Part 2: Spot a Bootleg! - or - How to Tell a Genuine

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Part 2: "Spot a Bootleg!" - or - How to Tell a Genuine Anime from a Bootleg/Reproduction or a Fake in eBay?

Now, I will list some aspects that may help us in spotting bootleg items in eBay, or perhaps in other online shops:

  1. Manufacturers/Company name.
    This is a very straightforward and easy way to check whether an item is bootleg. Many bootleg items do not have manufacturers name or even company name. Many are produced by some unknown factories in some mysterious location.

    So if you are unsure whether your anime merchandise is a bootleg, simply email the seller and ask them who the manufacturer is. If they don’t reply, then it is more likely a bootleg. If they give you an answer and you are not familiar with the name given, you can just simply Google it.

    Some examples of reputable anime manufacturers/companies are: Good Smile, GE, Kotobukiya, Bandai, Jun Planning, Square Enix, Banpresto, Cospa, Atelier Sai, Max Factory, Mega House, Clayz and still many others.

    Tips: Be careful if your seller gives you a manufacturer name that sounds like the original manufacturer. For example: Bendi, a bootleg model kit from China. If you don’t pay enough attention, you may think that it is made by Bandai. So just be careful and simply Google it if you are not sure.

    [Suspicious anime manufacturer's name? Google could be your best friend]

  2. Country of Origin and Item locations.
    Beware of sellers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Don’t take me wrong, not all China, Hong Kong and Taiwan sellers sell bootleg items. I’m sure there are genuine sellers from those countries, who sell official anime merchandise. I may be wrong on this, but there are not many of them.

    In my opinion, you definitely face a higher risk of getting bootleg items from sellers located in those countries. I am speaking from my own experience and from real life stories of people that I know.

  3. Photos.
    Yes, you can spot bootlegs from the photos. This is the part that may require a bit of experience. If you don’t have the experience as yet, take heart. Usually, after so many times buying anime items, your eyes should be automatically trained to spot bootleg items.

    [When it comes to bootleg, you better be judging by the cover!]

    Tips: If the anime item looks weird or disproportionate in the photo then it’s probably a bootleg. Rule of thumb: if unsure, ask the seller. If you are still unsure, don’t buy it. If it looks ugly, don’t buy it.

    [Can you spot the uglies from there?]

  4. Price.
    If you find an item that is too cheap, your bootleg warning radar should be up. Most of the time, in Anime world, you get what you pay for. As a note, I am not saying that there is no bargain out there. What I am saying is just be careful, do not let price beclouds your judgment.  If it is too good to be true, perhaps it is.

    One real life example: One of OzAnimart bunch, which I would not mention name (Don’t worry Allan, I am protecting your identity ;) ) was very excited to see a big Gundam flag. It was up for Buy It Now at $8 on eBay. The seller was located in China. Thinking that he saw a bargain, he bought it right away.

    Guess what? Instead of a flag, he received some random bootleg pink girly Nintendo DS cover – not Gundam-related at all! It was a good laughing experience for everyone here in OzAnimart. To make matter worse, the seller then disappeared (or perhaps got kicked by eBay.)

    Tips: Be careful of $0.01 anime merchandise. Many of them are either bootlegs or come with excessive shipping.

  5. Feedback and Sellers Contact Details.
    This is common sense in buying items through eBay. However, I am putting this in anyway. Since I think it is still relevant in spotting bootlegs.

    Negative feedback definitely can reveal whether a seller sells bootleg items. Just see what other buyers say about the seller.

    Also, make sure you deal with sellers that are willing to reveal their whereabouts. This is for refund purpose and for your peace of mind, just in case you need to contact them if you receive a bootleg item.

    Tips: Check not only seller’s location, also check items location. I have seen some bootleg sellers, who drop ship their items from Hong Kong/China.

  6. Return Policy/Guarantee.
    Now, you have done all your due diligence in checking whether your item is bootlegged (manufacturer, sellers origin, price, feedback, etc). You are so sure that your item is not bootleg. You click “buy it now (or bid)”.

    Then you feel the excitement of anticipating your item. To your horror, when the package arrives and you open it, it's still a bootleg!

    This is the scary part of bootleg anime; sometimes if you are unlucky you may encounter items that are copied exactly as the original items. Example: An L Nendoroid figure, from Death Note series. It has the same box, manufacturer’s name, etc. But you know its bootleg by looking at how poorly the figure has been made.  (Check photo)

    This is the importance of dealing with sellers that have proper Return Policy or Guarantee. So anytime you realize your item is bootleg, you can get a refund right away.

    Tips: Ask the sellers what their Return Policy/Guarantee is.

Well, I thank you for your time in reading this guide. My hope is that this guide can help you in making the right decision in purchasing your anime items.

Click here if you want to find out more about me or OzAnimart.

If you found this guide is informative or helpful, Please click the "YES" button below, your vote is appreciated!

Finally, a few thankyous to pass on:
Andrew, King Bowser Koopa. Thanks for the bootleg pics!
Kim. Thanks for lending me your L bootleg figure.
Alan. For taking photos of your Bendi model kits
The rest of OzAnimart crew, who gave me their 2 cents' worth. You guys always rock!

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