Ever wonder when you buy a rare Pokemon plush or stuffed toy on eBay or some other online store if it is real or if it is a cheap knockoff? I’m sure all of us have at one time or another. Recently counterfeit, bootleg, fake, or factory rejects have become almost commonplace on auction sites and some shopping sites.
How can one avoid buying a fake?
It can be really hard for people to know which toys are real and which ones are cheap knockoffs. For parents, this can be especially hard because most parents don’t know what an Umbreon or a Pikachu is. Here is a few guidelines to follow that should help you when buying a Pokemon plush toy.
- If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. This is a very good guideline to follow. You will see this on auction sites a lot. A nice looking Umbreon stuffed Pokedoll for $3 with 2 minutes to go on the auction.
Sound too good and just have to have it? Well, you probably just got taken and you don’t even realize it. If the Pokemon center in Japan originally sold them for $10 and the Pokedoll is completely sold out, all the other sellers are selling them for $50+ and you just won it for $3, you should know that something is wrong. More than likely you will receive a cheap knockoff, counterfeit, fake or factory reject plush toy. I have to admit, some of the knockoffs are pretty good these days. Sometimes you cant really tell the difference. But, a lot of times it will have poor stitching, different fabric, or sometimes missing parts.
- Avoid buying items directly from Hong Kong or China.
These two countries are not licensed to sell Japanese Pokemon products. It is true that they are made in China, but they are not allowed to be sold in China. If you read the tag on a Japanese Pokemon plush or stuffed toy, it says “For sale in Japan only”. This is printed on the tag for a reason. Also, it is a known fact that most of the counterfeit or factory rejects originate from these two countries. If you think about it, how does a seller outside of Japan buy these toys for normal price, then sell them for less than they cost by the hundreds. The answer is simple. Some of the factories where they are produced make too many or have some rejects that don’t measure up to standards and are discarded. These are in turn bought for next to nothing and sold on internet sites as legitimate products. I have lived in Asia for 13 years and I have been to these countries several times. Its unbelievable how big of a problem its become. You can go to any of the famous areas in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, or China and see hundreds of fake Pokemon items. They are everywhere. Everyone knows they are knockoffs and most people who live in these countries don’t buy them, but somehow they make their way to the buyer who is unaware of where they came from.
Before the easiest way to tell that the item was a bootleg is that it didn’t have a tag. Most sellers would on purpose avoid showing the tag, as the item did not have one. But now, the sellers have gotten a little smarter and put tags on them. Although, they are not always the correct tag. They figure a tag is better than no tag at all.
- Check the sellers feedback and how many identical items they have for sale
This can be really a really good idea to follow. Although I cant say that this applies to all sellers, its a good idea to check how many identical items the seller is selling, especially if it is a rare Japanese Pokemon plush toy. If the seller has 20 of a rare Pokedoll and selling them for half of the price of other sellers, then you should be suspicious. Also, check the sellers feedback. This doesn’t just mean see how many negative feedback the seller has or what percent are positive. Remember, most people don’t realize when they buy a counterfeit toy and will leave positive feedback. I suggest that you read the negative comments. Look for things like “I think I bought a knockoff”, or “something is not right with the toy”, “its the wrong color”, or anything else that suggests that someone didn’t get the real thing.
Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done to stop the people who are selling the counterfeit Pokemon plush toys. I have tried numerous times to contact Nintendo, trade associations, etc. and nobody seems to be able to do anything. The best way to stop it is to inform everyone. If people don’t buy these items, then it will put these people out of business for good.
Basically the best advice I can give is that use your best judgment. If the item seems to cheap than avoid it. If you do buy it, you run the risk of buying a toy that contains lead (as most of the fake bootleg figures do) or harmful chemicals in the fabric dye which is hazardous to your health. Plus you are supporting sweatshops that force children to work long hours with little pay. You are thinking you are getting a good deal and nobody is getting hurt, but look at the bigger picture and you will see that there is more too it than you getting a cheap price. In the end I believe you will be happier if you buy a nice quality product that will last a long time.