starfish wrote:A toy that looks like Ultra Magnus is not an "original design".
Sure the exterior bears certain similarities to the original G1 depiction of Ultra Magnus, however the engineering, mold design and marketing go out of their way to be different from all official incarnations of Ultra Magnus. In other words, there are similarities, but only so far a FreeBSD is similar to Linux. Unless you're a lawyer and can produce a court-worthy argument of this point, I will stick with City Commander being a "original design"
FansProject sales are minimal, I doubt they make even the slightest bit of difference to those of megabucks Hasbro. The only people it helps are those who want to sell their classics Magnuses (Magni?) on ebay. Before FP, I could get a Magnus & Skywarp set on ebay for under £10. A couple of years ago they were shelfwarmers in my local Woolworths. Now an opened Magnus on ebay can go for silly money. How does that help Hasbro?
Perhaps City Commander came along far too late to help Ultra Magnus sell, but Shadow Commander assisted in selling off more SDCC Nemesis Primes and the Upcoming Superion Limbs will guarentee that the ROTF Superion will fly off the shelves, and most likely the Bruticus too because fans will hedge their bets that a limb set for him is next. That will help Hasbro.
It doesn't matter if FP are a non-profit organisation. What they do is copyright theft. If I copy a CD and give a copy to a friend for the cost of a blank CD, that too is theft. It matters not one jot whether or not I'm making a proft, it's still illegal.
Again, that comes down to what is and isn't copyrighted. They've designed the character, the mold, the engineering and the connection sequence with the Hasbro Ultra Magnus figure all without stealing or poaching any ideas from Hasbro. And before you try the whole "Trailer combines with robot" argument, such a technique is hardly confined to Transformers. The whole "x combines with y" is pretty common in some cartoons and anime. If Hasbro has a copyright on the image
of what an Ultra Magnus should look like, then there could be an argument. But I'm not a fan of searching the US Patent office so I cannot say definitively that they do or don't. I highly suspect they don't though.
Besides, I'm very dubious that these guys are non-profit. All we have is their own say-so... I'd love to have a look at their accounts. I mean, if they sell these things at cost then how come the non-chromed Shadow Commander cost way more than the chromed one?
Wait... there's a chromed Shadow Commander out there?