07 January 2009

Bootlegs Toys, why are they around?

Do you find bootleg toys a nuisance? With inferior quality of plastic, bad paint job (sometime they don't even paint it) and bad "copycat" design, who will buy it? But they have been around as long as anyone can remember. We cannot deny the demand for bootleg in the market. The following are my findings.



First of, the demand of Toy market can be divided into three groups. The Collectors, Children and their Parents. These three groups are what Official and unofficial toy maker had in mind when they plan for their profits.

Marketing Strategies
Believe it or not, bootleg toy makers do have market strategies. They do not chose any toy to put into production but they study the market trend for the popular ones.

Quality
If they are have to match the price and quality of the original toy to cheat innocent collector, then they will even go to the extend to put in extra effort into mimic the packaging as well.

As a toy to them is for kids to play with and throw away later, they would choose cheap materials. With the costing in mind and the pricing for distributions, they begin the production.

Design
You may think bootleg toys are a copied design but if you look closer, some of the design is a class of their own. Sometime they even came out with their own name for the bootleg figure. For the lack of action feature, they will be generous to throw in more accessories. If you want to talk about originality, the original toy makers use the same mold and repaint the figure and may give some new accessories and even renamed it as a new toy or character. So where is the originality in that? If the market can accept that, why not a bootleg figure?

Resources
It come in no surprise that bootleg making is a sizable industry. There would be a production line ranging from molding, painting, package design, packaging and logistic. They need skill workers for the job... okay maybe not the painters but other what about other areas like choosing the cheapest plastic, mold replication and package designers. Surely they need some experience workers and machine to do that?

Speculation such as a insider job of a original toy factory using the resources are not something new. Fortunately or Unfortunately, no one had verify the truth for such speculation.

Pricing and Availability
Now here is the bread and butter of why bootleg toy survive or even strive in some countries. It is about Pricing and the demand. To ignorance collectors, lower pricing is a big pull factor. While in some part of the world, some consumers never know the different between original or replicates as they have never seen a original never reach their shores.

Sometime original toy maker are not willing to venture the original toys as they believe the market is small and lack of profits. Sometime the pricing of the original toy are beyond general affordability that bootlegs becomes the ideal supplement.

As for the kids, they will never know and will not be bother to know if his toys is original. As long as the character had some resemblance of the characters he/she knows in cartoons or comic, they will gladly take it.

By the way, when we are talking about bootleg is not just boy toys like transformers but soft toys as well.

So end of the day, is bootleg toy a sin? You tell me.

12 comments :

KazeTora said...

It's not a sin. People like me who do GunPla will consider bootleg quality a major crap in the crapper especially since the plastic quality is as sad as it gets. However, there are times that we still need them for spare parts. Like for example... extra sword? I'm even thinking of buying extra beam sword especially for those that Bandai doesn't supply.

So, like it or not... they still have their usage.

Just sharing here.

Willie said...

THis is the first time i heard about bootleg toy

Dennis aka Katsuden said...

It's not a sin. I made bootleg toys part of my collection as well.

Jcee said...

I believe the main target audience of these bootleg toys are for the kids. Most kids do not take care of their toys and the toys usually end up in the garbage after a while. So it is more cost effective for parents to buy these for their kids instead of the more expensive counterpart.

I am pretty sure I had bootleg minicons when I was young too haha.

LEon said...

I totally agree that bootleg survived because the original ones are not affordable nor reachable for some. That being said, isn't it just sad for original toy maker to produce toy that many of the kids or parent could not really afford? Maybe the original toy maker already let bootleg toy maker to have that piece of the pie...

Juliana said...

I've bought bootleg toys at the begnning of my toy collecting hobby many years ago because they were much cheaper.

However they 'broke down' easily after just a few rounds of gentle play, especially transforming robot toys.

Hence I never buy bootleg toys again and would rather splurge on the originals instead :)

Jcee said...

I think the major target audience of the original toy makers is the collectors. Of course, the kids are still included in the equation, but they only contribute to a small factor. For example, lines such as the G1 and Classics are obviously catered to the collectors.

This might be far-fetched, but I see the relationship between the originals and bootlegs as a repeating cycle that relies on each other. When a kid cannot afford the original toy, they get the bootleg. When they become adults and have sufficient income, then they would want to buy back those toys they missed the opportunity of owning in their childhood. Hence toy manufacturers take this opportunity to make money on rereleases.

Ok end of my rambling haha....

cosmicbaby said...

For children (& parents) who can't afford original toys, there is a place they can bring their kids to over the weekend & they can rip open brand new original toys, play with it for a few hours, leave the toys & the mass behind. Go home happy & repeat it the following weekend... this magical place is known as Toys 'R' Us!

Little Plastic Man said...

There are actually collectors out there just collecting bootleg toys! I guess they find it funny and amusing as how bad some of the bootleg toys are and how they try to be "original" in copying...

LEon said...

@Cosmicbaby
Ya. I always find the parent often do nothing when they see the kid rampage the toys...

@LittlePlasticMan
Yes I know of such collectors too. Sometime it could be there isn't much toy to buy and they need to buy something on that day... I think it a common collector symptom.. :P

BothOriginal&BootlegCollector said...

bootleg or not its still cost you a dime

LEon said...

@bothOriginal&BootlegCollector
There is no free lunch in the world. :)

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