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> How to ID the chinese KO Seaspray
Fighbird
post 10 October 2009, 11:09
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Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1988!


Martin Lund
Aalborg, Denmark

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I've never been a fan of of bootlegs - as a matter of fact, I do my best to avoid them at all costs and educate myself so I can be at the forefront of spotting bootlegs (or KO's, whichever term one prefers) and stay clear of them.

However, being the variant nut that I am, and having a special soft spot for the G1 toy Seaspray - as he was my first TF way back in 1986 - I have set about obtaining every package variation I can find of the G1 release. That, coupled with the fact that I felt that I needed more information in spotting the recent chinese bootleg version (not to be confused with the genuine chinese production of the early 1990s), somewhat reluctantly made me deliberately seek out and pick up one of said recent bootlegs.

Having had some time now to look at and decipher some of the differences, I think I have spotted even more than are immediately apparent to the naked eye - something I want others to know as well, so they may be in a position to more easily identify the fake.

The following is a shot of the 3 main G1 Seaspray toys that can be found on eBay and elsewhere these days: From left to right we have a genuine US G1 Seaspray, chinese 1990s Seaspray and lastly the recent chinese bootleg.



This picture alone should clearly be enough to point out how different the bootleg is to any of the official products:

* The hanger hole is centered on the bootleg
* The colors are much darker on the artwork
* The sunburst edge does not fade correct
* The grey gridlines are much too bright

These are common traits found on pretty much all bootleg Transformers, and as such is a great way of telling them apart. But the really interesting discrepancies only come out once we take an even closer look:

* The font used for the writing is not perfect - it's close to the original, but has some proportion issues

* The "Transformers from robot to hovercraft and back!" copy is smaller on the bootleg (notice the space around the text)

* The gridline spacing is off - notice how the edge of the above-mentioned copy lines up with the base of the "R" of the big Transformers logo on the genuines while it stops in the "O" on the bootleg, as well as ending under the "S" on the right side of the card, when it sould end a bit after

* Barely noticable (unless you click on the image to zoom in) is he assortment number. Between the vintage US and the 90s chinese there are already some differences ("5901/5710 ASST." on the vintage and "5901/5711 Asst. on the 90s version, which indicates that the chinese version is based on a later US assortment release), but which is even more mangled on the bootleg with being "590175711 Asst." - clearly putting a "7" in place of the "/", which you get when you forget to hold shift down on the keyboard...

* Not totally visible in my shots is also the fact that the bubble itself is profile cut on the bootleg - the base intended for glueing on the backer card is a rounded rectangle with a small rounded top to accomodate the propellors, while the vintage ones are a trapezoid, to keep the left and right sides in straight lines.



Enough with the front, let's move on to the back:



Again, the most obvious tell is to be found here again (again, left to right, vintage US, 1990s Chinese, bootleg chinese):

* Hanger hole is centered, while the original is off-center (but curiously the print on the back does allow the hole to be placed in either position without damaging any of the art)

Notice how the copyright string on the middle specimen is shorter than the others - a typical tell on the chinese releases of the 1990s.

Less obvious indicators on the bootleg include:

* Much more vibrant colors in the print, especially on tech spec meter, where the maroon zig-zag stripes are almost twice as wide, and don't hide the blue read-out as well as the others

* The zig-zag pattern is actually applied upside down when examined closer

* The sunburst on the tech specs image is much too yellow and does not fade into orange that much

* The font used is still off model, almost seeming much too small in the tech specs profile copy

* Very noticable, but not something I've seen mentioned elsewhere, is how the light blue color in the instruction images has been darkened to be the same nuance as the dark blue, and the yellow being much more orange in hue

* The "A" in Seaspray's name on the tech specs is too short at the bottom - not too visible on my photos, but still strange

* The whole back of the card has the same glossy finish to it as the front, while the vintage toys has a regular cardboard finish

Now, this is all good and fine, but how do you tell the loose toy apart from the genuine article?



A curious result of the chinese factories to start making G1 toys again in the 1990s was that both the molds used were starting to wear out a bit, while they also didn't quite were able to match the plastic hues of the 1980s - which could be both a batch-to-batch mix ratio that was off, or a change of plastics in general due to change in laws or productions. Now, on the 1990s release, the colors are already a bit more pale and dull on the blues and yellows, while the white chest part is more milky - and all the parts in general are a bit less sharp in the detailing. The rub mark and the sticker detail is practically the same, though.

On the bootleg, the colors are even more faded as compared to the 1990s release: The yellow is slightly paler, almost transparent in nature, the blues are darker with a more grey-ish quality, and the white is murkier with a touch of yellow. And all the mold detailing is even more vague, with evidence of either mold degredation (assuming the bootleggers are using the vintage mold somehow) or backwards engineered molds based off a production toy (more likely). And finally, the toy does not sport any stickers nor rub mark.

Still, determining plastic hues can be very difficult when presented only with the toy itself and no reference material, and if someone crafty enough puts some reproduction stickers and rub mark on a bootleg like that, it gets virtually indistinguishable from a genuine toy.

This is where the copyright stamp comes into play. Being packaged as he is, Seaspray thankfully has easy access to his copyright stamp under his feet, which is decidedly different on the bootleg (images not imbedded, as they are probably even more boring than the above ones to most):

* First US Hasbro release
* Initial Euro MB release
* Later Euro Hasbro release
* 1990s chinese release
* 2000s chinese bootleg

Notice the progression: Going from "© TAKARA CO., LTD. 1984 JAPAN" to a blocked version with a completely new stamping - "© HASBRO 1984 © TAKARA CO., LTD. 1984 JAPAN" - to a similar one with "Japan" blocked out, to one where all mention of Takara has been blocked out (1990s chinese release).

And then the bootleg introduces a new step in keeping the double blocking found on the chinese release, removing the Hasbro line, and printing it's own statement on the 2nd block with "© 1984 HASBRO. INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVEO MADE IN JAPAN". Not only is the statement spelled wrong (with an "O" instead of a "D" in what should have read "RESERVED") but it falsely states that it is made in Japan - and even dares mention Hasbro's name. This type of stamp is unique to the bootleg, and should as such be used whenever there is doubt about the toy's real origin.

Whether the stamp is the same on other bootlegs is yet to be documented, so I won't even begin to guess. But I still want to say to the critical G1 collector: Buyer beware!


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BigPete
post 10 October 2009, 11:29
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Lövestad, Sweden

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Good job on spotting all that Martin smile.gif Thankfully, KOs aren't good enough (yet) to look exactly like originals, but an untrained eye might miss all the little telltale signs. Guides like these are a great way to help collectors not get fooled. You should post this on other boards as well smile.gif


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Groundsplitter
post 10 October 2009, 13:16
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Lars Eriksson
Knivsta, Sweden

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QUOTE(Fighbird @ 10 October 2009, 12:09) *
* Barely noticable (unless you click on the image to zoom in) is he assortment number. Between the vintage US and the 90s chinese there are already some differences ("5901/5710 ASST." on the vintage and "5901/5711 Asst. on the 90s version, which indicates that the chinese version is based on a later US assortment release)
It's interesting to note that the 1990's Chinese issue still comes with the 1985 box art on the back, even though the assortment number corresponds to the 1986 issue. I can't check it, but I assume that the western version came with the 1986 box art on the back.
QUOTE
, but which is even more mangled on the bootleg with being "590175711 Asst." - clearly putting a "7" in place of the "/", which you get when you forget to hold shift down on the keyboard...
Or perhaps when you use Optical Character Recognition software to read the information on the card, ...or simply misread the number, not understanding what it stands for.


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Fighbird
post 11 October 2009, 08:46
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Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1988!


Martin Lund
Aalborg, Denmark

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Both are valid points - who knows how the bootleggers get the copy into their design software? An OCR system and/or bad reading/typing skills would also account for some of the other documented errors on other bootlegs ("Dinobot Bommander" on the Grimlock box comes to mind).

Regarding the artwork on the back, I would personally assume that it would be the 1985 scene even for the 1986 - I know for a fact that the 1984 scene was used even on the toys reissued the following years - like Prime and Prowl etc. in their pre- (1984) as well as post-rub versions (1985) - retained the 1984 scene, so I doubt that they would go to the trouble and replace the artwork on others. But I could be wrong, as I don't own a US 1986 release.

(A curiosity in that regard is that the greek release of Seaspray includes the Glow-in-the-dark 1986 Movie Poster artwork on his back - but then again, the whole card design is generally different in so many areas to the US original.)

Oh, and thanks for the kind words, Pete - I've publicized this elsewhere as well in the spirit of shared knowledge. smile.gif
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SureShot
post 3 November 2009, 10:17
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Great "guide" - also the detailing on the bootleg doesn't look so sharp.


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soundwave87
post 19 September 2014, 18:49
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super post martin, I'm looking on some vintage seasprays on ebay and this is a really good comparision.
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Fighbird
post 25 September 2014, 10:51
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Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1988!


Martin Lund
Aalborg, Denmark

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Thanks! Glad to hear that my old writings can be used for something! smile.gif

Oh, and welcome aboard here! biggrin.gif
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Maz
post 19 October 2014, 21:32
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Fantastic resource, Martin. Very well presented and researched, the community should thank you!

All the best
Maz


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Fighbird
post 28 October 2014, 12:01
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Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1988!


Martin Lund
Aalborg, Denmark

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Aw shucks, it was just something I whipped together one afternoon... 5 years ago?!? Dang, time flies...
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