First, I guess it’s encumbent upon me to get my policy regarding Knock-Offs out of the way. I am ok with any KO that isn’t actively competing with any first party, primary market material. If I am able to get my hands on an honest-to-goodness official re-issue of a toy, I will buy that first. I truly believe in the power of money. Takara and Hasbro are businesses, they will continue making re-issues until people stop buying re-issues. To this end, in my G1 collection, that grumpy old curmudgeon Kup is the Japanese 2005 TF Collection Re-issue, the last year he was re-issued. Conversely, the “as hefty as he is dumb” Sludge in my collection is a knock-off. The reason for this is two-fold.
First, I have no regard for the secondary market. After too many purchases represented as “Mint” condition arriving in far, far less than mint condition, I will only ever purchase original G1 and G2 toys from other collectors, people who understand what “mint” actually means. Thus my secondary market is severely limited.
Second, neither Hasbro nor Takara has sought fit to re-issue any of the original Dinobots. This is completely their prerogative, however with no G1 Dinobots on the primary market, I am not in any way shorting Hasbro or Takara any money with my KO Sludge. Were they to ever do a reissue, you can be sure that would then take the KO’s place on my shelf, for sure.
But! Haha! There are Mint In Sealed Box sellers, you say! Surely, a Mint In Sealed Box toy meets with your snooty expectations on quality. I respond to that with the fact that MISB toys are meant for MISB collectors and are priced accordingly. Take, for instance, one of today’s Headmasters; the Japanese-exclusive Toraizer. Here he is in all his sealed, wonderfully mint condition:
That image is from a current sale, you can go out and buy an original, never-been-touched Toraizer if you would like. It will only cost you $400. I have created an image to give you an idea of what you get for your $400 (plus $10 shipping).
Oh, how I love me some Masters, be they Headmasters, Targetmasters, or Powermasters (also Micromasters, but you can keep your Actionmasters, thank you very much). Given the prices for these guys on the secondary market, however, you can imagine why I never dreamed owning them would be a thing in my lifetime.
Sometime last year, in what has to be one of the oddest, most surprising, and wonderful choices in counterfeit toy history, someone decided to take a bunch of these hyper-rare headmasters and make a set. Then, they compounded the awesome by using all-new packaging art. Rarely am I impressed by packaging, it usually is just an impediment between me and my toy. (“Mine! *rip*shred*tear*”) The fact that this isn’t even an official release just blows my mind.
Computer rendered G1-style boxart of all ten Headmasters on the front and a classic Battle-In-Space tableau adorning the back? It doesn’t stop there. Opening the flap reveals a technical readout image displaying Spike from the set but also listed are Stylor, Arcana, Duros, and the rest of the Headmasters not included.
I do find it very interesting that even though this set is primarily Japanese, it uses the American name of “Spike” — rather than the Japanese name of Cerebros or Fortress — as well as the American names for the Headmasters listed on the inside flap. As much as I can say that I do not feel bad buying KOs of these rare Headmasters, I can say that those still wishing to find originals will need to be very, very wary. Just examining the one of these that I already owned — Zarak with my G1 Scorponok — they look virtually identical until you get close enough to detect the flaws in small paint apps, etc.
Luckily there are also several forums and fans that have created recognition guides to help purchasers make sure they are getting the real deal.
First up we have Spike and Gran. In America, Spike was the head of Cerebros who was in turn the head of the colossal Fortress Maximus. In Japan, the toy was identified as Cerebros, the head of Fortress, who was then the head of Fortress Maximus. In Super God Masterforce, a repaint of Fortress Maximus was released as Grand Maximus. The cartoon going so far as to say Grand was Fortress’ younger brother. Grand Maximus’ head became Grand, and Grand’s head became Gran.
Now, this is an odd one to explain. In American, we had Lord Zarak, the head of Scorponok. In Japan, they had Scorponok, the head of MegaZarak. When MegaZarak was destroyed, Scorponok created BlackZarak and gave himself a new paintjob.
That takes care of the American releases and their Japanese repaints. Up next we have the real gems of this set. In 1987 Japan released six heads that had no corresponding bodies. The Headmaster Warriors were young Cybertronians that were attempting to earn their Transtectors (the large bodies that came to life when a Headmaster became its head). They were sometimes known as the Headmaster Teens, and at least three of them have the some of the greatest names ever officially applied to actual Transformers.
Loafer. As the Headmaster Warriors never received tech specs or bios, sadly we’ll probably never know what he did to earn that name.
Don’t let anyone try to tell you his name is somehow “Karku”. Kirk. This next guy’s name is Kirk. Who names a Transformer Kirk? Oh, yeah, the Japanese, ’cause they’re awesome.
This is another one that falls prey to mis-transliteration. Even the packaging included with this set uses “Lodoni”, which seems like a perfectly okay, somewhat Italian looking name until you realize it’s not pronounced “Low-donny”, it would be “Lahd-knee”, change that pesky “L” to an “R” and what do you have? Rodney the Transformer.
This next one also falls prey to mistransliteration, but quite legitimately. Commonly either Trizer or Trizor is used (the packaging for the KO set uses “Trizer”), but so far the only justification I have seen provided for a name is TFWiki’s use of Toraizer with the notation:
“Tora” is the Japanese word for “tiger”.
Good enough reason for me.
At least this one is easy. No naming controversy that I am aware of. Lione.
Lione is neck and neck (no Headmaster related pun intended there) with Shuffler for my favourites from this set. There are just too few elephants in Transformers.
Up next: Tomorrow! A surprise post featuring the Headmaster Warrior that shouldn’t exist anywhere but on paper! Who could it be?