Bootlegs are AN ILLEGAL CRIME, but I’ve always been drawn to them. Transformers bootlegs are often presented in strange colors. They’re often over (or under)-sized, and the plastic sometimes turns to ash the moment you remove them from their shoddy blister cards. But that’s their charm, right?
They’re a lot like one of those direct-to-video B sci-fi mockbusters (Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim, etc.)– you never know exactly what kind of treasures and/or horrors are contained within.
Some bootlegs, though, are straightforward. They’re exact copies of the original toy and boast similar quality, construction, coloring, and size. Sometimes they’re almost indistinguishable. They’re a perfect clone, more of a Boba Fett than a Bizarro Superman.
The ethics around these get kind of dicey. This is the case with the bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker we’re looking at today. You can lambast me in the comments and give me flashbacks to my Instagram DMs, but I won’t be too bothered– I’ve spent enough money on Hasbro and Takara products by now that I’m sure I’ve put every middle manager in both company’s kids through college.
I picked this bootleg Sunstreaker up from AliExpress for several reasons:
- I’ve never owned a G1 Sunstreaker, and it hasn’t recently been reissued
- Many Sunstreakers on the secondary market are broken, missing pieces, or prohibitively expensive
- I’ve always been curious about the early Diaclone robots who became Transformers
- I wanted to know if these bootlegs were good quality
- It seemed like a fun thing to share with my readers
So, let’s take a look at this Doppelganger Sunstreaker. Ending 2019 by looking at a morally-dubious copy of a beloved Autobot car robot seems like a fitting way to say goodbye to this Hell Decade.
After 35 Years, My Sunstreaker is a Bootleg
I was born in 1984, the same year that graced us with the original Transformers cartoon, comic, and toy line. Which means, obviously, that I missed out on what many fans consider “the good stuff.”
I was still obsessed with Transformers as a kid, but that’s because of VHS rentals, cartoon reruns on TV, and the toy line’s enduring popularity. Most of my childhood Transformers came from the 1990s and late 1980s. But don’t cry for me, my childhood was great. Just imagine the monumental battles that consisted of Rollbar lazily and awkwardly plowing into Bugly under the power of his own pullback motor.
As a kid, I had a few Pretenders, Throttlebots, Action Masters, later Minibots, Triggercons, Firecons, Micromasters, and the like. Other than Powermaster Optimus Prime and ¾ of the Classic Pretenders, I didn’t have any characters from the cartoon cast. I missed out on the original Diaclone cars and jets entirely.
That changed in 1992. My Grandparents returned from a trip to Europe (celebrating their retirement) and brought me a Classics Inferno and an Action Master Charger. Inferno was my first experience with the early Transformers car robots, and I immediately fell in love with him. I loved the little pilot seat, the die cast metal, the rocket punch fists, and his beautiful sculpting.
When Generation 2 rolled around, I eventually obtained G2 Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, and Jazz. That gave me more clues into the original Autobot lineup and made me even more interested in the mysteries of the early Transformers toys.
To this day, I still don’t have too many of the original Diaclone molds. I have a G1 Hound, a reissue Hoist, Encore Ratchet and Ironhide, and maybe another one I can’t remember at the moment. They all transform very differently and have their own little idiosyncrasies, so it seems like each one is a treasure.
There are some G1 Car Robots you don’t see as often, either as reissues or as decent-condition relics from 1984. Sunstreaker is one of those. So, as my first foray into G1 Transformers bootlegs, I decided to go for this bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker.
Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker– a Quick Review
I thought it would be fun to take a look at this thing together. This bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker came out somewhat recently, but I’m not sure exactly when. You can find them all over eBay and AliExpress. I got it for $25 (including shipping), which seems reasonable to me.
The packaging is straight-up G1, and it’s a marvel to behold. You’ve got the amazing space battle artwork on the back, and the aesthetics of the classic Transformers boxes can’t be beat.
When you open the box, though, Sunstreaker and his accessories are in a cheap blister bubble attached to a sheet of cardboard. I think the original, official releases used Styrofoam (or maybe plastic?) trays, so that’s one way this release cheaped out. Still, I’m happy that I’m not contributing more styrofoam to the landfill.
UPDATE: Dan Ghile informs me the original G1 releases used plastic bubbles glued to cardboard, too. So, carry on! Happy to correct my mistakes.
This bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker comes with all of his original accessories (two fists, three missiles, two shoulder “things” that can function as piledriver fists I guess), label sheet, separate rubsign sticker, instructions, and one of those awesome clear red tech spec decoders I loved as a kid but somehow always lost.
So, how’s the quality? I’ve never handled the original, but I have to say it feels really good overall. It’s a nice mixture of die cast metal and high quality plastic. The color match on the metal and plastic parts isn’t great, but yellow is notoriously hard to get right, even for modern toys.
I adore the vehicle mode, with its chrome blowers, happy-go-lucky colors, and seat for a Diaclone Driver. The Lamborghini Countach is one of the coolest looking cars ever produced– we were all obsessed with it in the 80s and 90s. Other than a lack of accessory storage (which is a thing with most early G1 Transformers) and some color mismatch, I couldn’t be any happier with this towheaded sci-fi supercar.
Transforming him, though, is another matter entirely. It does strike me that while the G1 car robots observe certain tropes and patterns in their transformations, each mold gets from Point A to Point B quite differently. And I don’t always love the process. The actual engineering here is cool, but the arm hinges in particular seem like they’re prone to snapping if you’re not careful, despite the high quality metal and plastic. Transforming Sunstreaker the first few times was pretty stressful, and I imagine a lot of kids eventually ended up with broken yellow Lambo Robots.
Still, I feel better about it after doing it several times.
This bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker’s robot mode is great. His wrist sockets launch his fists, missiles, or piledriver-thingies very forcefully. He also has some okay arm articulation, and everything is mostly sturdy and stable. Plus, he looks cool– the bright colors and unique head sculpt are fantastic.
As an added plus, his missiles (which I would have used as gun hands as a kid, and will do so as an adult, as well) fit Siege blast effects parts very nicely.
By today’s standards, this is not a great action figure, but it’s a fun toy. It’s a great little Lamborghini model in car mode, and the robot conversion presents a stressful puzzle to kids and adults alike.
The quality of this bootleg is fantastic– I’d guess it’s probably just as good as the original. But that presents its own problems. If you do buy one of these, you’re in for a good time. It looks good in photos and it’ll look great on a shelf with your other Autobots. Just don’t be one of those jackasses who tries to resell this thing and pass it off as an original Sunstreaker. Because, above all else, this is not an original Sunstreaker. It’s a bootleg.
Verdict: I enjoy this thing, but it’s a bootleg. A very nice bootleg is still a bootleg. If you decide to buy one, know what you’re getting into. And, for the love of all that is kind and good in this world, don’t try to pass it off as the real thing.
Closing Thoughts on this Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker
We’ll get back to GI Joe at some point, I promise. And 90s toys as a whole. I just wanted to do this quick, fun post so we could look at this bootleg together. This thing is so good that you could almost call it a Deepfake. Which is dangerous in its own right.
What’s your favorite bootleg of any toy from any line? Let me know in the comments.
I’ll also be readying my bear-proof armor to guard against the torches and pitchforks you’ll be hurling my way. After all, bootlegs are AN ILLEGAL CRIME.