You see, it would be easy (and no fun at all) if all we did was look at Pre-TF cassettes. :-) So we're going to take a look at all of them; Pre-TF, fake cassettes, TF cassettes...and maybe answer a few questions along the way. :-)
If you look at the Autobot and especially the Decepticon cassette sections, you'll note that there are a few holes...mostly, we're looking at trying to find ways to tell real cassettes from fake ones. Not an easy task. :-) But we're gonna tackle it here.
So let's get started! First we'll highlight a section on each type of cassette, then later we'll do a comparison of cassette weapons.
In Pre-TFs, cassettes didn't always come stamped with a Takara copystamp. It was added later, however. There were three basic cassettes release in Pre-TFs: Condor, Jaguar, and the robot. These were first released in colors that we recognise; then later recolored and re-released. In-addition, the original color version was also released in giftset format:
If you look at the Autobot and especially the Decepticon cassette sections, you'll see what a mess the whole cassettes thing became as time went on (read there for details). The original 3 pre-tf molds were supplmented by 4 Autobot cassettes (Rewind/Eject, identical but differently colored robots, Steeljaw the lion, and Ramhorn the rhino), and 3 more Decepticon cassettes (Slugfest and Overkill the dinos, and Ratbat, a...bat). Later still, the USA line got combiner cassettes; Slamdance (Autobots Grandslam and Raindance) and Squalkbox (Decepticons Beastbox and squalktalk). Later still, Japan recieved some exclusive cassette combiners of their own! C121 and c122, otherwise known as Gurafi and Noizu (form Decibel) and c-123, and c 124 Dairu and Zauru (form Legout).
Ahh, now *here's* a doozy. :-) One thing you do not want to do is confuse fake cassettes with Chinese (or as they're more colloquielly known, Hong Kong/HK) tapes. There's an entire page dealing with Chinese/HK tape variants. This page deals with the Pre-TF and 'obvious fakes' versions of these cassettes. :-)
The first three tapes (Frenzy, Laserbeak, Ravage) saw several releases as knockoffs. From Micro Change (not to be confused with the real Micro hange; these packages have english on them) to Transistor Robots, the knockoffs of these molds abound. Telling the fake figures apart is getting easier; however, telling the weapons apart has become a bit of a mystery. :-) And sadly, one that may never be solved. But we're sure gonna try...
Telling Fake Laserbeak: The fake Laserbeak (version 1, that looks real) has poorer sticker, and a worse red paint job (darker, thinner) than the real TF tape. Then there's a later knockoff blue version, again easily told by color, poor stickers, grey neck, imperfect head-mold, etc. In-addition, there is no Takara Japan stamping on the bird's upper legs (top side) or underneath the wings (which covers early and late-release bird tapes).
Telling Fake Robot Tapes: Frenzy's head is colored wrong. :-) No, seriously. Plus, there's no small 'Takara Japan' stamp on the back-bottom side of the tape. Heck, you can have two versions of a ko red/white tape that people like to think of as Rumble. :-)
Telling Fake Ravages: The different versions of Ravage, however, are tricky. One version of the mold is easily told apart by the butt-molding (and overall softness of the mold). However, there are two or three versions of fake Ravage that actually copy the mold precisely. :-) Luckily, one is colored brown. The other one? Fools people all the time. The reason is thus: most early and mid-release Ravage tapes did *not* have a copyright stamping. This means sticker versions, and first-release rubsign versions are stampless (later-release rubsign versions finally put a stamping on the tail). However, do not fret: if you read the Decepticon tapes section, you'll know that you can tell most real from fake Ravages by not only the mold, but in the case of the good fakes, the eyeballs (real ones all have the same size gold eyeball; fakes have either a grey eye, a tiny gold one, or no eye at all), the sticker placement, and the color. More...
So in the end, we can sort out fake cassettes...but at the moment, we still can't completely sort out the accs. :-) We're working on it,hough.
To answer your question of the difference between the cassette weapons I have to explain a few things in general. There are five and in some cases six different brands of the Micros, Jaguar and Condor cassettes.
1. Takara Microman (Vintage). Boxed.
2. Takara, Hasbro Transformers (Vintage). Boxed/carded and are the only versions with stamps.
3. Shiantai Micro cassette robot. Korean (knock-off). Boxed.
4. The brand that released the grey Condor, brown Jaguar and red/white Micros versions under the name Transistor robots (knockoff). Carded.
5. Hi-Fi robots Italian (Knockoff). They are Italian but definitely no Gig release. Carded.
6. I have seen a release of Condor by Joustra but the not of the other two. This is no knockoff because Joustra is a co-company of Takara just like Gig. Carded.
Since I have many cassette weapons and did not know there even was a difference when I started collecting, I can't tell you precisely which belong to which. But I can tell you the differences I see and know. You must know that the Microman, Transformer, and TF print versions have the same shape. But the print versions chrome is of less quality than the other two. Below I put some pics to let you understand the parts I mean.
In general you can say that the V guns are of better quality chrome and are about one mm longer than the K ones. The pegs of all K are thinner than the V ones. The V chrome and gold guns are identical.
1. The barrelgun-tip: The V gun-tip is thinner than the K version.
2. The barrel and attached rings of the V one is thinner than the K. The K has three rings and the V four rings.
3. The front tip of detail 3 is the shortest on the V.
4. The gun-tip on the wing is the largest on the V.
5. The indents on the K booster have a v-shape on top and those of the V are all straight.
Same as the Micros K the Jaguar K is also of less quality chrome.
1. The nose of the K bomb is bigger than the V.
2. The indents of the K are broader than the V.
3. The radar of the K is a bit smaller than the V.
4. The wing of the V is bigger but the wing of the K is thicker.
5. The pegs. One rule: all K have solid pegs no matter the brand.
They are also thinner than the V. but this can vary by brand. For example; the pegs of the brown Ravage are smaller than those of the Hi-Fi versions that are also smaller than the Shiantai versions which have the same size as the V. The ones with the holes are always V ones.
Same as the previous two , the K. is of less Quality chrome. All versions have holes in there pegs.
1. The K has the curved gun-tip and the V the bloated one.
2. The vents. Maybe this is the most obvious way to tell a V from a K. The V has 8 stripes and the K only 7.
3. The indents of the K are more shallow than those of the V.
4. The wing of the V is higher, but the K is thicker.
5. Is the same as 3, but the rings on the barrel are the largest on the V.
6. As you can see, the K has a thicker exterior than the V.
7. The indent of the V is narrower and a bit deeper than the K.
8. The space right of the peg is solid on the K and open on the V.
9. The indents on the booster are shallower on the K.
Well, I hope that I cleared up a few things. And I know it's an addition to your site. All other pics will be on my site. You will get an e-mail in due time about the when and where. If you have any questions, you can mail me anytime.
Just recently I bought myself a Takara Rumble. Same as the Frenzy versions it had the Takara text on the cassette sticker. A nice detail was that the underarms were blue instead of black and it had a blue head. It had arm stickers with bleu lines instead of red which the man I bought it from said were vintage. I think this is the version that comes with the Microman Cassetteman was it not that there's one on E-bay right now that has a that has a common coloured Rumble with red arm stickers. So I'm very glad that I found a new version but it still doesn't answer my question of which version came with the Cassetteman.
Best regards , Quint Gremmen 29-3-'05 Oss NL.