Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Knockoffs In A Half Shell

Last June, my fiancee and I decided to brave the crowds and go to the 12th Annual Philippine Toy Con. Now anyone who’s been to one of these conventions can tell you that these aren’t one of the most pleasant things to go to. You got to really be looking for some great deals in order to make wading through a thick crowd of people worth the effort. I’d been to a few in the past, and I had decided that I was pretty much done going to these things. But we just so happened to be in the area (no…really!) and we decided….”what the hell”, we’d never been to one together so we decided to take the plunge and be one with the crowd.

In past years, I ended up buying a lot of stuff that in the end I just regretted. I basically didn’t want to go home empty handed after going through all the hassle of being there with all those people. This time around I made the resolve not to make the same mistake. It helped that I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. But almost immediately, something caught my eye.

anybody got 30K?
Ok one thing you have to know about Manila is that when it comes to Lego, for some reason they are super expensive. Licensed sets like Star Wars, Avengers and so on can go for almost over double for what they would cost in the US. Case in point, I once saw the Star Wars Death Star selling for around P30,000.00 or almost $700! And that was in RETAIL! Anyway, I really have no interest in Lego sets, but what my fiancee and I love are the minifigures. Unfortunately, if you want a lot of the licensed stuff, like Marvel superheroes or in this case the Ninja Turtles, you have to buy actual sets. And not just one set mind you, to complete the turtle foursome, you had to buy multiple sets which in this country would really cost you an arm and a leg.

have to get them all...
So I was quite delighted to find “single” Turtles for sale here at the Toy Con. Well, it was obvious that these Turtles were knock offs but their cheap price of 50 pesos or about $1 each made them worth a second look.

NOT a good "alternate"
for the real thing....
When it comes to bootlegs or cheaper knock off products, it is almost always a case of “buyer beware”. You’re never really sure exactly what you’re gonna get, and more often than not, you end up getting what you paid for….a cheap low quality item. In the past I did try buying a knockoff Transformer…and regretted it almost instantly. The damn toy could barely stay together in either mode and was soon disassembled for spare parts.

This time however was different. I mean, I get that a Transformer is a generally difficult toy to bootleg with all the different moving pieces that have to fit in seamlessly, but this was a “Lego” minifigure…surely something as simple as that could be replicated properly….still, I was hesitant…the main reason being they were being sold in sealed boxes so you really couldn’t see what the actual toy looked like. Ultimately I decided to buy one turtle, open him up on the spot, inspect it and if it passed, get the other three.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I ended up getting. OK so it was quite obvious that this dude wasn’t the real thing. The plastic felt slightly different and if you stared long enough at it you would probably notice that the paint didn’t look 100% perfect, but for a display piece to add to my turtle shelf….he would do just fine! Unfortunately, when I had decided to get the other three, I found out that my wallet had run dry (see I told you I wasn’t really planning to go…if I did, I would have been more financially prepared!). I tried looking for an ATM outside the convention but they were all either bled dry of cash or full of people. So in the end, I went home with just one knock off Michaelangelo (my fiancee made off with a couple knock off Care Bear key chains too! ) to show for all my troubles at the Toy Convention. But I was happy…happy that I was able to resist the urge to spend a lot “just because” I was there.

A few months later I did end up completing my knock off foursome when I found the other 3 for sale at a local hobby shop. They were slightly more expensive but still cheap…about 80 pesos or a little less than 2 dollars each. And this time they were being sold loose (out of the box) so I could easily inspect each one before buying them. So all’s well that ends well. I managed to complete my four “Lego” turtles and still keep both arms and both legs.