Do Filipino Bootleg Gundam Supporters display Pinoy Dysfunction?

In a recent brouhaha that may be a microcosm of Filipino culture, some Filipino gunpla hobbyists cried foul over the statement of Katsumi Kawaguchi, head of Bandai’s hobby department. Someone tagged Kawaguchi in a picture featuring a knock-off product on Facebook. So he gave a response where he asked to not be tagged anymore in pictures of knock-off kits and said that he will never recognize a bootleg kit as gunpla, for obvious reasons. What’s notable is that he delivered his message in English, meaning that he wanted to reach out to everyone.

gundammits

For some background, gunpla is short for “gundam plastic,” which is a loose term for the hobby of collecting, assembling and customizing robot kit toys under the immensely popular Gundam metaseries. Many Filipino adults as well as (or perhaps more than) children indulge in this hobby. Holding the rights to making Gundam kits is Japanese toy giant Bandai. Unfortunately, the popularity of gunpla has led to the appearance of knock-off products made mostly by Chinese companies. These knock-offs or bootlegs are much cheaper, costing as little as one third the cost of the original kit.

Obviously, Kawaguchi would be displeased if you would show him something that threatens to take away his salary and give him one reason to leave his current job. But he also made another point in his post. As the X Marks the Gundam Spot blog article says, if consumers keep buying bootlegs instead of the original (or the REAL) product, then the original product will shut down. Those who create gunpla, who deserve to earn money from it, are choked out by consumers who buy unauthorized copies instead. They may choose to quit, and thus, there will be no more new releases to copy. What was the last release, it stops there, even for bootlegs.

The blog makes use of the Philippine music industry as an analogy. Because consumers don’t buy original music anymore and instead either download pirated music or buy the pirated CDs, the artists are not getting paid, so they’ll just quit making music. Many of these artists just go abroad to work instead. The lesson is clear.

Kawaguchi does admit that no one can stop people from buying pirated goods. So he just makes the appeal: if you support the gunpla hobby, support the original goods. Even if one buys bootlegs, as long as they buy the original products as well, there is no problem.

However, many of the pro-bootleg hobbyists reacted adversely. They may say “buying original” is dumb, or is capitulating to imperialist-corporatist imposition, and that the companies are greedy for the money of its consumers. So they would cast bootleggers as not greedy. But this is untrue, and it implies that pro-bootleggers they don’t genuinely love the hobby… and don’t understand what greed really is.

Others raise a good point: if you say stop pirating gunpla, then stop pirating other things such as music and movies. But there’s another problem here: it seems that the pro-bootleg people are only justifying their action. So if we buy pirated movies and music, then let us buy pirated gundams, not original ones. OK, fine, but the same mechanic applies; you might kill the original product by patronizing the fake product.

Perhaps some of these pro-bootleggers may even want Bandai to go out of business, so they’ll be left with cheap bootlegs. They might even reason using the law of supply and demand; the expensive product should disappear and the cheaper product should be left. Unfortunately, they left out one important thing: intellectual property rights.

An example of a bootleg kit
An example of a bootleg kit

This is a country where senators and “journalists” plagiarize. Perhaps we are a culture that has no respect for someone else’s work. If someone creates certain works to sell, some might jeer at him and say, “give it for free instead!” Perhaps it works with our mendicant culture; the Filipinos who want something for nothing. Filipinos who believe they deserve pleasure without work, and want to get this pleasure from hand-outs.

This issue of the pro-bootleg hobbyists also seems to reflect one of the fatal flaws of our society: sense of entitlement.

No one is entitled to their hobby. They should work for their hobby, practice proper financial and time management, and thus give themselves proper satisfaction from it. It is something that deserves some sacrifices.

Although bootlegs are all over the place, people should think: knowing how the bootleg community reacted in the Philippines, is this what best describes our country? Could we stand to be called a country that loves bootlegs? And will this strengthen that view that most of Filipino uses being “poor” as disguise for claiming to deserve things that they don’t really deserve? Even some bootleg users are financially well-off, but they claim to be “poor,” which is why they buy bootlegs. To me, this bootleg issue is the sign of a bigger problem.

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About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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420 Comments on "Do Filipino Bootleg Gundam Supporters display Pinoy Dysfunction?"

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stahlnacht
Guest

Amen

nalia
Guest

it’s all an issue of respect, really. anyone can see that. well, almost anyone apparently.

17Sphynx17
Guest
For me, I am of the understanding and acceptance that you can’t really rid bootleg products. That is for me a given. However, I would expect those that patronize it would be more of those that can’t afford it (meaning not really working for a salary). Because the person in mind is someone who hasn’t worked yet to earn his keep, he does not understand the value of work in general and thus can not value the work of others (the genuine work). When I was of course young and not working, I could not really afford vices like computer… Read more »
Coobie
Guest
As a long-time software pirate,and a long-time navigator of the horribly gray morass that permeates these sorts of arguments, I have to disagree with them. Now I only present my own views and not anybody else’s, but I DO think that bootlegging of physical merchandise, unlike digital merchandise, does in fact hurt the creator since usually they do not have the capability to create those kits themselves and must turn to a third-party company, which happens to be “the big evil corporation” everyone hates. So in this case, it is necessary that you buy from the company in order to… Read more »
pichipichi
Guest
I actually got enticed by this hobby by buying bootlegs at first when I was a kid (bendi days), Then I realized how much the original costs. I got downed and stopped until High School because of that. Then there’s this college, I saw a kit, it was the 1/100 Blue Frame but noticed it wasn’t Bandai(LWD). It was cheap, only 450 pesos at that time. I immediately bought it using my “allowance from nanay”. I was happy, my first 1/100 kit, Blue Frame pa, I got addicted again. This continued until the rise of bootleg MG’s. My first MG… Read more »
auriga
Guest
Gundam and Gunpla enthusiast here. Even if they are cheaper I will never patronize bootlegs for two simple and rational reasons. First, plastic quality is almost always crap. Second – and more importantly – the fit of the parts is largely compromised as most of these kits are mere recasts. And thus, I can’t take these “Filipino Gunpla hobbyists” seriously. I know the fanbase can be very anal, but crying foul because Master Kawaguchi simply called a spade a spade is, well, idiotic. PS: On a somewhat related note, didn’t Andrew E get flak for supposedly selling bootleg Gundam kits?… Read more »
cynicjam
Member
Interesting article. I’m an avid toy collector myself, having an enormous collection ranging from robots to figures of Marvel’s Punisher. Looking back at my only Gunpla figure on my collection after reading this article reminds me of the time I wanted to buy an original MG Shin Musha Gundam a few years ago but I didn’t have the money back then and haven’t bought one until now. On my visit to Divisoria, I saw a bootleg version of the aforementioned toy yet I refused to buy one due to its dubious quality and here I see many people buying bootlegs… Read more »
Raprap86
Guest

People who are a fan of counterfeits only know what benefit themselves. You hear them state reasons such as “practical”, “cheap alternative”, etc. Point taken but they are not thinking of the implications especially in the general business.

Counterfeits are expected, but supporting it is dumb… So dumb not even an infinite number of facepalms can suffice 🙂

Raprap86
Guest

I often times hear “respect” other peoples interest in bootleg. But where EXACTLY is the RESPECT there? Have you bootleggers even asked yourselves or even know what respect means?

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

I understand Katsumi Kawaguchi’s request. After all, tagging him, head of Bandai’s hobby department, with the copyright-infringed toys implies his support with these. He simply wanted to disassociate with these.

bootlegsucks
Guest

mga gago nga bootleggers n yan papapicture pa sa tinderang bisaya sa divisoria muntanga lang e bmili kayo orig mga hampas lupa

Spaceship711
Guest

@ Bootlegsucks Bisaya? Hampas lupa? This article has its points so don’t get me wrong. But the way you discriminate the ethnicity and financial capabilities of bootleg buyers is another story. Even though you are bandai buyer you are not entitled to spit on them. You are showing manileno imperialism dude

pichipichi
Guest

you see, immature comments like this is part of the ugly side of Filipinos.

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

This reminds me of other people buying counterfeit bags like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc – the problem of keeping up with the Joneses, to maintain a perception of high social ranking, even if the bag is just a counterfiet. The same goes with buying counterfeit clothes, and other counterfeit items just to maintain high social standing.

Pronoia
Guest

If possible DONT buy chinese products! The more we patronize cheep pirated chinese products, the more we fuel the chinese economy. And for what? So that china can have more money to buy arms that are already pointing at us? No thanks, I’d rather give my money to the japanese and maintain a good relationship with them. At least the japanese is returning it in the form of investments.

guin
Guest

Antagonizing one country by siding with the other. This is why we’ll never achieve real harmony in the region.

Pronoia
Guest

Yeah keep on turning a blind eye on a country who’s increasingly being aggressive against us. And pray that the only real danger they give is just to intimidate us.

Matanglawin X aka MatX
Guest

There, there, let’s not turn this into a regional spat.

For one, Japan has production facilities in China.

Kayle
Guest

Well, they’re(bandai kits) not that expensive actually. Blame the local resellers and the government for unreasonable taxes and overpricing.

Kayle
Guest

I mean not all local resellers..

domo
Guest

Not about toy collecting but I confess: I have a lot of songs downloaded from the internet. But if I love one of the songs I downloaded so much that I can’t stop listening to it a lot of times, I then buy that song as my support to the artist who made it. Btw I’m currently buying more of Matchbox Twenty’s songs via Itunes.

Aya Fujimiya
Guest
Meijin Kawaguchi has a point Well we cant please everyone since most of the Filipinos dont have enough cash to afford original Gunpla. He just have to understand that not every one can afford this hobby but still want to be in this hobby. Majority of Filipinos still appreciate Bandai Products since bandai have wide variety of kits than Bootlegs, plus they cant join competition with bootlegs so he dont need to worry that much. Remember, back in my childhood days, an HG Bandai kit has the same price as a Bootleg today, wish it could return to that time,… Read more »
B3
Guest
actually pro-bootleggers can buy bandai products, the point is bandai local distributor or store partners give higher percentage for their profit, that is really higher than those hobby shops that also sell bandai products. And words can do nothing, bandai can coordinate with the custom/government to stop importing pirated/bootleg goods, thus we know that money speaks. at first we should stop importing bootlegs in the philippines. its not the price, its the availability of the bootleg product, if there is no available bootleg products in the philippine market, for sure hobbyist will buy the authentic because this is the only… Read more »
17Sphynx17
Guest
So what? If you are for crackdown, then even consumers owning bootleg should be caught in the sense of your tone. You can’t be selective on crackdown because it will be like software piracy. Yes, the pirated software is available, but because of its prevalence, crackdown was imposed and not only dealers were hit, but even consumers who actually bought them are penalized. Rather than going that far, why not just tell bootleg patrons to once in a while think about the real IP holders/designers and buy the original and limit/minimize their purchasing of bootleg products. If demand for bootleg… Read more »
Matanglawin X aka MatX
Guest
I pointed this factoid out several times. You can’t call Bandai having a monopoly over products to which they own the intellectual property rights to. They own the RnD. They own the production processes. They own Gundam. Bootlegs are not brands. That’s why they are called bootlegs. That’s why after the court battle between Bandai and TTH, bootleggers have stopped using “Gundam” and instead used “fighter” on their boxes, a loophole that doesn’t make them any more than bootlegs. Stop “importing” bootlegs? Sure. Like these bootleg even pass customs, and if they do, HOW? Which leads us back to my… Read more »
NYC2MNL
Guest
“its not the price, its the availability of the bootleg product, if there is no available bootleg products in the philippine market, for sure hobbyist will buy the authentic because this is the only brand available – monopoly.” The demands of the consumers drives the functions within the marketplace. Bootleggers choose to support the replicas hence it’s in the market. If you eliminate the demand for it, you will slowly but surely guarantee less bootlegged products. It is hard to compare this to software and music piracy, because in software and music which is mostly distributed online, the bootleggers don’t… Read more »
xdarkx
Guest

“However, many of the pro-bootleg hobbyists reacted adversely. They may say “buying original” is dumb, or is capitulating to imperialist-corporatist imposition, and that the companies are greedy for the money of its consumers.” – How stupid can these people get. Don’t they realize that it is the same “imperialist-corporatist imposition” that they are condemning which is the reason why Gunpla came to be in the first place?

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