Hi! I have been selling vintage Hasbro G1 Transformers for 14 years. In that time, I’ve sold some 150,000 of them on Ebay alone. I made this guide because people ask me these questions all the time. This guide will help you to do the following:
- Distinguish between a vintage Hasbro Generation 1 Transformer and a reissue
- Spot a vintage Hasbro Generation 1 Transformer from a vintage knock-off or fake
- Identify new knock-off’s versus original Hasbro Generation 1 Transformers
- Learn what makes a Transformer complete
- Evaluate the benefit of buying vintage versus reissues
- Ascertain where to buy your Transformers
1. Distinguish between a vintage Hasbro Generation 1 Transformer and a reissue
Although at first glance they look identical, deciphering a vintage Hasbro G1 Transformer from a reissue is actually quite simple. All you need to do is locate the manufacturer’s mark. In all cases the mark is hidden. You might find the mark on the inside of legs, underneath the car in vehicle mode, etc. This mark has a lot of information, but the key is where it was made. All reissues to date are stamped China. If you have a transformer that says CHINA you have a reissue. Unfortunately this does not help you while looking on ebay as pictures do not show the manufacturer’s mark. All I can say is figure out who you can best trust and buy from them, this is covered in item 6.
2. Spot a vintage Hasbro Generation 1 Transformer from a vintage knock-off or fake
While this will not be all inclusive of every fake ever made, this will help you in most cases. Most fakes do not have the date of manufacture or who made it. In some cases no manufacturer’s information will be on it at all, in others, it will have Hasbro removed or both Takara and Hasbro removed. It can admittedly be tricky. The good news is that few vintage fakes exist. Most vintage fakes are obviously different like a Radio Shack clone of Shockwave. I have also seen countless times people selling a fake Defensor, Devastator or Superion without saying they are a fake. They are without a doubt the most miserable copies ever made. Made of cheap plastic that is very brittle that buyers pays $75-$100 for and it‘s worth maybe $10.
3. Identify new knock-off’s versus original Hasbro Generation 1 Transformers
You might do a search on ebay for Ratbat, or Buzzsaw for example. You will see items mint in package that look identical to vintage items. The problem here is when they are opened. What do the people do with them? They can for example remove the ears from Ratbat and stick them on a vintage item, make a $30 item go up to $75. While I can not cover this in depth, I can say this, buy from someone who has been selling a long time. Someone who knows what they are selling, but more important, that you can be reasonably sure they are not trying to rip you off.
4. Learn what makes a Transformer complete
This means a lot of things to a lot of people. To most sellers the commonly accepted "complete" transformers come with all weapons and accessories, but not the box or paperwork. Now the key for you the buyer is to be informed on what makes one complete. Know what you should get, look at the picture, read the description and if they don’t match don’t buy it. Additionally, keep in mind that many sellers are not sure if it really is complete, they make assumptions/guesses about it, or they may fully believe that it is "complete" and have simply made a mistake. It happens all the time.
5. Evaluate the benefit of buying vintage versus reissues
Here, I am strictly comparing GI Transformers to the reissues. Bottom line: the reissues are cheaper quality and the weapons are not identical. The plastics are not as strong and they are more brittle. They are cheaply made in China. As for the weapons, take a look at the reissued seeker jets with their big missiles or the Prime without Smokestacks, or the Cars without chrome weapons. There simply is no comparison.
6. Ascertain where to buy your Transformers
First, you need to review feedback. Anyone with under 100 feedback and you should stay away from them unless they have been selling on Ebay longer than 2 years. You need to be sure they’ve proven themselves to be trustworthy. The date they joined is on the feedback rating page. It sounds harsh, but if you want to avoid being ripped off, follow that guideline.
Second, look at the rating, as a percent no more than 2% should be negative. If the seller has negatives greater than that you should steer clear of them, they are likely trouble. Note every seller has problems, but there is no reason why it should be higher than 2%. A classic example is not in the transformers categories but for electronics of the factory returns/showroom/used variety. Talk about some dealers with bad feedback, but if you look closely you can always find a seller selling the same items, with great feedback, and having been on ebay for years.
Third, look very closely at the listing. Be careful of word games. I have seen many sellers list an item as "complete" when there are no accessories, now we both know that is not complete. How about this one: "90% complete Starscream" except its missing all four missiles! Sorry but that is not even 70% complete.
Fourth, avoid "as is" items. Or if the seller is not able to verify the contents and condition, such as someone selling something for the first time that can be understood, but be aware they may be unfamiliar with the product, not exactly whom I would buy from. Beware of the "no guarantee" or "no returns." What they are telling you is if it is not as listed you can't return it, that does not seem fair or even ethical. Further, some allow a return, but only at your expense, even if it is their mistake. Now, wait a minute, they made the mistake and you pay for shipping? If it is their mistake then they should pay shipping charges both ways.
Fifth, read the terms of sale. Beware of vague descriptions. An auction should have all the sellers terms and conditions expressly stated. Some sellers totally avoid that, particularly shipping charges.
Sixth, make sure you ask any questions before bidding, if you have any.
Seventh, buy insurance. You will loose the total purchase price if you don’t buy insurance, if it is lost or damaged.
Please enter whether this was helpful or not in the box below. Thank you, Wheeljackslab