The History and Mystery of Why Harmony Gold Is Suing Hasbro Over the SDCC GI Joe Transformers Set

Transformers was created in 1984 by Hasbro by importing the Takara toys from the Diaclone and Microchange toy lines and getting Marvel Comics writers to make up a story for the toy about "robots in disguise".

Ronald Reagan had recently ordered the FCC to deregulated the content of the TV industry, allowing kids TV shows that were tied into toy lines to exist. So the Transformers for a hit TV series too. This series with such a success that Hasbro realized they needed MORE TOYS. They were desperate for some toys they could quickly put on the shelves, so they solicited transforming robot toys from other Japanese toy lines and sold them as Transformers. One of those toys was the Valkyrie jet from the Macross anime series, which Hasbro sold in the USA as Jetfire, the Autobot super jet. The problem is that Hasbro ONLY licensed the Valkyrie toy's design for one year, thinking after 1985 they would come up with their own designs, and not pay for licenses any more.

Shortly later the US company Harmony Gold bought the license for the US rights to the entire Macross anime series and its toys, and released it in the US as part of their Robotech series. This included the Valkyrie jet.

Hasbro would continue to use the Jetfire name over the years (Generation 2, Armada, Energon, Cybertron, Classic, etc), but always used a different jet toy for Jetfire, so they wouldn't have any legal issues.

In 2013 Hasbro released a recolored GI joe jet painted like Jetfire as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive toy. Problem is that inside the box was a picture of the original Jetfire/Valkyrie toy on a biography card. Harmony Gold still owns all rights to the Valkyrie jet and all it's likenesses. So they sued Hasbro for profiting off it's licensed intellectual property.

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News Story Comments

Last 10 comments - ( Read All Posts )
Fatherdeth 2013-07-25 @ 9:04 pm

This is just pathetic!!

AnimatedPlastic 2013-07-25 @ 5:34 pm

I dunno, if that is the original G1 artwork that was used on the original toy, which I think it is...can't they use their own artwork? I am confused how using 30 year old artwork for a figure could be grounds for a lawsuit from a company that produces nothing but lawsuits.....I have a feeling this will settle out of court, even if Hasbro could win it. I would agree with MikePrime with the whole just do the Skyfire style figure from the original G1 cartoon with the Jetfire name and just forget about this "Macross / Robotech" version. HG sounds like they use Blackmail and extortion as their source of income from what I have been reading about them. What kind of figures or Toys have they produced since they have had the license for such said line?

Scaleface 2013-07-25 @ 8:21 am

Mattel owns the NAME Skyfire, while Harmony Gold owns the Jetfire toy. Thats why we get Skyfire looking toys named Jetfire.

MikePrime 2013-07-25 @ 2:41 am

If so, then that is unfortunate, but Hasbro should at least abandon the obviously iffy Macross Jetfire and just go with the design of Skyfire from the G1 cartoon.

ExVee 2013-07-25 @ 1:41 am

Mattel own the Skyfire name, or did as of 2003.

MikePrime 2013-07-25 @ 1:00 am

Uh-oh. This why Hasbro should just abandon Jetfire and use Skyfire.

BaCon 2013-07-25 @ 12:58 am

Gosh, I have to wonder if Hasbro didn't do this on purpose. :alert

Scaleface 2013-07-25 @ 12:49 am

Wait, I see why Harmony Gold sued. Look at the tech spec on the SDCC toy box!

That's a Veritech in Battloid mode. They could win this suit!

ExVee 2013-07-24 @ 11:29 pm

You're not very familiar with Harmony Gold's history, are you?

Scaleface 2013-07-24 @ 11:17 pm

Harmony Gold are bullies, so it's not necessarily going to be about the merits of the claim.

I would have to guess that the actual Harmony Gold and Hasbro lawyers are not actually concerned about this. Some fanboy probably wrote a letter to Harmony Gold saying it looked like their Veritech, and they were legally obligated to "vigorously defend" their intellectual property as a matter of course. Once this suit is filed, the judge will find that it doesn't violate their IP and everyone will go home, the lawyers having done their job.

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