How to Spot Bootleg Figures


For most otaku collectors, the biggest problem with purchasing merchandise is spotting the fakes from the officially licensed products. Here are some tips on how to spot the difference.

We’re going to be looking at the Nendoroid Petit series, particularly the Character Vocal Series 01 featuring Hatsune Miku. You’re probably wondering why I have both the real and fake version of the exact same character. No I did not buy a fake figure just for the sake of this post. I just so happened that I was duped first into buying the box and when I did find the officially licensed version, I ended up with the same figure by chance. Luckily, Rin Kagamine is one of my favourite vocaloids. Now, how to spot fakes…?

Box Design- This is a key starting point for all shoppers. If the box is damaged in any way or has colour faded then it is most likely a fake. If you’re unsure, do some research online for pictures of the collection from the manufacturer’s site or go onto the forums and have more experienced collectors verify for you. The packaging in the official box will be slightly more elaborate and with fragile more expensive figures, include extra wrap to protect it from delivery bumps.

Joints- How well does the figure put together? You probably won’t know until you take it home, but a big telltale sign is how easily and sturdily the figure comes together. When I realized that my Rin figure was fake, I ended up using scissors in an attempt to dig a proper hole in the body to fix the joints. It was a hassle putting the darn thing together. The official figure has easily moveable joints and almost never falls off its base.

Paint Finish- Officially licensed figures have nicely done paint jobs that are easy on the eyes and are smooth to the touch. Check out the finer details of the figure and whether or not the manufacturer gets all the gradient shades and whether the pain is firmly set into the right places (as in, did they colour within the lines).

On Rin here, you can see the official figure has a much more healthy and baby pink flush to her facial expression while the pain on the fake figure makes Rin look sickly and a bit grey. Your real figure will have much more expressive facial qualities than the fake.

Real Rin (left) has shades of orange at the tips of her hair while Fake Rin (right)does not. As well, the real Rin has dainty back shoes painted on her feet and an extra ring of white paint at the hem of her dress while the fake Rin has no shoes and a single coloured dress hem.

Price- This one is really important and usually the easiest way to tell if something is fake or real. If your wallet is happy about the purchase and you think you’ve made a bargain for your figure, think again. The bootleg I accidentally bought was only four dollars plus tax while my official Nendoroid Petit was twelve dollars plus tax. Figures are rarely purchased at a bargain price especially if they are relatively popular. A quick check at the manufacturer’s online official website will give you a general idea of the price of your figure.


Tips for Conventions- If you’re really unsure about whether a dealer is selling bootleg figures or legitimate ones you can, A) stand there and look like you’re visually scrutinizing the box for flaws. If the seller is legit and he sees you doubting the product, he will most likely reassure you that he’s selling official merchandise. Dealers selling fake figures are less likely to make a bold claim for selling legitimate stuff if they think you’re already suspicious. Or B), look around the immediate area for someone who is toting around a huge bag of figures, hopefully he or she can offer some insight. C) Talk to the dealer and ask him details about the figure or the series. I’ve found that most dealers who sell officially licensed products know their anime goods well – ask for things like series release date, when the anime itself came out, if there are other similar figure collections, etc.

Tips for Online Purchases- I would advise you not to buy anything online because you can’t see the product immediately but that would be stupid because the truth is a lot of figures are a lot cheaper online than in stores or conventions. Try to avoid website likes eBay or Amazon unless the seller is from Japan or has a healthy history of positive ratings. If you enjoy online shopping wars like I do, make sure you choose your battles wisely and purchase only from places noted for their legit products. A little googling and research on forums will help you determine which sites are thumbs up and which ones are a thumbs down.

I hope you guys found this post useful and I hope you never get duped by bootlegs. It’s not a fun experience at all. Did you ever accidentally buy a fake? Do you have a bootleg purchase story? Let me know in the comments below. As careful as I am about purchases, I’ve still been tricked 2-3 times with occasional small figures when I first started collecting – less so now that I’ve been tro Japan and back a few times. Keep in mind that legitimate Japanese products are almost always flawlessly designed and produced.

Thank you guys very much for dropping in and I will talk to you all soon!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

One thought on “How to Spot Bootleg Figures

  1. I didn’t really start collecting until recently because I didn’t want to accidentally get a fake one. I think one of the surefire ways of avoiding fakes is to order from the original manufacturer (ex. Goodsmile) or places like AmiAmi or Hobby Search, or maybe even Rakuten it’s from an established store. Even with shipping + customs, I feel better that it’s 100% original, so I wouldn’t knock shopping online entirely off the list. Places like AN have “policies” in place to say they’re against selling bootlegs…well, you only need to look as far as some stalls to tell that they aren’t trying hard enough. Also, I think some manufacturers but those holo-stickers (at least for nendoroids). ><"

    Not much on the bootleg front in terms of stories, it's just hard to tell friends that buy me bootleg presents that I don't like bootlegs. x_x

    Thanks for the guide~ :3

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