Why do I say no to bootlegs?
Forget the legal stuff. Forget that when one buys bootlegs, one is actually violating several copyright laws, infringing IP rights, and not to mention, promoting piracy.
Let's stick to the juicy, technical stuff.
For one, the quality of the plastic is SUBSTANDARD, regardless of the argument that some of them look close to the original. I for one have touted I can make a bootleg look good, but that's not because of the bootleg, it's because I have skills. Anyone with skills can make a bootleg look good. We often hear people complain about original kits being flawed, like I have. Guess what, those flaws are magnified n-fold with bootlegs.
|No, they're not identical twins...|
And, if I had made that bootleg look good, then what? It's still a bootleg. People will still commend the skill in working on that kit, NOT the kit. It will look good outside, but it's still a bootleg inside.
Practice? Sure. One can practice on bootlegs. Then what? There's no difference in mangling a bootleg and mangling an original, because one is still merely mangling it, at least, that is true in my case.
Okay. Sure. Mangling a bootleg is practical. Then what? What benefit would I get, except that when I mangle a bootleg, it's still a bootleg? It's still a piece of crap. I often complain about an original having flaws, but, guess what, those flaws are mere challenges to people who see them as such. When one has skills, one can actually practice on original kits without fear. When one accidentally mangles a piece, one's skill should be enough to fix it, if not, transform it into something new, something unique. Some would even use bootlegs for spare parts, either to replace broken or lost parts from original kits, or for kit-bashing. But that, to me, is tantamount to replacing parts of a Ferrari with substandard aftermarket parts.
When I said before, "If one is afraid to cut plastic with a knife, one will never grow as a modeler," I was talking about original kits. Since people buy bootlegs because they're cheap and justify mangling them, the above does not apply.
The price you say? It's economical to mangle a bootleg. Because they're cheap. We'll, at the end of the day, that's the only reason why people buy bootlegs. They're CHEAP. They can afford to mangle them cheap plastic, hence why they practice on it. They can buy three bootlegs for the price of one original MG.
If one decides to compete, and the build is good, can one really justify entering a bootleg in a competition? Sure, you can enter it, probably even ask a non-competing "friend" for his box, or buy one, as the case may be, but, there goes one important facet of competition; honesty.
Sure. Maybe a bootleg kit can win because of the skill of the competitor, but, at the end of the day, he's a cheat. A cheap cheat. I'm pretty sure someone has already done this.
Not to mention, that since these bootlegs are made from substandard plastic, they do not go under the same rigorous quality control original kits undergo. The plastic's toxicity level is unknown, and who knows what other unregulated chemicals are added to that plastic for them to economize. It kinda redefines the adage "more bang for your buck."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not an elitist. I don't discriminate against people who buy bootlegs to "practice" on. I don't judge people's kits, but I commend their skills. I even bought a couple of bootleg HGs just to see what the fuss is about, but I'm saying now as I have then, it's a TOTAL WASTE of my hard-earned cash (to which, I could have splurged on famous and tasty Binondo Lamien and dumplings). That's why we at least allow links of (bootleg) works to be posted at the Forums, because I for one appreciate the skills behind it. But the end of the day, it's still a bootleg. If one openly supports bootlegs, it's STILL A BOOTLEG, regardless of his skill.
I champion the use of alternative tools and cheap materials, just so newbie's who live on meager allowances can learn the skills needed for the hobby. I even openly admit to buying second-hand, built kits, some of which have missing parts (which is not an issue, since I can basically build anything from scratch now, if you allow me to boast a bit), and am constantly in the lookout for kits on sale, just so I can get my money's worth. That's more bang for my buck.
But if I can't afford it, if my own budget will suffer, I'd rather wait it out and get what I want later on.
This hobby is a WANT, not a need. Most if not all hobbies are. There's no other reason for one to go into a hobby except that it is a want that needs to be satisfied, if you can appreciate the irony in that. I'm not saying you can't go into this hobby if you can't afford it, but even bootlegs cost money. The hobby itself costs money.
All in all, personally, I won't waste my time and skill working on something that remains worthless inside. Beauty is after all, skin-deep.
I wrote Skin Deep as a result of a discussion with MP admin/co-founder Richard Leo Borromeo Ramos, because he and I share similar views on the matter and how certain people go out of their way to justify why they purchase bootlegs. I have also been very vocal about bootlegs, even before the MAC Forums was born.
Addendum: Somebody tried to comment anonymously that he has won 2nd place in a contest with a bootleg. No DUH! As If I didn't already know that. I'm not rich either. Each peso I spend on these kits are hard-earned though projects I get as a freelancer, and I only get them AFTER my bills have been balanced. This is NOT a cheap hobby.