Counterfeit Video Game Merchandise

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A guide from my Forum i have joined for people who are in to Collecting Video game stuff the site administrator Nightram who created the guide

What is the goal of this guide?

The goal of this guide is to educate fans and collectors about counterfeit merchandise and how they can protect themselves from being fooled by those selling counterfeit products.
This guide was written with video game character collectors in mind, but a lot of the material will also apply to collectors of anime or other character merchandise, Like Hello Kitty.

What are different types of unofficial merchandise?

Collectors tend to break up unofficial merchandise into four categories:


Copies of existing plushes intended to fool customers into thinking it is the official plush.  These range in quality from very poor replicas to almost exact duplications.  They can often be difficult to differentiate from the real thing, especially if the buyer is not very familiar with the original product. Counterfeits are VERY harmful to the collector's market and lower the value of official products, as the general public often does not know the difference.  These products also take money away from the rightful IP holder (Nintendo, Namco, etc.), as well as the company who created the plush (Banpresto, Sanei, etc.), as they receive NO compensation for counterfeits sold using their characters and designs. 


"Modified" counterfeits: 

 These plushes use the design of an existing plush, but modify it in some way to either make another type of product, or make changes so that a plush resembles a different character.  Examples of this would be using the pattern from an official plush, but making it into a cell phone holder or coin purse, or changing the colors, such as giving Toad green spots on his head instead of red.  These items are not quite as damaging to the collector's market since they are not exact duplications, but can be harmful because they do still closely resemble an official product in many ways.  They also still aim to mislead customers into thinking they are official products, often by using the same hang tag that you would expect to see on a legitimate item.  Like other counterfeits, they are also damaging to the original IP holder and plush designer, as they still get no compensation for these items. 


"Unofficial" plushes (original design):

Unlike modified counterfeits, these "unofficial" plushes do not use an existing pattern stolen from a legitimate plush, but use an original design.  These plushes are not very damaging to the collector's market because they do not usually take value away from an existing plush, and may even be sought after by collectors to fill a gap in the market when no official plush exists of the character.  However, these items generally try to make a profit off of a property that the plush maker is not licensed to produce, so the IP owner does not receive any compensation.  These "unofficial" plushes are different from fan-made plushes in that they are mass produced and are sold to make a significant profit. 


Fan-made plushes: 

Fan-made plushes are just that, plushes made as craft projects by fans of the property.  They vary in quality based on the skill and experience of the plush artist.  Unlike the above categories, these plushes are hand-made and not mass-produced, and are either one-of-a-kind or made in very limited quantities.  Because of this, the IP owner usually does not usually have a problem with the existence of these plushes.  If a fan-plush is sold, it is often to compensate for the time and materials the artist has put into the plush rather than to make a significant profit.  These plushes may be of value to certain plush collectors, especially when filling a gap in the market by creating a character that has not been made into an official plush.


The information on this page mostly applies to the first three categories, as they are the ones that try to deceive customers into thinking that they are official products.  Fan plushes are usually labelled as such, and are generally considered to be a type of fan art.


What’s so bad about counterfeits? 

Financial losses -  None of the profits from the sale of these items go toward the IP owner or the designer of the original plush, causing significant financial damages to the company that created the original product.  Instead profits are often used to fund crime organizations and terrorist groups. 



Health and safety - These products have lower standards of quality, and will often break more easily.  They are more likely to contain unsafe materials like lead-based paints or in the case of plush toys, be stuffed with unsafe materials (flammable or unsafe particles that can be inhaled).  They may also contain pins or other sharp items.  If official items are found to pose any of these risks, they would be recalled, but counterfeit items would not.  [For these reasons, I would suggest NEVER giving a known counterfeit item to a child.]



Working conditions -   The working conditions in the factories where these plushes are made are not subject to the same health and safety regulations that would apply to more reputable companies, and it is not uncommon for these places to rely on child labour and have generally poor/dangerous working conditions. 



Collector value -  Apart from the above moral issues surrounding counterfeit items, this merchandise brings down the collector’s value of the items that are being faked.  A once rare and out-of-production plush suddenly floods eBay, and suddenly no one knows the difference between the real and fake, and demand for the original lowers significantly. 


Where can counterfeit merchandise be found?


eBay – Pretty much a breeding ground for counterfeiters.  As hard as eBay and the companies that produce the original products may try to fight them, the counterfeits only get harder to identify.  See section below for eBay auction warning signs.


Amazon – What, sells counterfeits?!  Well, yes and no.  If it’s coming directly from Amazon themselves, then no, but some of their partners certainly do sell counterfeits.  When you do a search on Amazon, check the “ships from and sold by _____” note that identifies the actual seller.   I would recommend investigating the seller before determining whether or not the product is legitimate.  This also applies to sellers featured in the Amazon Marketplace, where you can find new and used items from various other merchants.


Online stores – A lot of these stores may not even know that they’re carrying counterfeit merchandise, but know what you’re buying when you check out Yahoo! shops or other small online retailers.  You’ll probably be exposed to a good mix of legitimate products as well as counterfeits, so you’ll need to educate yourself to know the difference.


Import shops – Whether online or brick and mortar, import shops can be a plush collector’s best friend.  That is, if you’re sure they only carry authentic merchandise.  Unfortunately, a lot of import shops have also started carrying counterfeits in addition to legitimate products, making it more confusing to know which you’re actually getting.  There are still reliable stores out there that do only sell authentic plushes, though, so learn who they are, and for the rest, do your homework before buying.


Convention dealers’ rooms – These are pretty much the physical incarnation of all of those small online shops mentioned above.  Some conventions are more strict than others when it comes to banning counterfeit merchandise, but in any case, sellers generally seem to get away with it anyway.  The counterfeit plushes found at anime conventions and the like have exploded recently, so again, know which stores to trust, and for everyone else, do your best to know the difference between the fakes and the real thing.

How can I tell if an eBay auction features a counterfeit plush? 

Counterfeit plushes can be identified through a number of warning signs, however, keep in mind that each one is a little different.  Some are very easy to tell from the original, and some are very difficult.  One warning sign does not necessarily indicate that a plush is a counterfeit, and some counterfeit plushes may exhibit none of the warning signs.  When in doubt, one of the best things to do is to consult other plush collectors who may have more experience with identifying counterfeits.  Members of Video Game Memorabilia Museum Forums at ( ) and the UFO Forums are very friendly and will be glad to give you their input!



Tips and warning signs:


- Most of the items are coming from members based in Hong Kong. *


- Item is extremely cheap, and shipping is very high.


- Stock photo is used for item (a common occurrence, but this can also be used to hide defects in counterfeits).


- Item has wrong hang tag.


- Hang tag is turned over or hidden behind plush to hide that it is the wrong tag for that item.


- There is no hang tag on an item being sold as new.


- An item that has been out of print and is expensive/hard to find suddenly floods eBay in large quantities and with low prices.


- Small details on an item seem off, such as being sold as a keychain when that was not its original purpose or having a suction cup attached to it. 


- Certain items are easier to counterfeit than others.  Sometimes part of a set will be counterfeited, and part will not.  If you see that certain parts of a set appear on eBay more than others, this may be because they were easier to fake.


-  The more popular an item is, the more likely someone is going to try to make counterfeits.  When looking for plushes from a popular game series such as Super Mario Bros. or Final Fantasy, it’s best to do your homework before making a bid.

-  If you suspect that an item may be counterfeit, but aren’t sure, check the other items they may have up for auction to see if any are known counterfeits.

- Keep in mind that just because a seller claims that a product is official merchandise, this does not necessarily make it so.  It’s really not too hard to lie on eBay. 



*Note that just because a seller is located in Hong Kong does not automatically mean that they are selling counterfeits.  Some import stores are located there due to low corporate taxes and customs duties. Also, just because the seller is based out of the US or another location does not mean that the item is not counterfeit.  However, most of the counterfeit items found on eBay seem to originate from Hong Kong, so to be safe I would recommend further investigating the item/seller to make sure the item is legitimate.


Has you can see the Fake copy has the orange new super Mario bros Orange tag.Baby luigi & baby Mario were not in the new super Mario Bros game!

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