The Vault

Knock it Off will you !

The Vault Keeper

The Vault Keeper

….or, Don’t Knock it (Off) until you’ve tried it.


I have a selection of knock off’s in my collection ! Now, there are some who would convince me to feel bad at this fact, to some of them I would merely ask how their 3rd Party collection is coming along. See where I’m coming from here, well anyway that debate aside I thought I’d share some photos of three of my Knock Off Optimus Prime’s and add just a few words about each, not quite a review but a little more than just a glut of images thrown onto the web.


I’ll stress a point from the outset, I’m not condoning the production or supply of these items, my opinions are simply just that, my opinions and as such should be taken with all the authoritative weight they command…..which is far less than my actual physical weight.

Knock Off’s (or Bootlegs) are a fact and they have been for many years, they even have their own collecting base and fandom. One thing you will never read here on Vaults of Iacon is the collecting hierarchy or snobbery, it’s mentality that we can do without. I’m a creature of simplicity, direct and straight to the point, an ethos I encapsulate in the Brown paper reviews, analogue man, no Photoshop or fancy stuff here.

See, how quickly I get distracted, where was I……..oh yes, Knock Off Optimus Prime.


Since the early 2000’s G1 Knock Off’s have been coming out of China, a company call Zhog Jin is thought to be the originator of them. Looking almost identical to their official forebears they are made to a surprising high standard, albeit with their flaws. To date we have seen a selection from G1 produced including the Minbots, Micro-Cassettes, the Dinobot’s, Gestalt box sets, a selection of Autobot cars and of course Optimus Prime. These figures produced have also been made available in some unique plastic colours, none which were officially produced at the time and which make them quite highly collectable. The main rub here is the fact that they are so close to the originals you get situations where some people knowingly sell or attempt to pass these off as legitimate product to less knowledgeable collectors, or the ignorant (through no fault of their own) sell them thinking they are official. Either way, it’s an issue but if in any doubt or before a substantial purchase always research the item before hand and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and for extra (or specific) photographs to view.


With not wanting to get too deep into pointing out all the differences between a Knock Off Vs. Official I’ll note a few of the major tells, for further information there are plenty of sites that delve deeper into this.

G1 Optimus Prime (Hasbro) Left Vs. G1 Optimus Prime (Knock Off) Right…..err, I think !

Grey Border: The official release has no grey border across the top of the display window.

Sunburst Effect: The official release is duller and encroaches further towards the centre of the box

Info Text: The official release is larger and of a differing font to the Knock Off

Right, on with the pictures….

G1 Optimus Prime: Standard

Having never had Optimus Prime as a child back in 1984 (hold off on your sympathies as I had more than enough other Transformers to compensate for this), I now find myself having an over abundance, a glut if you will of G1 Primes. This Knock Off was a welcome addition as it meant I could keep my official vintage (and reissue) releases in their respective boxes and for some even to remain sealed. A quick glance over and you could never tell, it’s a good overall quality. Sure there are some minor paint flaws and a looseness to certain joints but that aside it’s a good solid figure, so solid in fact that I’m debating getting another for my son to play with.

G1 Optimus Prime: Black Ver.

Immediately apparent that this is a Knock Off, sure a black Optimus Prime has been released but never in vintage Hasbro packaging. The release I speak of is from 2000, released as an exclusive for the Japanese convention JAFCON, in conjunction with the original G1 toy in it’s standard colours (of course this being a Japanese issue of the character it is named Convoy). I picked this one up so I didn’t have to open my JAFCON exclusive ! As with the previous Prime this KO is of equal quality and has the same flaws too, with not having opened my Black Convoy I am unable to compare it with that figure but I assume there will be differences.

G1 Optimus Prime: Crystal Ver.

To finish up it’s a no brainer, Crystal Optimus Prime is a unique piece. As obvious a Knock Off as there can be, at one time may have been called a “Lunchtime Special” but now we know better. Differing from the previous two, other than the obvious, this figure has no die-cast parts (other than the pins for the wheels and the hip joints). This one doesn’t see the light of day much as it’s brittle, I mean really brittle……I was twitching every time I handled it to transform and pose. I don’t claim to know too much about plastics but I assume its due to it being translucent or it could, basically, be just cheap plastic. And this is a real shame because out of the three this is my favourite. It just looks amazing, I have a fondness for translucent plastics and I have too few figures made of this in my collection.


Well there we go, not the most informative of articles but hopefully it’s been a fun one, I know I’ve enjoyed it.

If your thinking of picking one up then I’d say go for it, they are cheap and cheerful and they also save on messing about with your treasured originals.

And to think, I was going to sell these….what was I thinking !


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