In the plastic waifu industry, bootlegs are as plentiful as water bottles in our beautiful blue ocean. That means there’s a lot. With the growing trend of local buy-sell-trade apps, I’ve been mortified to find innocent people buying bootleg anime figures for above retail value. So, grab your favorite waifu, put on some muzak, and let Red give you a few pointers on what to look for when shopping for PVC love.
1. LISTING PHOTOS
If you browse the plethora of figures on apps like Mercari, Depop, and eBay, you’ll be inundated with crappy phone pictures of the merchandise. Although several of these photos are terrible quality, those are the images that hold more promise than listings that only show promotional and commercial photography of your figure. Without definitive proof of the merch existing in another person’s hands, be wary. This rule excludes tiny, pixelated images and photos too blurry to see detail.
2. ITEM DESCRIPTION
After reviewing the photos, you’re going to want to read the item description. Even on certified partner shops like Amiami, Solaris Japan, Tokyo Otaku Mode (etc.), you should read the item description. Know what you’re getting and know that you want it. When shopping for preowned/used merchandise, don’t settle for shitty one-liners. Most preowned figure sellers will at least offer you some background on the figure’s condition and if it’s authentic. Sure, there is always the exceptional liar, but then make sure you compare the description to the photos. If there’s nothing but the promotional images with little to no item description, ask for pictures and ask for more information. If the seller won’t answer you or can’t answer in detail, look elsewhere for your waifu.
3. AUTHENTICITY STICKER & BOX
Not EVERY figure box is going to have a holographic or manufacturer specialty sticker on it. But many of them do. If the figure is coming with their package, take a quick scan for one of those. If the figure you’re purchasing isn’t coming with the box, refer to tips 1 & 2. You’re going to want detailed images, a copyright stamp on the base, and a thorough item description. When in doubt, compare the seller’s photos to authentic photos you can find on myfigurecollection.com or myanimeshelf.com. I wouldn’t compare images to promotional photography – while those are beautiful and relatively close to the authentic figures, those are also Photoshopped to hell. Lookin’ at you, FOTS.
Other Minor Tips:
– Bootleg figures are often manufactured in China. If it’s being sold from a third party in China, then it might be a bootleg – especially if the cost is way lower than an authentic figures retail value. Please don’t confuse the location of where it’s sold with the manufacturing country. Also, China puts out their own authentic figures, so DO YOUR RESEARCH.
– Mercari and Depop price bootlegs high. Usually, bootlegs are priced lower than retail value. But scalpers and scammers here in the US like to buy merch on places like Wish.com in bulk and then jack the price up to well beyond the item’s worth. Just because the price is high, don’t assume it’s real. Check the photos, check the description–and compare, compare, compare.
– Prize figures also have bootlegs. While prize figures tend to have seam lines and shinier plastic – the bootlegs will also lack detail or look “off” in the pose and face.
– When in doubt, don’t buy it. If all your research, image comparisons, and questions for the seller still haven’t made you feel secure, it’s better to pass. If you have to send the listing to multiple people asking if it’s a bootleg, look elsewhere. Bootleg sellers are getting crafty. If your gut doesn’t pass the vibe check, it’s best to listen to it.
I’ve sold several figures on Mercari and eBay – but then again, I follow the rules. The number of bootlegs falling into innocent hands has grown since these apps (specifically apps like Mercari and Depop) have gained popularity. This makes Red uwu sad. My advice for deals on preowned or local merch is to use myfigurecollection.com. Although the bootleg basics apply to sellers in the same manner, you’re amongst seasoned sellers and fans much like yourself, so you’ll have a better chance at the deal you’re looking for with good results.
In the end, there are a million other ways to check for bootlegs, but if you follow these easy tips, you’ll be sniffing out fakes in no time.
Be sure to check out our other How to Buy Waifu posts for your PVC educational needs!