Variants of vintage toys are super collectible. The origins behind the reason for the variation is usually forgotten in time. There are many reasons why a variant may be made, sometimes it is a test shot one off, sometimes it is an intentional variation due to rules or regulations, other times it may be an unintentional variation, or a factory error. The biggest question that a collector asks when a variation is found is “is it real, or authentic” or is it a knock off, bootleg, or imitation of the original collectible?
EL GRECO BLACK SPIDER
Around the world vintage toys were originally released with all types of differences with complete disregard to their longevity, life span, or even collectible nostalgia through the ages. The toy companies were in business to make money. and not worry about the history their were creating.
EL GRECO TEPATO MAXOI EXOGINI BATTLE BEASTS
The vintage Greek Battle Beasts toy line Tepato Maxoi has been one collectible toy series shrouded in mystery. This line is going to be 30 years old, and the collectors still don’t know the history, all because the manufactures logo was kept off the packaging.
BLUE FOX WITH ALTERNATE ARMS
BLUE CAT WITH ALTERNATE ARMS
To find if a toy like this is truly authentic we have to look at the businesses who were originally involved in the manufacturing process. Hasbro the original Battle Beast manufacturer in North America actually got the toys from Takara in Japan.
This was part of a discussion I was having in 2015 on the http://www.littlerubberguys.com forum with the collector Beastformers who runs the Battle Beast collectors blog at
in particular reference to his section on the Tepato Maxoi section.
Beastformers runs a wonderful informative site, however the opinion at Gotham Collectibles differs when it comes to calling the Tepato Maxoi Battle Beasts bootlegs.
They are truly authentic. There is just to much partnership between Takara and El Greco for about 10 years before Battle Beasts were released. Takara worked with many companies in many different countries at that time and El Greco was just one of them. Takara only starting working with Hasbro for North American releases after their Diakron line failed. Diakron line was supposed to be Diaclone in North America but it never caught on. For example Takara worked with
El Greco in Greece with Micronauts and G1 Transformers
Ceji Joustra in France with Diaclone toys
Gig in Italy with Diaclone & Trasformers
Plastico IGA in Mexico with G1 Transformers
Estrela in Brazil with G1 Transformers
Antex in Argentina with G1 Transformers
Hasbro in North America with G1 Transformers and Battle Beasts
IGA WHITE BUMBLEBEE TRANSFORMER
DIACLONE PORCHE FROM JAPAN BY TAKARA, FROM FRANCE BY CEJI JOUSTRA, AND FROM ITALY BY GIG.
Takara’s logo was not necessarily on the package.
Takara’s relationship with El Greco seems to have started with Micronauts toy line. Takara had partnered with Mego in North America to sell their Micronauts, but Mego ended up going under so I believe they next partnered with Hasbro for North American distribution. This was probably the late 70’s, They released many El Greco Micronauts toys including many large sets.
PUNCH ROBO FROM MICRO MAN (MICRONAUTS)
There are many El Greco G1 Transformers like Minibots, Devestator, and Defensor just to name a few. This was all years before Battle Beasts. There is just no way El Greco was able to acquire so many Takara toy molds for releases spanning 10 years without having a a true partnership. My bet is El Greco purchased the Battle Beast molds from Takara in an agreement where they could come up with their own packaging for their own line. Battle Beasts at the time although a Transformers Headmasters spin off was ultimately a new idea. They could not release them as Transformers because they did not have alternate modes. Micronauts, Diaclone, and Trasformers toy lines had pretty much ended due to the success of G1 Transformers which was doing Series 3 releases when Battle Beasts came out. Pretty much when Fortess Maximus was released, the ultimate Base to stand Battle Beasts on. They made up Battle Beasts in North America, and Beastformers in Japan with Transformers logos on the packaging. Rather than trying to tie Battle Beasts in with Transformers in Greece, they left El Greco to do their own thing. El Greco would have had better insight on the marketing strategies that would make the line a success.
Maybe it’s worth noting that Milton Bradley Logos are sometimes on G1 Transformers packaging particularly in Europe and Canada because Hasbro and Milton Bradley merged together in 84.
Transformers has been going constant in North America since 1984. They have released new toys every year. Battle Beasts only ran a few years because they were really just part of the Transformers line of the time. Big bases were being made including Trypticon and Scorponok and the Battle Beasts were the perfect figures for them. The Headmaster and Powermaster figures were the same scale and they all interact very well.
TRANSFORMERS G1 HEADMASTER BASE FORTRESS MAXIMUS
In North America the marketing of Transformers under Hasbro changed in 1990 with the Action Masters line which was completely different. They basicially ended what they had been doing and restarted everything with a different kind of figure that just didn’t work with the previous Transfomers. This also ended Battle Beasts, because Action Masters was supposed to be the new thing. Transformers declined in North America and finally found some fans with Beast Wars a few years later.
Transformers in Japan under Takara however never had the Action Masters. They continued on with the good stuff and got several more years of G1 figures that North America never saw including some of the best to be released. The whole Masterforce, Victory, and Zone toys are exclusive only to Japan and of course Laser Beasts were released at the same time and have these exact Transformers logos on the boxes as from these series’. Liokasier is one of my favorites.
TRANFORMERS G1 ZONE BIG POWERED SET OF 3, DAI ATLAS, SONIC BOMBER, AND ROAD FIRE.
Takara and Hasbro still work together today. They release Transformers every year. The release the same toy in Japan under Takara, and in North America under Hasbro.
Among collectors El Greco is considerd a vintage authentic item when in regards to Hasbros 2 main toy lines Transformers and My Little Pony. Here is a Greek G1 Transformers toy commercial showing both Hasbro and El Greco logos at the end.
Hasbro was known to work with international companies in the 80’s. It was a great way for them to make some money. At the time, selling the licenses to international manufacturers and sending the molds was a much better deal than shipping their own product all over the planet. “Under Alan’s initiative in the late 1980s, Hasbro moved to increase international sales by taking US market failed toys overseas and selling them for as much as four times the original price. This increased international sales from $268 million in 1985 to $433 million in 1988.”
El Greco was the manufacturer Hasbro worked with in Greece. Galoob used El Greco to release Black Star toys in Greece. Here is a Trobit by El Greco. Notice it has a Made in Macau stamp!
EL GRECO BLACK STAR TROBIT
My Little Pony Collectors all over the world go crazy for the rare and expensive ‘Nirvana’ Pony’s including the Greek ones by El Greco. They even had different scents. A bootleg Pony is called a Fakie and the El Greco’s are not Fakies. Interesting to note that the Greek Pony’s have no stamps on them but the El Greco logos are on the package. It actually varied from country to county as to if the pony toys had stamps or not. My Little Pony as a toy line is nearly just as prolific as Transformers starting in 1984 and taking just a few years off from 93-96 in North America since then. Here is the master list of International My Little Pony manufacturers, and of course El Greco in on the list. http://www.modelhors…HCs_Hasbro.html
Here’s a blue skin Strawberry Shortcake by Estrela that I have not found any information on. It does not appear to be documented. Strawberry Shortcake is a brand by Hasbro.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE BY ESTRELA IN BRAZIL
If El Greco was stealing like over 100 Hasbro molds and releasing bootlegs the lawsuit would have been legendary. Hasbro had International reach and would have not let it happen. Hasbro had won a case in 1985 regarding their Transformers Jumpstarter figures which had been K.O’d. They also definitely would not have purchased El Greco like they did when the company fell if the company had been known for doing counterfeits. If not El Greco, than what company did Hasbro work with in Greece? They had licenses sold as far as India (MLP) so why leave out Greece?
The way a line was marketed was apparently up to the manufacturer from the international country other than Hasbro/Takara. Takara for example thought they could release My Little Pony in Japan and came up with the strangest variation of almost any toy line. It doesn’t really even look like a pony.
The Greek Battle Beasts were released as Exogini toys.
Gig owned the Exogini line and Takara’s had already worked with GIG several years earlier releasing the European exclusive line Trasformer Auto Robots and Diaclone. True there are no logos on the Greek Battle Beast box but that could have been somthing as simple as a printing error that they ran with. For example, some of the Diaclone figures from France made by Ceji Joustra have box art stating a comic included inside. The comic was never included becuase it simply would not fit in the package. The boxes were not reprinted and they ran with the error. The Greek Battle Beast figures themselves have clear Hasbro and Takara stamps on them. Also looking into it, other Exogini Greek packaging are also missing any manufacturer logos. https://www.facebook…40512655&type=3
Another link between El Greco and Takara is evident within the El Greco releases of Takara’s Micronauts toy line. So it is not all that strange to see Takara on an El Greco toy as is the case with the Greek Battle Beasts. Check out this FB page with images. https://www.facebook…?type=3
Note that the El Greco Micronauts figures came with the exact same safety Rubber Bopper Missles from GIG/Takara Trasformers Auto Robots. Micronauts were also released in Italy with GIG, which just shows more of the partnership history between Takara, GIG and EL Greco long before Battle Beasts. Looking closer at Micronauts toys, Takara didn’t change the stamps of existing toys after purchasing the line from Mego, they released the toys under Takara, GIG, and El Greco with the same old Mego stamps on them. It apparently wasn’t all that important to them.
Another interesting tie in is that the company Otto Simon seems to have been the Exogini and My Little Pony Manufacturer in the Netherlands, somewhat linking Hasbro to Exogini.
In conclusion I have found that the general consensus among collectors including collectors from Greece is that El Greco was the authentic Hasbro manufacturer for the local market. You only have to look to G1 My Little Pony and G1 Transformers forums to check this. It also only makes sense that the El Greco toys were authentic because Hasbro from a successful business point of view would not have worked with known counterfeiters. Especially since they were working with international companies at the time. El Greco was known to show their logo on Hasbro licensed items and the 2 logos can also sometimes be found together on various toy packaging.
To me Tepato Maxoi Battle Beasts having various forms of packaging really tells me this was an authentic product. You could buy the figures in 1, 2 ,or 4 quantities. Almost like there is a retail display out there for them. Possibly with the same imagery similar to the house ad you have posted on your site that includes the El Greco logo. Releasing them in with Exogini toy line really just adds to this idea. Like they were a new series just hitting stores for an already popular toy line. To top it all off, the Tepato Maxoi cannisters are very similar to the Otto Simon Exogini figure canisters.
The Disney comic book that you have on your site with the Tepato Maxoi ad is pretty exciting. Disney would have had to approve the ads in the comic before distribution. So getting a bootleg toy by the editor would have been a huge error and is really unlikely. I bet the ad in the comic was the same one that you already have a sample of with the El Greco logo on it.
Referring to 100 molds, I was including all of the Hasbro molds El Greco would have had to have stolen in order to have been a bootlegging company. There are just that many Hasbro toys with the El Greco logo on the box. G1 Transformers, Micronauts, My Little Pony, releases just to name a few. El Greco products had all Hasbro/Takara toys in the packages. You can’t find a El Greco package with Hasbro and Mattel toys in the same box. Hasbro and Mattel were/are bitter rivals so both of the company’s toys in an package together would be a big red flag of a bootleg. A K.O. company does not put their logo on the package on a product that is blatantly not their own design and keep doing it successfully. It would basically be telling the license holder where to look in order to collect their lawsuit.
As an example, here is what is believed to be a unlicensed K.O. Transformer called Alpha Base Robot. He is the same mold as Transformers G1 Overlord except he has the head and shoulders from G1 Transformers Star Saber. It is vintage and was put out by Academy Toys. This is virtually the only thing they are known to have released. So if the company did keep making toys they changed their name with each release to stay under Hasbo and Takara’s radar. Although a bootleg, it is actually a very nice quality item. http://www.collectio…lpha_base_robot
That is really a great ZZoids packaging you have on your site. I think it shows a few things. The Visionaries line was also by Hasbro. So everything within the ZZoids package is indeed from Hasbro and released by El Greco. It also shows how Habsro let El Greco do their own marketing with Hasbro product. The fact that the accessories are not the exact scale as those released with the Laser Beasts hints that El Greco had the real computer files to make the molds rather than just the molds. We know this because they were actually able to scale the file so the accessory would fit better in the Zzoids hand. Picture this, they opened the Laser Beast file, grabbed the accessory from it and made it for the Zzoid figures. El Greco was just that close to making the Tepato Maxoi Laser Beasts.
LASER BEASTS BY TAKARA FROM JAPAN
We have already established the relationship with Habsro and El Greco through Transformers and My Little Pony showing that El Greco was a legit toy manufacturer. So the ZZbots may be the proof that El Greco had the Battle Beasts molds. Now it’s not like Tepato Maxoi were made by a different company in Greece, and at the same time El Greco only made some out of scale Lasers from their Battle Beast molds. It was El Greco making Tepato Maxoi Exogini all along they just forgot their own logo on the box for one reason or another. Maybe it was on the retail display and that was good enough. They must have gotten the Exogini license from GIG. They had dealt with them years earlier to acquire Takara’s Micronauts molds.
The ZZbots packaging and product also helps confirm that El Greco didn’t have fancy printing technology. They didn’t print the fancy holograms from the Visionaries line, they just used gold chrome stickers. So it seems quite likely El Greco just did not have the technology to print the heat sensitive rub signs for the Tepato Maxoi Battle Beasts. So they printed the small decal sheet and let the customer decide what faction the Battle Beast would belong to. A similar example with a different rub symbol can be seen with the international G1 Transformers Mini Bots released in Brazil which did not have the heat sensitive rubs signs either. They had these printed decals with simple images of Optimus or Malignus factions.
Here is a rare example on ebay right now showing the Optimus faction sticker on the roof. http://www.ebay.com/…yIAAOSw~gRVkGKE
Here is also another one with the Malignus sticker shown in the third picture. http://www.ebay.com/…FIAAOSwMmBVsyMa
Still trying to address the absence of the El Greco logo on the Tepato Maxoi Battle Beast boxes. I don’t know what it was like using a computer in Greece in the 1980’s but I imagine it would have been pretty frustrating. Were the graphic programs they used for the packaging even in Greek? The ZZbots packaging shows one of El Greco’s own toy lines and the box art looks very basic. Based on the Transformers and My Little Pony El Greco releases it seems they were able to open the files they got from Hasbro and printed them after making very few changes. Possibly they were not the best at altering the files they got and even worse at making their own. It could be as simple as the computer went down with all logos and they wanted to make the deadlines they had set out so they released the Tepato Maxoi without the logo. The project does appear to have been rushed becuase of the inclusion of the figure pamphlet being in the wrong language. The pamphlet was maybe printed in a rush as just an image file and they totally forgot that it had text on it that had to be altered. Maybe the artist put the wrong language in thinking it was Greek.
So why were there mistakes with the arms on the figure pamphlet? How about the artist that designed the figure chart originally had a monotone prototype set of figures in black that had arms still on the trees. The artist put them on wrong and proceeded to draw them the same way, and that’s how it appeared on the pamphlet. The pamphlet made its way to print and no nobody noticed for years possibly. It really could have been anything. I don’t think anyone thought the packaging would ever be kept, and I also don’t think they thought we would be talking about it basically 30 years later. Even still maybe the arm variation was intentional. International My Little Pony’s and Transformers have all sorts of crazy variations. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it was actually a decision or an error.
-The G1 Transformers Minibots made in Mexico by IGA for example. They released series 2 with the wrong molds. They used series 1 molds with the series 2 color schemes, rather than series 2 molds with the series 2 color schemes.
TRANSFORMERS G1 WINDCHARGER BY ESTRELA
-Red Foot G1 Optimus Prime. It is basically a paint application error that still got released. http://www.tf-1.com/…t_template.html
-Transformers G1 Megatron. The Canadian version named Megatron as an Autobot on the tech spec card on the back of the packaging. Although he is the Leader of the Decepticons. http://tfsource.com/…1-transformers/
-MB G1 Transformer Sideswipe was released that actually has a Yellow Sunstreaker in the box. This is a completely different figure that is depicted on the box and is a completely different color.
-One of the Peru Variants of the My Little Pony called Bowtie was made as a unicorn, although no other Bowtie figures are supposed to be. Lots of other similar cases as this one, like releases with wings where they should have had none. Similarly, Blossom was produced as a pegasus instead of her usual pony form.
-“Piggy Pose” My Little Pony’s from Spain by MB and Brekar. They were thought to be Fakies becasue of the rare mold that was used, until a sealed on card figure was found. mylittlewiki.org/wiki/Piggy_Pose
-This Hasbro toy is a Llama that was from the Jem toy line. However only in Canada they released it as a My Little Pony toy instead. http://www.pranceatr…/ramallama.html
I could list example all day. So in conclusion these errors happen all the time and the toys still go out and get sold. Looking at the bigger picture of Hasbro and El Greco it’s easy to see the missing logo on the Tepato Maxoi box isn’t that different of an error. El Greco although not as organized as Hasbro in North America, or Takara in Japan, was the authentic toy manufacturer in Greece.
It doesn’t make sense to me about the plastic shrinking because of the ‘Production Temperatures” used. The Laser Beast accessories from the ZZoids packaging looks like the same as the chrome pieces that were used in G1 Transformers. Particularly with the Dinobots. They have lots of chrome parts that needed to fit exactly because they would make up huge sections of the robot. Some parts interlock so precisely that there was no room for error. They would fit a chrome part inside a clear plastic part so you could see the “mechanical insides” of the dinobot. They could not be having the chrome pieces changing size while curing.
The give away of how to know about it being the same plastic in the G1 Dinobots and the ZZoids package can be seen in toys where the chrome has worn away revealing the plastic underneath. The chrome seems to have been sprayed on, and sometimes didn’t stick very well so it’s fairly easy to find a spot that didn’t get a full cover. The plastic looks white under the chrome in the ZZoids case and the G1 Dinobots international releases used the same white underneath the chrome. The USA releases of the dinobots used black plastic under the chrome. Some other Diaclone accessories have red or yellow plastic under the chrome. G1 Dinobot collectors know the rare Canadian release of Slag with the red face is a prized item. You can tell an authentic Canadian Slag if it has white plastic under the chrome on the figure and its accessories. So there is no throwing in USA Slag Dinobot accessories with a Canadian Slag Dinobot. The plastic under the chrome can also always be seen where a missile accessory had originally connected to the spru.
The Battle Beasts were definitely made with computer files. Imagine creating a prototype Battle Beast to scale by hand, it would just not be to par with the originals. There would be no way to get rid of the tool marks used with sculpting, and you just can’t get the details. Look at the figure Grencats whiskers for example. The way the makers were able to be so detailed is by scaling the figure down after designing it in a 3D computer program. Computer Aided Designs (CAD) had been around since the early 70’s. I remember using a Mac computer in 1991, it was pretty sweet for the time. It had this awesome 3D design software that was quite impressive. Check out a Takara Diaclone Driver from the early 80’s they are 1 inch tall and would be impossible for even a jeweler to replicate without computer software.
DIACLONE WARUDER ALIENS
Sharing files would have been a different issue because it wasn’t all that easy to do. It was like the art file you would make would be larger than any disk could hold, so the only way to share was to plug in another hard drive and copy it over that way. You would probably have to format the hard drive because there wasn’t a wide range of compatibility with even other similar computers. It would also take a really long time.
Now imagine the Tepato Maxoi retail display box that has never been found. It would be a printed box with Tepato Maxoi imagery on it. They would be sealed when the retailer got them, and the retailer could sell it only as a sealed box if they wanted. Or they could open it up and sell the individual packages and throw out the retail display box when they were sold out. When opened the box would reveal that it would be full of several of either the plastic 4 figure canisters, 2 figure boxes, or 1 figure bags. The retail display box would have the El Greco logo on it, so it would not be necessary for the individual packages to also have it.
Tepato Maxoi was released under the Exogini toy line, rather than Bestformers/Battle Beasts. The Exogini toy line was made by GIG which was Takara’s go to company in Italy. El Greco, GIG and Takara/Hasbro had such a long history together. Trasformers Auto Robots were Takara/Hasbro toys released by GIG in Italy and El Greco in Greece. Before that El Greco and GIG released Takaras Micronauts toys. They released lots of toys together over the years so releasing Tepato Maxoi as a Exogini was just continuing the relationship. Exogini was already popular so they went with that. The Transformers toys that tied Battle Beasts into the line were not released in Greece or Italy so they just marketed the release different. The must have thought Exgogini had the brand recognition that would sell the product.
Posted 05 May 2016 – 08:21 PM
Wow, I was at a friends place in Vancouver last week and we were talking about this a bit. He has in his collection the full set of original El Greco/Hasbro G1 Transformers Minibots sealed on their cards. I was able to see the full set for real and could inspect their authenticity. For me being a massive Takara collector I have no doubts about the authentic relationship between El Greco and Hasbro.
I’m just going to end this off with a pic of the War Monsters!
-DJ SLICK PANTHER