Deluxe Salon Sonata Transforming Lobot!

Korean KO Oversized Bluestreak, SonataBot

UPDATE 9/17/08: Thx to Northern on the Autocon Yahoo group, we have pics of another oversized KO bot from the same company: Oversized KO Prowl | Box Art

I was lucky enough to have a good friend in Korea pick me up this rare piece of shi- history, a one-of-a-kind 300% supersized Bluestreak knockoff.  The best part for me isn’t just the toy itself, but also the packaging and presentation which really add to the entire ripoff experience.  Truly amazing.

In general, Korean toy knockoffs have typically been of fairly low quality to this point and this one is no exception.  From Mazinger Z retooled as Taekwon V to Michael Hasselhoff crossovers and Xabungle crossed over into the Taekwon V line, the Korean toy industry has had its fair share of infamy in the knockoff arena.  Korea, being close to Japan, usually borrows a lot of popular Japanese product ideas and “re-appropriates” them in their own context, mutating and twisting elements of popular culture to their own highly nationalistic tastes – sort of a love/hate/revenge affair in many ways.

Of course, there have been a lot of actual licensed product lines in Korea including Takara Transformers Car Robots and Bandai GoLion, but in general the toy manufacturers are usually just looking to turn a profit as cheaply and quickly as possible, with little thought of long-term strategy, continuity, or copyright infringement.  The products are often quirky, hard to track down, and hence rare to find in good condition.  While the knockoff industry may be illegally profiting from piracy and plagiarism, on the other hand a handful of companies have shown some major ingenuity and creativity that I’d like to think stems from sincere homage to the originals and adds to the lineage as bastard children.

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