In the late 2000s, spurred on by the Transformers nostalgia boom invoked by the live-action film series, a new phenomenon arose.
Unlicensed products based on Transformers aimed at the adult collector market.
The very earliest examples of this kind of product were accessories and then upgrades for existing Hasbro toys, such as a trailer or armor set for Classics Ultra Magnus.
But the market quickly grew to include standalone action figures based on Transformers characters.
The number of groups producing these figures has ballooned rapidly, to the point that 2 or even 3 separate companies will be simultaneously releasing toys of the same characters.
Popular market trends have included combiners and, more recently, faux-Masterpiece figures.
The fandom’s generally recognized name for these kinds of figures is third party Transformers, although this is ultimately a misnomer for the plain reason that they are not actual Transformers products.
This terminology makes more sense in light of their history.
As the initial accessories, add-ons and upgrade kits can still somewhat be considered third party products.
And the term, once established among the fandom, was simply never adjusted when standalone figures became the main focus of such offerings.
Obviously, these should not be confused with the actual third parties who produce Transformers merchandise under license from Hasbro or Takara.
In very half-hearted attempts to dissuade the notion that they are pinching Transformers characters, third party toy manufacturers typically avoid using faction symbols.
Although sometimes including molded spaces for the buyer to apply their own, and give their figures alternative names that attempt to capture the sound and/or spirit of the trademarked originals, with varying degrees of bizarreness.
A toy intended to look like Starscream might, for example, wind up named Stellaryell.
Initially, fans would often avoid confusion by referring to these figures as not versions of the characters they were based on for example Not-Starscream.
Even though as the market has grown that terminology has been mostly abandoned since there’s liable to be multiple different Not-Starscreams.
After many years of these products, name overlaps are bound to happen; for example, different companies have figures alternatively based on Huffer and Grimlock that are both named Rager.
Even more hilariously though not really surprising, there are even knockoffs of third party toys!
Let’s see them duke out their IP conflicts in court.
Desire for those toys arises for various reasons.
Wanting a toy of a toyless character, wanting a collection with consistent scale, and desiring different visuals.
Be it show-accuracy or more unique takes on characters are among those reasons.
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