I had no idea that the “How to Spot KO Transformers Right Now” article would be my all-time most viewed post, for THREE YEARS now. So, it’s only right that I do a sequel, or more precisely: an update. Let’s look at a few more current “leading indicators” that you may be looking at (or may have purchased) a knockoff Transformer.
Factions Symbols Missing
After Bandai’s victory over knock off producers, and the further stories of Lego taking down KO empires, some knock off companies have started avoiding the faction symbols altogether. Either the spot will remain blank, or some are so bold as to put an outline of the faction symbol embossed into the materials to show where a third-party sticker would be applied. Some knock off companies include faction symbol stickers along with their orders, but even this may come to an end soon.
Tampos Not Aligned
If the knock off company is bold enough to put a faction symbol on the figure, often there is a notable shift in placement. Up, down, left, right, generally not so much of a size difference, but the look of a sticker that’s been put on crooked. Almost invariably, the official will have a faction symbol that is perfectly aligned.
Lack of Paint = Joints don’t Hold
One of the ways bootleggers save money is by reducing the amount of paint applications on a toy. So, instead of using plastic painted orange (for instance), they’ll use a less expensive orange plastic. It’s relatively easy to spot the difference, but if you can’t, look for this telltale sign: The joints won’t hold in their sockets as well as the official, because they lack the extra size created by the paint layers.
Won’t Stay Tabbed: Mold Irregularity
No matter how good the knock off, there still remains a chance that the mold being re-created may contain flaws. On top of this, molds that are used too often by knock off companies will begin to develop “mold degradation,” resulting in transforming parts not pegging in as well or staying tabbed as firmly as the original.
The 2020s: Era of the Plain Brown Box
Remember those Bandai victories I spoke about earlier? Well, that event has put a lot of knock off producers off of recreating the official box, creating their own box, or sometimes, having a box at all. As such, many knock off companies are sending out their dubious wares in the plainest of brown shipping boxes. This also may be occurring in the wake of Hasbro’s victory over Zeta Toys, nearly completely derailing the production and sale of Zeta’s toy which looks surprisingly similar to a certain planet-eater we know from 1986.
Hopefully you can use a few of these tricks to avoid getting ripped off, or maybe keep someone else from getting played. Whether you agree with the existence of knock offs or not: It never hurts to educate yourself before diving into a purchase, especially if it’s on eBay or the like. As always: Buy what you want, but make sure to use everything at your disposal to make an informed purchase, this way you’ll be more satisfied in the end!