75" figures - which might be why they kicked off about the Joe exclusive as they did have the rights to a 'playset' version.

Dead Man Wade
2014-12-15, 03:23 PM
Well obviously they don't know any better, they keep calling this other company's toy "Shockwave" and taking pictures of him with Hasbro product!

I know that's unreasonable, but it's exactly the sort of argument that IP lawyers are paid to make.

But they wouldn't, because it wouldn't hold up under even the lightest scrutiny.

Despite what crime dramas and procedurals would have you believe, most lawyers worth their salt (which they'd need to be to be hired by Hasbro) don't treat litigation with a spray and pray attitude, throwing everything they can against the wall and seeing what sticks. They pick the strategy most likely to win, and put their time and effort into that.

Warcry
2014-12-15, 07:13 PM
I can ban you.
Ah, but then you'd be abusing your mod powers and I'd have to ban you! :glance:

Though I'm not sure what you mean by "Technically" there. It's not as if I've provided links by which anyone not on Facebook can view the pictures and my comments!

Oh.
In that case, you'll be happy to know that the links you posted don't actually work when I click them. I'm forced to assume that there was never anything there to start with, and that whole series of posts was an elaborate smokescreen to hide the fact that you've secretly been convinced by my unassailable logic. :)

Harmony Gold would definitely have known about Jetfire as, infamously, Hasbro's Western rights for the kanzen henkei Valkyrie meant the figure couldn't be used for the Robotech line, which was a blow for them as it was the only thing anyone wanted; IIRC they could only used the superdeformed ones (after Select's rights lapsed maybe, though Select were as dodgy as **** what with their mini-Deluxe Vehicles and mini-Deluxe Insecticons... though 1980s licensing seems to have leaned towards physical moulds rather than more ephemeral stuff such as likenesses which is probably why things like red Countaches pop up everywhere) and also created a non-transforming jet mode version for their line of 3.75" figures - which might be why they kicked off about the Joe exclusive as they did have the rights to a 'playset' version.
Interesting! I didn't know that Harmony Gold had put out a 3.75" line but that does make sense -- an argument could be made that the G.I. Joe vehicle is exactly the same thing.

But they wouldn't, because it wouldn't hold up under even the lightest scrutiny.
Wouldn't it? You're looking at it from a fan's perspective, and for us, sure, it's a bit ridiculous. We know perfectly well who makes what, and can make an informed decision based on that. But are we what matters when you discuss market confusion, or do we also have to take into account the effect on any casual buyers who might stumble across the things online (and who, in all likelihood, would assume that they are official until someone tells them otherwise)? The way the stuff is sold and advertised alongside official stuff, it would be easy for casual buyers to be confused. The fact that the fandom treats the stuff as representations of Hasbro characters would only deepen that confusion. I mean, my wife knows a fair bit about Transformers via osmosis and occasionally buys stuff for me, but if I showed her Hexatron or something she'd have no clue it wasn't official.

Personally, I think this line of reasoning falls apart because no matter how confused a casual buyer might be, the super-high prices probably preclude them from actually buying the stuff even if they think it's the real thing. If a lot of people are confused by a product but the ones actually buying it aren't, does the confusion actually matter? Looking at it as a fan I'd say it doesn't. But legally, it could be a bit more dicey. Would you have to prove that everyone who buys the 3P stuff does so with full understanding of what it is in order to use that as a defence?

At the very least, I think you could make a legitimate argument out of it.

inflatable dalek
2014-12-15, 08:52 PM
Ah, but then you'd be abusing your mod powers and I'd have to ban you! :glance:

Not if I ban you first!

*Click*

There, that's done. Nothing can possssssssssibly go wrong.


In that case, you'll be happy to know that the links you posted don't actually work when I click them. I'm forced to assume that there was never anything there to start with, and that whole series of posts was an elaborate smokescreen to hide the fact that you've secretly been convinced by my unassailable logic. :)

Odd, those links claim to be visible by non-Facebookers. I can only assume Facebook hates you.

It's probably also worth remembering that Takara wouldn't have been any keener than Bandai for Jetfire to be a prominent presence in the series, that's as likely to have had an impact on the mucking about with him for the cartoon as anything else (I will bet Takara were one of the two* main reasons there was never a proper He-Man/She-Ra style TV crossover between the Joes and Transformers and what we did get was very very coy. They wouldn't have wanted a TV show they were half invested in to promote toys they had no part in).




*The other being the cartoon being made with an eye on worldwide sales and the slow role out for A Real American Hero outside America. Notably the "Old Snake" episode (plus the brief appearance by "Faireborn's father") happened in 1986 when attempts would have been on the table- if not well underway at the time they made the episode- to bring the Joes to places like Europe where the franchise had not been presented in a unified way before.

Cliffjumper
2014-12-15, 11:50 PM
Interesting! I didn't know that Harmony Gold had put out a 3.75" line but that does make sense -- an argument could be made that the G.I. Joe vehicle is exactly the same thing.

http://www.toyarchive.com/Robotech/st4/vehver.html is the jet playset; poke around the rest of the site for the obvious omission (and in most forms, too). Whereas at the same time you had Zark and Zardak (http://www.toyarchive.com/Convertors/Maladroids.html) out at the same time as Jetfire... Eighties, you so silly.

Cliffjumper
2014-12-15, 11:54 PM
(I will bet Takara were one of the two* main reasons there was never a proper He-Man/She-Ra style TV crossover between the Joes and Transformers and what we did get was very very coy. They wouldn't have wanted a TV show they were half invested in to promote toys they had no part in).

Takara put out Joe figures in Japan (http://www.yojoe.com/international/japan/) (the opening paragraph says Hasbro but it's contradicted on most of the individual pages and their little retarded logo is clearly visible in the pictures). It just didn't take off.

Dead Man Wade
2014-12-16, 02:36 PM
Wouldn't it? You're looking at it from a fan's perspective, and for us, sure, it's a bit ridiculous.

No. I'm looking at it from the perspective of what can be proven in a court of law. If these toys were being sold on store shelves, Hasbro could (if they were inclined to pursue the issue) claim that third-party figures were confusing parents and casual fans. However, the fact that they're being sold exclusively on websites that advertise exclusively on websites like TFArchive under names like Mania King is going to make it incredibly easy for any attorney with a central nervous system to poke Unicron-sized holes in that argument. All it would take is a paralegal scouring websites like ours for references to third-party toys (including reviews and forum posts) to be able to prove that the target market is buying these toys knowing full well what they are or are not.

Would Hasbro still be able to sue these companies into oblivion? Absolutely. But they would not be able to argue confusion in good faith without it being a giant waste of time, which firms that command the kind of money Hasbro is putting out in this hypothetical aren't in the habit of pursuing.


We know perfectly well who makes what, and can make an informed decision based on that. But are we what matters when you discuss market confusion

When you're talking about Transformers based on thirty-year-old designs that only matter to adult fans and are specifically meant to appeal to people who feel that Hasbro's output isn't true enough to the animation model, and that are prohibitively expensive? Yes.

At the very least, I think you could make a legitimate argument out of it.

But as you said, you're looking at it from a fan's perspective. In a court of law, all that you'd need to shoot down a claim of confusion on the part of buyers is proof that the target market (i.e., adult transformers fans) genuinely are not able to tell the difference.