Oh, China...

Land Of A Thousand Knockoffs

Chinese TFs are an interesting problem. Originally, they simply had the same stuff the rest of the world had (just with a clumsy sticker thrown over the pkg). Later on, it is told, China simply started producing their own 'lisenced' TFs. The problem here is that, although they were properly-stamped toys, they were not actually authorized to produce them. China has had a very long history of ignoring copyright/patent law in all business/industry, as well as rights of intellectual property. This wasn't widely known for a number of years. In fact, only up until recently have they been taken to task over it (I can reference, among other things, the pertinent Newsweek articles for those who wish it)...

I am not referring to knockoffs here, although they certainly produced plenty of those. (See: Knockoffs for the Chinese knockoffs, and the Korean page for the Korean ones.) I am saying that actual Transformers were produced (well, toward the end of the line they were made over there anyways) and sold in their markets, without anyone the wiser. Fracus first came across this phenomenon back in 1994 (you can read about his information in an article here.) The toys involved, for all intents and purposes, are not all that different from any other TFs. The giveaways are the modern-printed packages, and of-course, some minor changes on the toys themselves (on the stickers, in several cases...for more on packaging issues, go here!).

As I said, an interesting problem. Take this with a grain of salt, as always. :-) I'll document the more interesting variants in this section (and in the various listings on the Jap/Euro pages where appropriate). I have noticed that the Dutch seem to get a lot of pollution...they recieved Mexican TFs, and a gaggle of the evil Chinese TFs. For some reason, they seem to be a dumping grounds. ;-)

The most fun of all? China is currently 'authorized' to produce all our TFs nowadays anyways, thanks to our wonderful worldwide open markets. :-) I fully expect that China will be continuing to do so for the forseeable future. And things being what they are, I don't imagine that these days, if they run off more for themselves, we'd be able to tell at all...(except for God Neptune, of course). First we have legitimate TFs...then 90's 'naughty' TFs...now we have 2006/2007 'naughty' TFs. :-) The fun keeps coming.

One final note: Since 1997, Hong Kong has been a part of China (until that point, it was a protectorate of Britain, as was Macau). So when we talk about HK TFs, we mean Chinese TFs, too. ;-) Lovely how it all ties together, eh?

To wrap up:

1) Legitimate TFs with Chinese 'sticker' on them. (Properly liscenced from Hasbro/Takara.)

2) 'Naughty' (Supposedly) properly-stamped TFs with stickers, painted details changes, etc. (Hasbro/Takara lisence not filed.)

3) 'Naughty' TFs made to look like the real thing, but with subtle spelling/manufacturing errors. (Shame on them.)

4) Obviously fake TFs (KOs, bootlegs, wrong colors, size, pkg, no stamping, etc.) (What we don't mind them making.)

Soundwave. To quote Himawari: "Most HK versions were similar to the euro boxes in having 4 languages on them with a small "Hong Kong" sticker in the corner. Most people have tried taking that sticker off and sell them as a Euro Soundwave, but the only problem with that is the cassette is different. So if a person takes off the sticker, you could still tell it comes from HK. When someones says HK cassettes, immediatly I am reminded of painted detail. Painted versions come from HK. Thanks."-Himawari

(Editor's Note: Hong Kong belongs to China now. :-) It is, and historically has been, the perfect 'outlet' for reasons many people probably already understand... (Pic 2 | Pic 3)

Maz adds: Large tech specs, no text on top left corner of box front, multilingual...I have seen these available in HK and China before, especially Soundwave (so it's a good idea to keep an eye out for sticker residue in the corner. :-)" (Pic)

Cassettes: turns out that, though these TFs came in 'American packaging' (albeit with a sticker slapped over the label), they actually originated as an under the table run in HK/China. Units that don't exist in the US (such as painted-details Steeljaw and Frenzy) originated in this market (see Soundwave and painted-details Buzzsaw, above). More...

Dinobots: In the 90's, they are the same molds as the Euro classic Dinobots which came after the Macau mold and before the G2 mold. The Euro classic Dinobots were available in 1990 and then later in 92 as a mail order for Japan but in regular US style boxes. In 2006/2007, (in-process).

Ironhide and Inferno: Pkg style looks eerily similar, but check out that little sticker in the corner. :-) That's the givaway. For some reason, apparently they came in cases; a single TF would be all the pieces in a case (comparison of USA vs HK box here. Case-pics are here: (Pic 1 | Pic 2 | Pic 3)

Mirage, Wheeljack, Sunstreaker: A 06/07 release. Subtle package/molding clues give them away. Mirage came in red, blue, black, and clear versions.

The Clones, and Punch/Counterpunch. Instead of their specialized (their secret mode) rubsigns, they got faction stickers. The rest seems to have remained unchanged. Same for PCP; no secret rubs, just plain stickers. So much for his disguise...

Minibots: Started out legitimately enough. Later ones have turned up, similar to the Clones, that have stickers, altered stampings, and no rubsigns to speak of (such as Cliffjumper). (Pic) The easiest explanation is that they were cranked out, 'later on' (ie, 90's). Like Ironhide, Beachcomber was found in caselots (the same minibot packed in one case). Interestingly, Beachcomber may have seen an even more recent run...and he's got some errors on him. :-) Dunno how they slipped by AFA (ok, yes I do, they don't care, I imagine). (More on Beachcomber in-process). The other minibots have recently been redone, to include Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, Warpath, Powerglide, and Cosmos. In many aspects, though they attempt to duplicate vintage G1, there are small color and cardback errors to tell them apart.


Pretender Monsters: To illustrate again the American packaging, and the Shinese sticker that got slapped on it for the local market. (Remember, Macau is also a colony located near China.) :-)

Liokaiser: Their manufacturer-stampings on their sets are of the later-version used on the remolded Rescueforce members, oddly enough. So basically you go from Japanese version, to Chinese version, to 2 versions of Rescueforce. More...

Landcross: In addition to a later copystamp, the stickers and paintapps were altered. The Chinese version of the mold was later used for the reissue.

Japanese vs Chinese Box

NOTE: The Netherlands (and the UK in-general) seems to have been a dumping grounds for both Mexican and Chinese TFs. We're not sure why. But pieces found in Hong Kong, etc show up in NL. :-)

For a listing of things released in China long after they should have been: See Fracus' List!.)

(See Also: Lunchtime Specials)

(See Also: Knockoffs)