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Don't get scammed!
Fake pin sets are being marketed as REAL Disney pin sets, and the UK is not exempt from this scam. The following are some of the most common bootleg pins being marketed on eBay - both in the USA's site and on eBay.co.uk. I will attempt to keep this guide updated, as I see trends change. All pictures are used with permission of PinPics
1. Name Pins
These took a break from eBay for a while, but recently they've been showing back up on eBay in abundance. There are a rare few times when Disney has created pin sets featuring characters shaped like letters (The Disneyland Gothic Framed Set (Pinpics #36742) is one such example). And Disney has released at least three pin series featuring alphabet letters and a character whose name starts with that letter. But eBay is constantly seeing bootlegs.
To my knowledge, there are NO legitimate Disney pin sets spelling out a character's name...but you'll find plenty of them on eBay. Tinker Bell, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Disney, Stitch, Pinocchio and Dumbo are all names that have been bootlegged.
2. The Coca-Cola Bottle Series / Sets
These have also been popping up, recently. Coca-Cola is of course popular and so is Disney. So in hopes of capitalising on their popularity, scammers have created several different Disney/Coca-Cola fake sets. Note that there are quite a few genuine Coca-Cola / Disney pins, but you need to be careful to educate yourself as to which is real and what is fake.
To my understanding, there are NO genuine pin sets created to form Coke bottles. Shown is a set featuring Disney Villains, but there are also fake sets featuring Winnie the Pooh & Friends, Princesses, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, and several sets the simply have a variety of mixed Disney characters...ALL of them are considered bootlegs.
3. McDonalds and Disney Fakes
Like Coca-Cola, McDonald's is a favorite target of bootleggers.
McDonalds pins are a bit trickier, as McDonalds has worked with Disney on movie tie-in promotions for many years. Yet, there are nearly 200 "McDonald's-Disney" pins that are determined to be bootlegs. To determine what is real vs. what is a bootleg, collectors need a source like Pinpics. Although some are fairly crude in their creation, many are quite professional.
4. EuroDisney Rendez Vous 1992
The eBay sales on this fake pin series is finally starting to die down; there is ONE pin in the series that is real...the rest are counterfeits.
A set of these pins - in various colours - hit the eBay scene several years ago and they've remained a "hot item" for scammers or unknowing people to sell. The picture below shows Peter Pan in a series, but there's also fake sets featuring Pooh, Goofy, Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell. I pulled one of the bootlegs off a Cast Member's lanyard during our September trip (okay...I traded with them and then tossed it).
These pins all were bootlegged from a pin that was released at the Grand Opening of EuroDisney (Disneyland Paris) in 1992. The only authenticated Rendez Vous 1992 pin is a dark blue version featuring Mickey Mouse. All other Rendez Vouz 1992 pins have been determined to be unauthorised fakes. (The real one was created by Arthus Bertrand, whose name is on the back of the pin along with the Disney backstamp.)
5. Fantasy License Plate Pins
Fantasy pins border on being bootleg. What makes them Fantasy instead of bootleg is that they contain only a portion of a character's likeness instead of the entire rendering.
Since the Cast Lanyard pins have become so popular, and because some of those pins include series with license plates, I include these Fantasy license plates in the list. While there are more than 130 legitimate license plate Disney pins, there are an additional 30 or so that are not (this one, featuring the Cheshire Cat's smile). As with the McDonald's-Disney pins, the best way to tell if you have a real pin or a fake is to consult a pin source like Pinpics.
6. Breast Cancer Awareness and Other Ribbon Pins
I have a personal distain for people who seek to make money off of sickness. Bootleggers have taken the pink cancer awareness ribbons (as well as ones for AIDS and other illnesses) and bootlegged Disney characters with them.
The most popular of these bootleg pins feature the pink ribbon, but as you can see from the picture below, even the pink ribbons have been bootlegged with other color ribbons. To my knowledge, Disney has NEVER released such a pin and ALL are bootlegs.
7. Jessica Rabbit Bootlegs.
Disgusting. Jessica Rabbit as originally drawn is a sexy-looking character. But bootleggers have taken her character to new lows, with bootlegs that are tasteless at best, pornographic at worst.
Frankly, there are many examples of these pins that I simply cannot show you without breaking eBay.co.uk's Terms of Service. Jessica is shown totally nude in various poses, or in various stages of undress. Real Jessica Rabbit pins are sultry and sexy (she was drawn that way)...but pornographic? (Do you honestly think Disney would risk their "family oriented" status on a pin?)
This stated, Jessica is also bootlegged in non-offensive poses as well. You have to check out places like Pinpics to determine what's real and what's not. Below is a bootleg featuring not only Jessica Rabbit, but Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and Esmeralda from The Hunchback from Notre Dame.
8. Tinker Bell Bootlegs
Like Jessica Rabbit, Tinker Bell is a favorite of bootleggers. There are nearly 200 unauthorised pins featuring Peter Pan's pixie.
And like Jessica, unscrupulous bootleggers have tried to turn Tink into some kind of porn image in some cases. Going to Pinpics and looking under Unauthorized and Tinker Bell will give you a good indication of just how many of these pins there actually are.
Tinker Bell is also featured on one of the biggest money-makers for bootleggers: Fake Disney Cast Member Uniform pins.
9. Cast Member Uniform Pins
The quality of these bootlegs range from totally crude (not fooling anyone) and ones that fool all but the most discerning. Urban legends have even been invented to justify these pins.
Normally, these pins feature the Walt Disney signature "D", Sleeping Beauty Castle and Tinker Bell, along with some title listed at the bottom (such as "Hostess"). In recent months, bootleggers have become reckless with these bootlegs, listing everything from "Concessions" and "Boat Pilot" to "Ride Operator" on these pins.
In this case, I am showing you THE REAL UNIFORM PIN so that you can compare it with the fakes being sold oft times on eBay.co.uk. One of the most telling signs that you have a fake is the direction of the pinback. Many bootlegs have their pinbacks from top to bottom, as the real pin cuts across the pin sideways.
10. Bootlegs of "Holy Grail" Pins, Club 33 and Cast Lanyards
There's no question about the intent if these bootleggers: They want to defraud people of hundreds of pounds by selling them worthless fakes of highly-prized rare Disney pins.
The most famous of these bootlegs is probably the original Donald Duck "Wet Paint" Mystery Release pin. Although you can still see these pins on eBay on occasion, for several months they were being sold for hundreds of pounds until someone smartly listed both the real and the fake pin side-by-side on Pinpics. Here is that picture...there's not much difference except for colour between the valuable real pin (at right) and the counterfeit (at left).
Recently, Club 33 pins have been showing up in abundance. You have to wonder where all these exclusive pins are coming from. It never hurts to ASK. And if someone is selling a bunch of them, you have to be suspect.
Another huge moneymaker for bootleggers and scrappers are Cast Lanyard pins. Many times, these pins are showing up on eBay weeks and sometimes months before Disney EVEN RELEASES THEM IN THE PARKS. They are fakes. Identify the sellers and avoid them like the plague.
What Can You Do About Bootleg Pins?
As always, the best way to keep from getting hurt is to EDUCATE yourself. Look on eBay and you'll see people bidding on these fake pin sets all the time.
You don't have to lose money to bootleggers, scrapper sellers and marketers of Fantasy pins. Google places like Dizpins and PinPics and check out their sites...look up their lists of Counterfeit and Unauthorised pins. If you're not sure about a pin, CHECK BEFORE YOU BUY! Remember, the more money these scammers make, the more fake pins they can produce.
Secondly, just use your brain. While there are some very realistic bootlegs, a lot of them are simply illogical poses. The Disney Company isn't going to put Jessica Rabbit (from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?") in a thong or topless. The same thing goes for Tinker Bell or Ariel, who have been bootlegged without clothes (or very close to). And Disney certainly isn't going to have any of their characters next to a can of beer and Homer Simpson!
I'm limited to the number of pictures I can put in this article, so get on pin trading sites and see for yourself. Do a tad bit of homework and you and you won't be curseing that seller who ripped you off.