whats the deal with 3rd party companies?

Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Discussion' started by MartyMcfly160, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. MartyMcfly160

    MartyMcfly160 Well-Known Member

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    so i haven't collected transformers since the 80's and early 90's so i'm a born again newbie, so i'm going all by assumption so correct me if i'm wrong but these 3rd party companies are not licensed at all right? and also whats the collectability of these things or are they just for kicks? i would like more info on these companies and i'm hoping you guys can help me understand the 3rd party world.
     
  2. Kuma Style

    Kuma Style I'm boney. I'm boney; Leave me aloney! TFW2005 Supporter

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    - Not licensed: That's why they're third party toys rather than first.

    - Collectability depends on the collector: I'm a big supporter of third party toys and can see why second-hand pricing on more rare ones are high because I value them. On the other hand, even though I don't agree, I can understand if someone has a lack of respect or value for them because of the IP infringement. Everyone's different and that is a completely opinion-based area.

    There's not much to the whole third party thing. They're just other companies making toys that homage Transformers characters.
     
  3. Predakign2000

    Predakign2000 Transformers Fan Since 1984

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    Highly collectable, many companies with varying degrees of quality. The leaders in this category are FansProject, TFC, iGear, MMC, Maketoys, and the company that made Hegemon (can't remember their name). Some companies make add-ons to existing figures and others produce complete figures. Just take a look at these threads on this board. You will get a good idea of what's out there. BTW, your wallet will hate you if you get bit by the 3P bug.... my wallet really hates me!!!
     
  4. AnAutobot1985

    AnAutobot1985 Well-Known Member

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    Unlicensed but HIGHLY collectible. They're running circles around Hasbro and leaving their heads spinning realizing what money they're losing in the adult collector's market.

    Some of my most prized TF's are made by 3rd parties. Check out Hegemon for one. Love him, he's my definitive Megatron! Sold my Takara United Megatron after purchasing Hegemon.
     
  5. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    They are entirely unlicensed product, existing in the range of legally grey to straight-up illegal in the realm of intellectual property laws.

    While small outfits existed in the past to produce small accessory kits and such (Wheeljackslab.com for reproduction pieces, Unicron.com with their occasional accessory kit, other independant outfits releasing resin kits and such), the "3rd Party" movement really started to hit full swing when Fansproject hit the scene with their City Commander release.

    Ever since then, more and more enterprising fans have come out of the woodwork, armed with some industrial know-how, to get their dream Transformers products produced professionally, and sell their wares.

    For the most part, they operate outside of Hasbro/Takara's comfort zone, producing accessory kits or figures that Has/Tak traditionally stayed away from due to various market concerns. And while Hasbro has overtly condemned the practice verbally, they've taken no overt action against the practice, so the industry has largely been allowed to continue.

    However, there have been the occasional instances where the 3rd Party outfits press their luck too far, and Hasbro's put pressure on various online stores so that they can't sell those products (usually ones that are direct knock-offs of official toolings, or based on extremely well-known characters). But since most of these groups operate out of Asia, where IP laws are laxer, Hasbro doesn't seem to be able to attack these groups directly. Just stem the flow of potentially "dangerous" products.
     
  6. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Don't fool yourself.
     
  7. MartyMcfly160

    MartyMcfly160 Well-Known Member

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    damn so i mean now i understand why they would be sought after more lol its like living life on the edge with a rebel rebellion lmao but yeah i get it now, i always see the add on kits which looks freaking awesome and another one would be the enrgon cubes which also kick ass.

    how about them custom heads i see, do you like have to take your figure apart to install the 3rd party ones? or do they just pop on and off into a ball joint?
     
  8. MartyMcfly160

    MartyMcfly160 Well-Known Member

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    i dont know why but it posted that same post twice, sorry bout that wish we had a delete button like on other forums
     
  9. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Usually (but not always), 3rd Party add-ons are designed with ease of use in mind. If a new part is intended to replace an existing piece on the figure, then it's usually something that can either snap on and off, or be unscrewed easily.

    So yes, most replacement heads you see are for figures who can have their own heads removed easily, either by snapping it off a balljoint, or unscrewing it and replacing it.

    Heads that are pinned/riveted in largely go untouched by these developers, because the average consumer doesn't have the skills/tools to deal with them.



    Really, the appeal of most 3rd Party product is that these designers/developers go places where Hasbro/Takara have generally overlooked. Combiners or comic-only/obscure characters, or in some cases large-scale ones like ships and cities and such are deemed "fair game" because HasTak have passed on them due to being hamstringed by the mass-retail marketing system. They're actually quite limited in what they can produce to the retailers' satisfaction, but if they can kowtow to those lines, then there's magnitudes more money to be made in the process.

    Due to the smaller demographic of the adult collectors market, 3rd Party products are produced in much smaller numbers than official product. Combine that with the fact that they tend to represent otherwise popular characters that Hasbro can't/won't revisit themselves, and you have the makings of a highly collectible product - if the 3rd Party product is up to snuff.

    Very few 3rd Party groups truly have the design experience of Hasbro/Takara at their disposal, so you'll find that they're also subject to many pitfalls. Design flaws and quality issues abound in newer start-ups, so it's always a bit of a gamble whether this new figure of a highly desire character will be a good toy, or a dud.

    Fansproject has easily earned the most goodwill of all the 3rd Party companies to date. They've been in this business the longest, and have had hit after hit of ambitious products. But even then, you'll find that their product often lacks a certain elegance of HasTak's products at their high points. But they're very close.

    Relative newcomer Maketoys, I feel, is the closest runner-up to take top 3rd Party honours, I think better capturing the look and aesthetic of modern Transformers figures, but they have a tendency to over-complicate their designs and make things more awkward than they should. Actual product quality is excellent, right there on top with Fansproject.

    Third place, IMO, is a tossup between TFClub and Mastermind Collectibles. Both have a history of good design work, and generally good quality product, but there's an engineering/learning curve that neither have quite mastered, and such, their product is frequently subject to design flaws or oversights, sometimes crippling their product in the initial stages. Still, both have been good so far at correcting their mistakes and providing good support to their consumers, so you're not left high-and-dry if you buy a dud. Both are learning and growing at tremendous rates, so they've got potential to close the gap with the top tiers in their business.

    Then you've got a seemingly endless stream of smaller outfits of varying quality, mostly dabbling in small accessory kits as opposed to full figures.
     
  10. noodles2go

    noodles2go Well-Known Member

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    I got bit by the 3rd party bug... After seeing and hearing such good things about them, and finally buying one myself, I realized I'm willing to pay more for quality 3rd party figures than I would hasbro figures. However they are still only supplemental and only fill in the gaps that Hasbro never will, be it quality & size (tfc herc) or originality (steel core). Also, the comparatively smaller series makes them economically affordable for an adult collector.
     
  11. MartyMcfly160

    MartyMcfly160 Well-Known Member

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    damn you guys are good lol, i've learned a lot in this short time lol good stuff.

    does anyone know much about world smallest transformers? and how far up there are they with QC and products?

    that was the first company i started to notice but don't know much about them
     
  12. AnAutobot1985

    AnAutobot1985 Well-Known Member

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    How do you mean? Why else would they be so pissed and try banning them at things like Botcon? 3rd parties are making bank off their products for such small companies and yes, the industry is thriving. Why else would we be getting so many MPs like Soundwave especially to stomp out that 3rd party one we had in the works? And an encore Sixshot after details surfacing about Hexatron coming. They are most certainly trying to combat this issue.
     
  13. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    The original and "true" World's Smallest Transformers was an official gashapon (blind-packed) toyline produced by Takara.

    After that short foray ended though, we've had JustIToys and Heero's Toymaker lay claim on the concept for themselves. JustIToys produces entirely original product, of decent, but not spectacular quality. Their output is rather sporadic, and often incredibly slow (if they announce/tease a product, don't expect to see it in stores until after a year, or even more. If it even comes out at all). Thus far, they've produced the Dinobots (in various colours), Shockwave, Astrotrain, and Sixshot. A little larger and more complex that the official WST line. Often closer replicating the original G1 toys, just at a much smaller scale.

    Heero's Toymaker produces high-quality knock-offs of the official WST figures, taking the original toys and producing them in colours not seen on the original releases, or sometimes making minor mold modifications to make them into different characters.


    It's highly doubtful it's about the money. It's incredibly petty and unprofessional to throw a hissy fit over people earning money that you're not trying to earn yourself. There's no competition there. Hasbro makes its money selling toys to kids. The adult collector demographic is just a periphery bonus at best. 3rd Parties market directly to the adult collectors. There's overlap, but no correlation. Most people who buy 3rd Party products still buy Hasbro products too.

    The clearest answer, rather, is in liability. If Hasbro lets the 3rd Party companies within the halls of their official trade show, then that opens the floodgates to all manner of legal issues. If they let them within their doors, then that's implicitly saying that Hasbro endorses their product. Which they legally, morally, cannot do. If, say, a parent unwittingly buys a 3rd Party product at the show for their child, and the child is injured by the toy, then it's Hasbro that likely shoulders the blame and bad publicity, because it's their brand name all over the place, and they're the ones that allowed the product to be sold on their premises. Beyond that, condoning the 3rd Party industry sends a bad signal to their real competitors. If they say "we approve of outside parties using our brand and images to make profit without our tacit permission", then it's open season. There's nothing stopping Mattel or Bandai or whomever to start marketing "Shapemorphers" robot toys featuring the battles of Superior 1 and his heroic Robomobiles versus the villain Ultravolt and his evil Destructiborgs.

    So quite frankly, their position is clear in that they can have absolutely zero official affiliation with 3rd Party outfits. The simple act of letting them in their house is tactical suicide from a corporate standpoint.
     
  14. SurlyJ

    SurlyJ Well-Known Member

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    I just got my first 3rd party figure - MMC Knight Morpher Cyclops.

    Consider myself officially bitten. I'm like the OP, just got back into collecting recently TF for the first time since I was a kid. I'm highly intrigued by 3rd parties and have zero qualms about their legaility. However I would like to see more of them make their own original figures. I'm not one who thinks that a TF has to be a character from the show or the comic for me to like it or want the toy. Yes, it helps with nostalgia, but if some 3rd party wants to put their skills in design and engineering to use making a unique character, I'm all for it. Would love to see some badass robot that transforms into a guitar or some shit.

    It is dangerous though... I just ordered Steel Core, have Assaulted and Defender on preorder. Am jumping on board with project Uranos, desperately want Hercules and/or Giant, must have Hegemon... Igear stuff is really the only ones I'm not too keen on, even though it looks good, they are too similar to what I can get from Hasbro.

    The price is crazy tho, but part of the appeal is having something limited and that you can't just walk into one of a thousand department stores and purchase. Maybe as the companies get more popular the prices will go down some.
     
  15. Astronut

    Astronut Well-Known Member

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    I believe it's heerotoysmaker? Could be wrong, but I've always read it like that.

    For the most part, 3rd party transformers have filled in the gaps left by has/tak in classics collections. Like fansproject's Defender (Springer) and City Commander (proper ultra Magnus with trailer), Perfect Effect's scouting force x (reflector) and whatever they called their frenzy and rumble, TFC's Hercules and Maketoys's Giant (Devastator), Igear's mini warriors (minibots) and specialist duo (ironhide and ratchet) and so on and so forth.

    Lately we've seen some companies deviate from that course though, like Fansproject with Steel Core (original character, not based on a transformer) and Masterming creations and their Knight Morpher line, which is based on the Hearts of Steel comics, not the G1 cartoon or comics.

    And then there are the upgrade companies that makes heads, weapons and so on to enhance your existing official toys.

    And in the bottom of the barrel you have KO guys who just makes new molds out of existing toys and repaints them, or sells them as the real thing on ebay.

    ^abriged because I'm writing this on a phone and got lazy :) 
     
  16. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    I'm of the same mind. I just like cool transforming robots. I've bought $200 Macross or Chogokin toys without knowing a thing about the show they belong to.

    But of course, most people aren't in the financial position where they can be so free with their money that way, so they're more discerning. Ultimately, 3rd Party groups will keep swinging back to the G1 gravy train because that's where the biggest potential in customers is. People who like Beast Wars, or Beast Machines, or Animated, whatever, are a much smaller subset of that.

    So while these guys might want to produce a new Beast Machines figure, or an Animated one, or a Transtech one, or something comletely original, ultimately, if they feel they wouldn't be able to get their money back on the venture, then they won't do it. Toy production is expensive.
     
  17. MartyMcfly160

    MartyMcfly160 Well-Known Member

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    i feel the same about cool robot toys with out knowing lol i'm he same with gundam but wouldl ike to learn about them before buying them lol

    but the 3rd party stuff looks good just blew my mind how they are the same robots just different name which makes it feel all so wrong lol
     
  18. Peaugh

    Peaugh Hi.

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    I'd add Dr. Wu to the list as well. His add-ons and accessories are generally top notch, and his new weapons additions are amazing.
     
  19. Sidecutter

    Sidecutter Evil Former Dealer Scum TFW2005 Supporter

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    Third party has definitely come a long way, and I can outright point to their work as a big factor in the growth of my shop since last year. There are definitely products being released that are on par with, or in some cases better than, the official products from Takara and Hasbro. Mix that quality and ambition with designs that HasTak will never produce (Hearts of Steel, for instance), and you get some amazing things.
     
  20. Compewtrawn

    Compewtrawn Well-Known Member

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    This begs the question...who are the second party companies? :)