While making my rounds through TF-Con 2019 in Burbank, California, I stumbled upon a very fun story. When I cover any convention, I always do my best to take time and talk to my fellow toy collectors and toy vendors. I love hearing where certain toy come from, or how the seller acquired it– I’m not kidding when I say that toy collecting is magic. It’s also learning about history. But instead of hearing about dudes on battlefields, it’s companies and some of the more interesting decisions they make with their toy lines.
I noticed the beautiful, and very expensive Transformers on the shelf at my friend Richie’s booth. Typically with a price tag like that, there is an interesting story behind it. He assured me there was.
These two toys featured in the images above are both knock off Transformers from Korea. That said, the quality of the toys are, from what I hear, incredible. Rumor has it, according to my source, that Takara Tomy themselves may have sold their very own molds to third party companies in Korea. Admittedly, that’s a completely unsupported statement, but it’s speculated that’s possibly what happened.
I countered with the notion that it may be a possibility that if Takara Tomy’s factories were in China, that perhaps the Chinese factories took it upon themselves to sell the molds to Korean, figuring Takara was done with that Transformers line, or simply didn’t care. This is likely with the Cliffjumper toy below. Apparently, the one on the left is official and the one on the right is a bootleg. To me, they look so close, but not exactly the same.
With toys are large as the ones above with the Transformers line, it’s theorized that there’s a chance they were engineered from scratch in Korea. Was there a Jumbo line in the US that was scrapped? Are there molds existing for these somewhere? I’ve learned over the years that there’s something very special about certain Korean knock-off toys (Macross, specifically), and the toys are well regarded by fans. Truly, they’ve become highly sought out collectibles in their own right.
So hear that, friends? Love the toys you love!
It’s just kind of nice when they’re worth something as well. It feels like, in a way, that they love you back.