Important industry changes afoot?

Don’t know if you guys caught this thread here at BBICN

1/6 Sellers in China have been getting hit with cease and desists for items containing logos of US companies. An issue for our hobby as almost nothing is licensed and trademarks are routinely used. I’ve spoken to some about the issues this caused with Soldier Story in the US and how that really has changed/effected the US market for distributors and retailers importing product. It is one of those things brands are going to have to be careful with moving forward. In previous years Caltek (Soldier Story’s US distributor) was acquiring licenses from Crye and other manufacturers.

While takedowns are nothing new (Glock is pretty notorious for this along with 1 or 2 other US equipment guys) what is new is an influential voice in the 1:6 industry reinforcing this message to brands. In recent times we’ve seen figure boxes move to more generic packaging with some subtle changes to photos to not so brazenly display unauthorized trademarks and the use of things like black tape to cover up trademarks (as a message to brands that never fools a customs officer).

Is it only regarding the US?

What happened there?

@AdamC So many questions. What I would like to know the most, what do we have to fear as hobbyists now? Less detailed items, items disappearing at all or rising figure prices due to licensing?

Some of the US gear guys will file takedowns on ebay listings and now that is extending to China through their ecommerce platforms. Basically Aliexpress and Taobao are being more compliant as they try to move in on the US market. I’ve noticed in some specific categories outside of 1:6 that retailers have been closing shop or disguising their items. Most of the 1:6 brands are already taking steps to hide things from customs in the US, shipping parts in separately, covering things, more generic packaging, etc. China has a history of going through IP enforcement in an on again/off again fashion, but I think Jack Ma and others are trying to make the process more transparent and manufacturer driven as they try to build relationships in the US. Taobao/Ali have a poor global reputation for carrying knock off goods, and that is harmful as they try to extend business into other markets.

Short term we are already seeing some of the effects. The latest DAM FBI HRT figure doesn’t have FBI anywhere on the box (they just use Hostage Rescue Team) and if you look at pictures of the shield in ebay listings you’ll see they put black tape over the FBI lettering on the shield. Inside the figure box the patches are sort of hidden from view. This is not a solution really, and it isn’t well thought out as they still have a picture of the figure with a giant FBI patch on his arm on the front of the box. I’ve been noticing other changes with how things are getting shipped into the US now which point to distributors trying to circumvent customs.

I’ve been saying for a few years now that they have to make a choice between licensing things or not using logos and other trademarks. As hobbyists that could mean less detailed items or slightly higher prices if they start licensing things. Part of the problem is the US distributors don’t have a track record to be able to acquire licenses with branches of the military or some of the gear manufacturers. You also have people showing up to Shotshow with figures bearing unlicensed trademarks which isn’t clever. On the positive side DAM has shown they can acquire some higher profile licenses. It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves over time as you now have bigger players in China adding their voice to the debate. I would rather see things licensed with royalties paid and a slightly higher price point. Not a popular opinion but long term this is the healthier option.

That’s a bit worrying. I also noticed the lately FBI HRT thing with DAM. Especially the shield.

Personally I would just prefer to pay higher prices. No Iron Man amounts though, but like 5-10% would be fine to me. Lack of detail would damage 1/6 for me. That’s almost the only reason I started collecting.

Taobao has lots of offerings and also items that are not avilable in EU or US anymore. Them moving in outside China would be nice. Prices will rise, but no Taobao Agents anymore. So no monetary advantages, but more availability.

Ali is just bad in my experience. Far too expensive, no stock and shady sellers.

By the way, will you feature pics in your blog from the Shotshow? You said there will be 1/6 as well?

In regards to DAM’s FBI HRT figure, could this be the reason why some stores like Hobby-Galaxy have not received the shipment of the figure yet? How much of a delay would this issue cause?

The distributor they use has had product seized by US customs on multiple occasions. If a figure has items with trademarks/logs the distributor will often ship in the main parts of a figure separate from those with trademarks and then repackage them. That is often why you end up with strange things like the boots off the figure, with those and gloves, patches, etc in small bags inside the box. Time-wise it depends if they ship by sea or by air for the main parts of a figure. The other US distributor has started air shipping in some of their product, not sure if they are trying to avoid customs or just get the product in faster. Both of them face the same potential issues with customs.

It is more about them creating an American market rather than extending the market in China to the US. I think they would have too many issues as there is a large cultural difference in how they handle/sell things like you mention. Even the better retailers there have a habit of sending out junk.

For shot show there is usually only one retailer that sometimes shows product there. I might post some of the non-1/6 for some of the more interesting firearms/gear stuff.

If I have to pay that much more than I’m going to say goodbye to this hobby. It’s too expensive as it is.

The price creep has been pretty rapid these last two years. Doesn’t help that we see a lot of imaginary prices in this hobby as well.