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Mattel Disney Pixar Diecast CARS: Counterfeits, Bootlegs, Fakes, Waste and Factory Unauthorized

While we know what the world’s second oldest profession is, counterfeiter or scammer is probably about 13th so it’s probably literally older than time itself.

“This is the finest flint on the continent! It cuts, it stabs, it scraps fatty tissue from bearskin like there’s no tomorrow in Pangaea! Trust me! I swear it to be the truth or my name is not Og! And if you buy today, I will throw in this bucket of water, it’s the latest in fire height control!”

So, it’s no surprise that a few hundred thousand years later, their ancestors are still around doing the same song and dance … with CARS.

Stage 1- FAKE

But let’s backtrack a little. Up until a few years ago, anyone who wanted to sell a Disney Pixar CARS item did the old fashion way. They made a terrible fake. They had access to cheap production of something made of the cheapest plastic. They avoided attention by selling it in the back alleys door to door to small indie dealers or just random public market resellers.

pirate-mcq

Of course, you were not fooling anyone but who had the time to police flea markets, swap meets, etc … and what were you really confiscating – spending $500 dollars to get $5 worth of plastic?

mater-top

Don’t git her done.

And of course, people who were buying these were clearly not able or not willing to spend much more for the real thing and really, they got what they paid for. And it’s not like it really said Disney or Pixar – it implied it and you could argue even in  a court of law that it’s mostly dissimilar but again, even if you could actually get them to court, how much compensation could you claim from this company?

Stage 2- FAKE COUNTERFEIT

With access to a computer scanning, it was obviously much easier to scan in logos to create mock-a-like fake counterfeits. The obvious things are like t-shirts with the Gucci or another high fashion logo from a brand that DID NOT sell t-shirts. Or in the case of toys, it might be something like this.

I know I’m going on a limb and claim this is a fake but I think I’m right on this.

You take a toy you have access to, you paint it the right color and add a few appropriated logos here and there or steal some artwork files. Clearly, in this case, you cannot claim inspiration to create your own line as in the Mater in the first example. This is clearly an attempt to confuse consumers – the first benchmark in a trademark violation. I would also argue if you sell something this atrocious and ugly, you need to be thrown into a pit to ponder your crime against MY EYES! MY EYES! And this is what a company like Disney mostly fought against all these years, people taking some random look alike mouse-shaped thing and slapping some logos on it to confuse people and scarily enough, I’m sure there are 859 people on this Earth who thinks this is a Disney/Pixar product.

Again, there’s not a whole lot of money in this but clearly enough to do it and sell it off and turn a small enough profit – maybe not North Dakota but maybe North Korea.

Stage 3- BOOTLEGS/STOLEN

Of course, the easiest thing to do is simply to steal whatever item after they are legitimately produced and paid for by the actual company who owns the rights. Of course, in the music or movie industry, access to the negative, the original masters or in the digital age, you can create literally create a virtual copy – you reproduce the item and the bootleg is virtually indistinguishable from the original (especially if you have access to the master tapes) but in the case of physical goods, you simply steal them and re-sell them. Everything looks legitimate to the end buyer as it’s a correct item in every way outside of the illegal distribution method. This of course is also as old and older than time. This of the three choices so far is the one the police are most like to go after you as the manufacturer, the warehouse or a distributor actually files charges that it’s stolen and fairly easy to track – the larger and more expensive the item, of course.

Stage 4- FACTORY PRODUCTION WASTE

Now, there have always been factory production items “stolen” or given away for free. As with any mass production items that roll off a machine, you have to crank up the machines so the first few hundred/thousand need adjustment to get it right or simply to warm up the machine or there are errors in this batch. These were rejects that were supposed to be recycled or tossed. Or in the old days, as with a lot of factories that made “inexpensive” items, employees could just take them – socks, toys and even Budweiser used to allow employees to take dented cans home … because basically, who were you going to sell them to – in a town with a sock factory where hundreds of people are taking damaged socks, what will people pay for damaged socks? A few pennies? So, while there was probably also some employee theft, a) how many socks could you steal and b) who is going to spend money trying to sell socks. So, no one really cared. Same with toys. They probably had a bin where they tossed in first runs, errors and not passing inspection pieces – take what you want. In Hong Kong, for many years, you can go to the toy swap meets and pick up first shots, damaged production, errors or simply machine over-runs – cheap. If you live in HK, you know it’s waste so you pay accordingly. Even visitors who stumble upon couldn’t really make a huge return unless you were willing to fly back from HK with it but go to how many toy shows before you could could unload it? Or spend money on classified ads in toy magazines. It might’ve been a nice hobby but not a business. eBay changed all this 10 years ago (along with the consumer internet). Now, that error Luke Skywalker which might be worth $2 in HK is suddenly worth $25 to a guy in Austin, Texas. One click and one paypal transaction later, you are not mailing a Western Union to an address in HK and hoping to get it 5 weeks. Now, a giant corporation is going to guarantee you get what you pay for.

Of course, in the case of diecast CARS, the question is who is deciding a vehicle is damaged? If you are buds (with pay) with the factory shift quality control guy, he says these 25 don’t pass muster and put them in a box. If the production run is 5,000? 10,000 or 50,000 – hard to say for certain if 25, 100 or even 200 don’t pass muster – it might be totally legit. So, technically the factory tells Mattel X number was damaged or didn’t pass muster – unless it’s some giant number like 10%, Mattel accepts it as a normal course of business.

Stage 5- FACTORY UNAUTHORIZED PRODUCTION

It is what is states – that the very factory that produced the AUTHORIZED CARS that Mattel sells … is also working a second/secret shift to produce non-Mattel non-authorized CARS led by a group of people with more personal interests. They basically cranked up the assembly line to make their own versions.

So, no more hand painted production rejects, no smash & grab, no three finger deals back at the loading dock. It’s enough to make your head spin.

First, you are free to decide what you want to spend your money on. I am not here to judge you, I’m only going to say what I think. To me, if they are not packaged and officially released by Mattel somewhere on Earth, they are not part of the line. Yes, every once in a while, you get a release where it’s botched or slips through the cracks and only shows up in very limited supply (Sparemint vertical 3-pack, Flik & PT Flea Canada English or Luigi/Guido Lenticular paint, etc …) but they are packaged and officially released – albeit only in some poor manner. That is 100% different than running your own production line. This has been an ongoing issue since the Red Ransburg or the Brainstorm 50. After producing unauthorized versions of those, they started on a bevy of colors, chrome versions, etc …  continuing to today with the Rainbow Colors Lightning McQueen and/or the latest with the international flags.

Just because they are from the same factory does not make them legitimate releases. Just like a painting done by a Rembrandt student in his official studio is NOT an actual Rembrandt. You are free to buy the Rembrandt but you should pay much less than an actual one painted by the actual artist but hey, it’s YOUR MONEY. Spend it as you like.

And in the case of the Rainbow LM’s – clearly, someone has access to the diecasts, and the tampo decals – all they did here is not use LM Red and ask for different paint loads. Maybe someday, they will release LM in 50 colors but today is not that day.

As for the flag ones, they are laughably inept. Maybe this same guy hired his nephew to whip some up or maybe this guy thought he was a world class designer so that’s the best of his effort or maybe he has no standards and paid some guy huge money to whip up the amateur hour designs but clearly, it’s a FAIL. There is ZERO chance Pixar designed this unless they are now hiring designer’s using WIN ’98 and MS Paint. Of course, that’s my opinion, it’s your money, you are free to spend it on Whip Cream flavored vodka, a Who Farted Hat and Flag Lightning McQueen’s. You might believe they are the most beautiful CARS of all time. They’re not but again, it’s your money, spend it as you like.

Here is the “Spanish” one where the design consists of taking Miguel Camino’s artwork and doing a PASTE INTO Lightning’s bolt and then taking Miguel’s roof tampo and placing it on LM’s with a slight modification. The guy either spent 2 minutes or 200 hours on this.

So, just because they are diecast, have the EAA stamp and they roll does not make them official CARS. Beyond that, buy what you like.

If you want to read more, our older posts include more photos such as these fakes or these … or especially these. Or the rainbow Lightning McQueen’s which outlines the information process. And of course, the saga of the fabled Red Ransburg.

Oh and before anyone gets all indignant about poor IP laws and current factory workers, Charlie Dickens made no money in America even though his books were monster hits (in the UK naturally) because people would bring them over from England and printers would make their own versions here in the US – pocketing every dime so the whole IP theft thing is not new … just as 100 years ago, there were people selling Koca-Kola – we’re all just human.

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