In what looks like breaking toy news, rumor has it that Hasbro may have officially gone after third party Transformers toy maker Zeta (based out of China) for their Zeta ZV02 Core Star, or as I like to call it ‘Totally Not Unicron”. Below is the initial image that set the internet a blaze, showing a picture of Hasbro toy designer John Warden with the Unicron jumbo that Hasbro is crowd funding, with a to-scale image of the Zeta ZV02 Core Star imposed between them:
News of Hasbro going after Zeta to shut down their ZV02 Core Star was discovered via well-known Transformers fan site Seibertron. Below is a transcript of their announcement:
In a move that has surprised both HasLab Unicron’s supporters and detractors, Hasbro appears to have made an official stance against third party infringement on their intellectual properties. We’ve received word from Seibertronian Calidus that if not indefinitely postponed, Zeta Toys’ version of Unicron (aka Not-Unicron) may be in fact cancelled as all listings for the item have been removed from most social media outlets, including YouTube.
Although we are only able to speculate at this time it can be reasonably be assumed this is tied to the current crowd supported HasLab Unicron project, which as of this writing has not yet met its quota. The deadline for HasLab’s Unicron is early next month, and since Zeta Toys announced their Not-Unicron, HasLab’s Unicron has actually seen a dip in orders.
Although there is no clear causation, with a character and Transformer fan event as big as Unicron, and with so much riding on the line, it would be safe to assume a correlation. Hasbro has not made large moves to stymie or silence most third party (or 3P) products, with toys clearly violating copyrights being manufactured in multiple numbers, for multiple hundreds of dollars, year after year.
This pretender to the Unicron throne disappearing from so many outlets so quickly would constitute a rare action on Hasbro’s part.
So, if it’s a Unicron you’re after, it turns out there’s one out there right now, and best of all he’s the real deal. As time and again so many other Transformers are copied by third party companies, there is apparently one who won’t stand for it.
As far as we over here at Toy Wizards are concerned, we think that Hasbro is completely in the right in this case. While it’s very difficult for them to copyright the design of the robots (hence why so many Transformers inspired items exist), Zeta really pulled a low move with this one. Hasbro is trying really hard to crowd fund what really is an amazing toy. That Unicron is a massive, expensive, incredibly detailed creation that upon sight is overwhelming and magnificent. And yes, it is expensive at $575, but there are far lesser Transformers toys (both licensed and third parties) that cost about $100 less and are a third of the size. Previously, all we had of Unicron was the Armada figure. I’ve seen it in person. It’s not good.
If you ask me, Hasbro didn’t even get the opportunity to fail here before Zeta swooped in, laughing and said “Here’s a cheaper, incomplete, smaller option that costs less than the real-deal. Buy it.” This happened before Hasbro was even done crowdfunding. The campaign is open for another three weeks!
Look at it like this– imagine if you told you family and neighbors that you were about to add on to your house. You’re all excited, you make up the blueprints, and picture out your building materials and paint pallets. Before you even have time for construction to begin, your cocky neighbor across the street who has it out for you for no reason because he wants to impress your wife or something, shows up with an inflatable house. He blows it up, sticks it in his yard, buys a bunch of hamburgers to grill and cold beer to share, and throws a party before you can even put fresh D Batteries in your boom box. Now, you’re cold and alone with only your paint and wood. Your cocky neighbor declares victory in a contest you didn’t even know you were competing in. But your paint and wood were nicer!
You didn’t even have the opportunity to fail. That’s what happened here between Hasbro and Zeta Toys.
Here at Toy Wizards, we really do support and endorse licensed products. We love and respect Hasbro as a brand and consider them a friend of the site. That said, fair and neutral reporting means that when we see a third party or bootleg product that we think is interesting, we will post a “Look, this exists” style article. Hence why we will do toy reviews of 3rd party or bootleg products sometimes– because their physical build and paint quality is worth examining. Curiosity makes us look. Hasbro is smart by shutting down the Zeta project. They deserve the chance for this amazing, intricate, and beautiful Unicron figure to come to life before someone else builds the compact version and steals their customer base right out from under them.
So, what will the take away be? Clearly Hasbro won’t shrink their Unicron. It won’t become cheaper. The show will go on as scheduled. But for everyone who was excited about Zeta’s piece or wanted that smaller scale and price tag…surely there is a lesson in here somewhere.