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Most people are unaware that fake Pokemon toys exist. Actually they are alot more common than most people realize. Fake Pokemon plushies (Also called Bootlegs and Counterfeit) come in a couple different varieties. Although we are not experts on this, here are a few tips that we have learned over the last 12 years of selling Pokemon:
1) Fake, bootleg or counterfeit plush: These are never made by a licensed Pokemon company such as Banpresto, Tomy, Pokemon Center, Jakks (USA) and a few others. Most of these plushies are poorly made and don't have the correct features of the Pokemon plush. However, some of these are pretty well made and are difficult and sometimes impossible to tell the difference from the real ones. But there are some tips that will help you distinguish the real ones from the bootlegs (read below).
2) Factory rejects: These are toys that are usually made by the same factories that make the Pokemon plushes for sale in the Pokemon Centers and other stores in Japan. When a plushie is not made correctly (ie: bad stitching, missing parts such as ears, eyes, tails or other parts, small tears in the fabric, no paper tag, or other small defects) it is supposed to be thrown in the trash. However, many of these plushies with defects find their way to Ebay. Whether they are stolen from the trash, sold by employees, or the patterns are stolen/sold to another factory is unclear, but what is known is that 99% of these end up on Ebay. The sellers of these defected plushies are almost 100% of the time from Hong Kong or China. I don't want to say that all of the sellers in Hong Kong or China sell fake plushes, but nearly 100% of the fakes that are sold on Ebay are sold by sellers in Hong Kong or China (or the clever ones who set up shop in cities like New York. TIP: You can tell if a seller is trying to hide where the product is really coming from if you look where the seller is registered not where the seller is shipping from). The sad fact is that most of these plushies usually fall apart soon after you buy them.
Ever wonder why on Ebay there are identical Pokemon plushes, but one is $70 and the other one is $10?
The reason is simple. The cheap one is more than likely a fake. The most common place to find fakes by far is on Ebay. They are everywhere!!!!. Unfortunately Eevee and its evolutions are some of the most counterfeited plushies on Ebay. I see $5 or less for an Umbreon pokedoll all the time. Too good to be true? Yes, it is and you just bought a fake!!!
We report fake plushies to Ebay almost every day and they have never done anything about it. We have been selling on Ebay since 1999 and will continue to sell on Ebay, but it gets less and less every year, as we are very disappointed with Ebay's lack of desire to control bootlegs.
Amazon seems to care more about their customers than Ebay does and there seems to be very few fakes due to their better screening of sellers. However it is difficult to tell on Amazon if a plushie is a bootleg because most of the plushies use a "stock" photo. A stock photo is not an actual image of the product, but rather a generic image that everyone uses, so it does not show the paper tag which is the best indicator of a fake plush.
There is also another way to tell if a plushie is a fake. If it has the old red tag (long shaped tag with pikachu on it). If the word "PokeDoll" does not have a black shadow under the letters, its a bootleg tag.
Some great articles about bootleg Pokemon and how to avoid them:
1) There is a great article in the Huff Post about how to avoid buying a bootleg plush toy. Its a must read for any serious collector.
2) This article was written by a member of the Pkmncollector community. It has many examples and pictures of bootleg Pokemon.
3) Here is another Fake Pokemon Pokedoll article written by a customer of ours.
What is the harm in buying a bootleg Pokemon plushie? They are cute, they are cheap........
Yes, most of them are cute and they are definitely cheap. But what you may not realise is that you are actually causing harm, not only to sellers who can not sell their legitimate Pokemon plushies because the fakes are so cheap, but you are actually hurting everyone. Buying a bootleg Pokemon plushie takes money away from Nintendo who is the company that makes plushies. What this does is cause Nintendo's profit to be lower. Thus making Nintendo raise their prices to offset the loss in revenue. The Pokemon Center has actually raised their prices of Pokedolls several times because of this.
For those of you who want to make sure that you buy a real Pokemon plush, here are some simple tips:
1) Use common sense. If a rare plush is $5 and the seller has hundreds of them, its a good bet that its a bootleg. TIP: Check to see how many the seller has for sale. If it says "More than 10 available" on a rare plushie, then you know they are mass producing bootlegs.
2) Avoid sellers from Hong Kong and China. I know this is rather prejudice against sellers from these two countries, but the fact of the matter is that most of the bootlegs come from these two countries. Its better to be safe than sorry. All the Pokemon plushies are made in the factories in China, so it makes sense that the bootlegs also come from this area.
3) Don't rely on a sellers feedback. Alot of people make this mistake. Just because a seller has good feedback does not mean that they are selling legitimate plushies. The sad fact is that most people will leave positive feedback because they simply aren't aware that they bought a fake plush.
4) Buy from someone that you know or trust. This is always a good idea. Whether it is on Ebay or a private website it doesn't really matter. Just find someone that you trust and stick with them.
Although this article is mostly negative, we want everyone to have a good experience and be able to find some cute Pokemon plushies that can be enjoyed for many years. It really bothers us when we see people getting scammed, especially children. Hopefully this will help those of you who want to buy the real plushies so that the same thing won't happen to you. Whether you buy your plushies from us, or someone else, just remember to do a little checking around before you purchase and you should be able to avoid buying a bootleg one.