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"Backdoor Prototypes": Point/Counterpoint

"Backdoor Prototypes" are common at the moment. You've probably seen them all over Ebay labelled as "lucky draw" items or as "prototypes" and while there are lucky draw items and prototypes in existence, the vast majority of these items are created by factory employees in their lunch breaks and then sold on the free market as rare items. Here are both sides of the argument, first the for argument, then the against and then finally a few facts.

These are genuine prototypes/lucky draw items and are incredibly rare. A lot of them are for upcoming releases or abandoned projects and that only increases their rarity, let's not forget that with such rarity comes the prestige of owning something that only a handful of people own. These are beautiful pieces that are easily the centrepiece of any collection and are worth the hundreds to thousands of dollars that they cost. Each of these items is a piece of Transformers history which should be preserved so who cares how they get out of the factory? Prototypes are usually destroyed after they have served their purpose, so these factory workers are giving something to the fandom which the greedy corporations won't. A lot of people say that it's wrong to own these or that the buyer has been ripped off, but these people are jealous of the buyer because they can't afford or don't have the connections to buy such things. These prototypes are real, the suppliers are trustworthy, so why would the lie? The more prototypes, test shots and lucky draw toys that come from the factories, the more the fandom benefits. Even if these prototypes are being cast by workers in their lunchtimes, these are the same workers who make the "real" prototypes and are using the same materials as the "real" prototypes, so these backdoor prototypes are no less official than any other prototype.

Backdoor prototypes are made by factory employees who steal the materials and mould these toys themselves, therefore they are not prototypes. By buying a backdoor prototype, the buyer is condoning the factory worker ripping off their employer and limiting the chances of more lucky draw toys being made and what is so special about prototypes when anyone can get one made and get it made in the way they want it made? The suppliers of these things all lie about the toy's origins because they don't want to admit that the piece is not genuine, otherwise they wouldn't get large amounts of money for it. These prototypes are nothing more than status symbols for people who want attention and want the fandom to be jealous of them, but really there is nothing to be jealous of as these prototypes are not rare at all.

The Facts:
While prototypes and luck draw items are real, many of the ones that are currently on the free market are not legitimate. Legitimate prototypes are created to test the mould and then are destroyed as they have been made out of waste materials and are worthless to the company. Backdoor prototypes are prototypes that have been made by a factory worker and then sold on the free market purely for profit, usually being sold under the premise of being a prototype or lucky draw piece that is incredibly rare. The sellers of these items will happily lie about the piece's origins in order to protect themselves from prosecution and also to get a higher price for the item. Let's face it, would you buy from a seller who listed an auction as "Transformer hand made in factory by employee" and pay hundreds of dollars for that item? Sometimes the sellers do not know the full truth behind a toy and will simply be repeating what they were told when they bought it. For the most part these pieces do end up in the hands of collectors who want to show them off and have people tell them how cool their new buy is, each collector gets enjoyment in their own way and this is some people's way. Some collectors will not accept that their item is not completely legit, after all ignorance is bliss.

The Bottom Line:
If you see a "prototype" you want to buy, research it first. G1 prototypes are virtually non-existent although a few Pretender prototypes do exist, G2 protos are a lot easier to find. Be warned that some dealers will try and pass off a G2 prototype as a G1, so be wary of buying characters who were in both Generations if you want a G1 version. Luck Draw items will be easy to research because if there was a draw, then there will be information about it somewhere online (bear in mind that draws are advertised well in advance). If you can't find info on the draw then it didn't happen, it really is that simple. Backdoor prototypes are not the real deal despite what some people will say, but they are interesting items and they are rare as they are usually produced as one of a kind. Are they worth hundreds of dollars? That's for you to decide as only you can justify what you pay for something. Don't expect a backdoor item to bring you status though and be prepared for a negative reaction from those who don't approve of them.

In short: If you want one, buy one and pay what you can justify for it, but take it for what it is worth: another piece of plastic that will sit on your shelf.