Disney Pins: Avoiding Scrappers & Bootleg Pins

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How to Enjoy Colecting Disney Pins without being Taken Advantage

Colecting Disney pins is worldwide phenomena, and the UK is no exception.  But uninformed eBayers are daily being ripped off by the unscrupulous.  Familiarising yourself with some resources and realising that some people don't know the meaning of "Disney Spirit" will help keep Disney pin colecting the enjoyable hobby you wish it to be.

Unauthorised Pins

On the USA eBay, this is a HUGE problem, but is starting to get worse on eBay.co.uk and you are not immune to their attacks.  Dizpins and PinPics sites (great pin trader sites) list over 1900 pins they consider Unauthorised...pins that The Disney Company has not sanctioned.

A few pins are innocent creations by fans who didn't understand copyright laws; but, most pins are created by people seeking to make a quick pound or two off the good name of Disney.

Some pins are obvious rip-offs of Disney characters: Roger Rabbit's wife Jessica Rabbit is routinely shown in various provocative, unauthorised poses.  The same thing has happened to Tinker Bell.  Disney's characters are combined with McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Breast Cancer Awareness among others, and while there are a few McDonalds and Coke pins that are legitimate marriages to Disney, many are unauthorised and education is needed to determine which is which.

True, not ALL unauthorised pins listed are undesireable.  Mouse Club pins are an example of fan pins.  Though unauthorised by Pinpics, I don't consider them bootlegs.  According to MouseTreasures.com, "In 1979, 12 'Disneyana collectors' gathered in Anaheim, California and decided to form a club to share their appreciation of Walt Disney and his legacy.  The club was called 'The Mouse Club.'  The leaders of the group, Ed and Elaine Levin, had operated a Disneyana shop from their home called the 'Nickelodeon' and began publishing a newsletter in 1980.  The Mouse Club had wanted to use Mickey Mouse in their logo, but Disney would not allow it.  As a comical compromise, legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball provided the club with his own rendition of Mickey Mouse with a bag over his head, for use in their logo..."  In subsequent years, they put other items over Mickey's head to not break the copyright laws.

 

Most pins listed as unauthorised on Pinpics are bootlegs.  This is one of the few exceptions to the rule that I make on colecting unauthorised pins.  Mouse Club pins are not bootlegs or scrappers...they are legitimate fan pins...simply not official Disney pins.

Bootlegs

Other unauthorised pins are not so noble in their origin.  Some are direct rip-offs.

At times, an existing pin will be altered in some small way, or a character will be taken and placed on a different background.  A lot of times, one pin design will be remade multiple times in different colour combinations.  A good European example of this are the EuroDisney Rendez-Vous '92 series; there was ONE real pin...the other 39 versions are all bootlegs.  Other times, the pose of the character will be mirrored on the bootleg.  Some of these bootlegs are quite professional in their duplication, but if the pin was not created by The Disney Company and it features actual Disney characters, it is illegal and should be shunned by any true colector.

Scrapper Pins: The Ultimate Scam

Scrapper pin selling isn't new, but it's become so prevalent on eBay that it threatens the legitimate pin colecting.  Tens of thousands of Scrapper pins are sold on eBay each week; in examineing the UK site, the same is sadly seen.

What are Scrappers?  Most of Disney's real pins are made in China.  Scrapper pins are ones purchased from Chinese factories that use old Disney pin molds to create unauthorised copies.  (Think of this as if you were buying illegally-made DVDs from China.)  When the pin is made - I've seen as low as Limited Edition 15 pins - the mold that creates the pin is sometimes not destroyed.  Then, the unethical company takes the mold and produces 1000s of pins not ordered by Disney or authorised by them for sale.  CAST LANYARD PINS ARE ESPECIALLY HOT TARGETS FOR SCRAPPERS, AND HAVE BEEN SHOWING UP EVEN BEFORE DISNEY RELEASES THEM TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC!

Chinese companies offer these pins at cut-rate costs to people wiling to market the pins as being "real" or "genuine" Disney pins.  THEY ARE NOT.  If they are not sanctioned by The Disney Company for production, they are illegal at worst but unethical at best.  I talked with Disney management at the 2007 September Pin Event at Walt Disney World in Florida.  They are concerned and are working to deal with the issue.

If eBay Sellers were to be honest about the pins and say, "These are 'seconds' from a Chinese factory," or "overruns," I would still be angered because it undercuts real Disney pin colecting...but at least they would be honest.  Sadly, Scrapper sellers on eBay hide the source of their Scrapper pins, so they can make a quick sale at the expense of both Disney and Disney pin collectors.  They sell them by the 100s and 1000s...I've even seen 5000-pin lots!  Shame on those who market Scrapper pins!

Why You Should Care About Scrappers on eBay.co.uk...

Why should you care?  Here's one of the problems:  There are some legitimate pins that have so saturated the marketplace that you find them on virtually EVERY Cast Member's lanyard (and if CMs have a certain pin on their lanyard, they are not obligated to trade for another).  Some eBay sellers auction 100, 500 and even 1000 of these pins without showing what pins they are.  The ploy is that you can buy these pins cheaply and then use them for traders within the park.  Sadly, many unsuspecting vacationers buy these pins, only to find it very hard to find a lanyard without one.  When you buy dozens of the exact same pin, you have to ask yourself, "Is this really tradeable?"

Scrapper pins are one step worse...they're not even real Disney-authorised pins!  Disney DID NOT AUTHORISE these to be used as traders....but because they are somewhat identical to the real pins - and because they have a Disney copyright on the back - they end up haveing to be accepted by Cast Members.  When the market is saturated with Scrapper pins, people end up tradeing these second-rate non-Disney authorised pins for legitimate Disney lanyard pins.  Literally tens of thousands of junk pins end up on Cast Member lanyards, ruining the trading possibilities for Guests who have spent good hard-earned pounds to buy real Disney pins to trade. 

So how do you fight the unethical selling of Scrappers on eBay?

We've made a difference...but we can to do more.

Over the past three years - from the 100s of comments and questions received - I know that people are becomeing more savvy about Scrapper pins.  Scrapper sellers have been forced to reduce their prices, and hopefully, that will hurt their bottom line enough that sooner or later they'll have to quit selling these unauthorised Disney pins.  How can you help?

  • BE INFORMED.  Places like Dizpins and PinPics list warnings on their site when a legitimate pin is also being produced as Unauthorised (a Scrapper).  Dizpins' boards has a Counterfeit List with pictures of many of the Scrapper pins.  You'll be amazed at how many eBay auctions sell them!
  • Write to Disney and complain; ask them nicely to prosecute eBay sellers who market counterfeit Disney pins.
  • When you see a seller selling the same pins over and over and over and over - it's quite possibly a Scrapper.  Don't you wonder how people are able to get the very same exact pins to sell?  Look at a Seller's Other Auctions; are they running the same groupings of pins multiple times?  Do they sell "grab bags" and the pictures have lots of Scrapper pin designs?  Do they use the same picture of multiple pins over and over and over again?  Question where they got the pins; if they can't give an acceptable answer, don't patronise them!
  • Not every person selling multiples is a crook.  I purchased a collection of 1970s Disney display racks with over 50 of the same pin.  But I can prove that they came on their original 1970s sale cushions and I have a history I can give people.  But if I couldn't give you a straight answer and the pin was listed as a  Scrapper, I wouldn't expect you to buy even from me!
  • Become an informed collector.  Just because a pin has a picture of your favourite character, don't assume it's from Disney.  Check out the pin tradeing places.  Talk with other traders.  Become educated.  It will pay off for you in the long run.
  • Turn Scrapper sellers into VerO, the copyright infringement organisation (search eBay's HELP section for details... Disney's info can be found under Music and Movies, but you can still report pin sellers).  Click here to be linked to eBay's VerO site for Disney, where you can find a phone number (USA unfortunately), but more importantly an email address where you can report suspected scrapper sellers.

If you follow my auctions, you know that my philosophy is to give as much history about a pin as possible, and if the person wants the pin after that they'll bid on it and the market will dictate how valuable the pin is.  But for a person to mislead, suggesting that what they are selling is a "real" Disney pin when it's not been authorised for production by The Disney Company, is a shame.

Disney pin colecting can be great fun; it's a great way to get to know other Disney enthusiasts, and to keep the memories of your Disney vacation alive throughout the year.  But now, you can trade with a little bit more knowledge...

If you learned something from this article, please click on YES under "Was This Guide Helpful?" below.  And if you're interested in educateing yourself more about Disney pin collecting, I have two other articles at eBay.co.uk and nearly two dozen articles on the USA site for your consideration.

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