So I've had a chance to look over two ko identification sites; wheeljackslab on ebay, and highendtfs.
Both are a good introduction, but even taken together it feels like we're missing some key information (specifically, each needs more detail on all the loose identifiers.)
For example; few have mention of the slight color plastic differences on the toys (on weirdwolf, a slightly lighter vs darker plastic), or the change in MIPS (mold injection points) on the stunticons (what is scraped out of the inside of Dragstrips arms), the feel of the movement inside the joints on the dinobots (ratchet vs bump movement, what is tight, what is loose)...
Heck, if we could just eliminate all the new ko Minibots based on manufacturer stamping alone, I'd be thrilled.
This is not to disparage the sites, or to try to start a new one. This is more a plea for those sites to list more information, so that the collector community can be better prepared.
One key thing the sites ask you to consider is how much you trust a 30 year old toy that's gem mint - and after reading them both, I know I sure wouldn't.
I mourn for the new collector starting out today - he's got no chance. And as these Ko's age, it will prove even more interesting. They've been around long enough now that people are putting fake toys into real boxes. Hey, I can use a hair dryer to make new tape look old, too, but I'm not going to. Unfortunately, there are others who will.
Leaving aside what constitutes a ko - whether bootleg, a duplicated G1 product allegedly made for a specific market, or a backdoor reissue - I imagine, in the end, none of it will matter.
Collecting is a waste of time anyways. Eventually, we'll all be dead, and your precious sealed in plastic toy will be so much rotted garbage.
But, as long as you're still alive, and you still insist on collecting this junk - ask yourself if you really care.
I imagine the collector just starting out may not give one hoot if his G1 boxed Grimlock is a real 500 dollar one, or a fake 30 dollar one, he just likes how it makes him feel. If he can get the feel on the cheap, I imagine he will do so, because the one thing collectors like more than getting a toy is bragging to everyone how much (or how little) they paid for it.
After seeing just how much 'reissued' product is out there (legitimate or otherwise), I've simply decided to give up.
I'm not buying any of it, so I don't care.
If you care, then as a collector, you're left with two choices: you can either rationalize how fake product might be real product, or you can find a better way of spotting fakes.
Good luck to you.