How To Avoid Buying Bootleg Pokemon Plushies

By Masa Nakamura (translated)

Its happened to alot of us! You buy a Pokemon plushie and there is something just not right about it.  You bought it on Ebay, so you think you are safe from counterfeit or bootleg plush toys. BUT, you were wrong! In fact, I see more bootleg Pokemon plush and figures than real ones on Ebay. It kills me to even look at Ebay. Right now I can see over 20 bootleg Umbreon plush toys on ebay as I write this. It has become so common to see bootleg plushies on Ebay, that most people don’t even notice or they can’t tell which ones are real and which ones aren’t.  I will give you some helpful tips so that you don’t buy a fake plush and regret it later.

It is not easy to tell which Pokemon plush toys are real and which ones are bootlegs. The manufacturers have gotten very good at reproducing them to look almost perfect.  For parents, this can be especially hard because most parents don’t know what an Umbreon or an Eevee is. This link is from the Pokemon community regarding bootleg Pokemon plush. Its very helpful

Here is a perfect example of a FAKE UMBREON Plush currently on Ebay.

Fake Umbreon
FAKE Umbreon Plush

 

As cute as this plushie is, it is 100% FAKE!!!! This Umbreon was never sold in Japan and was not licensed by Nintendo. It is 100% counterfeit. You will see quite a few of them on Ebay with several unsuspecting bidders who are about to get burned.  An easy way to spot this bootleg is the fact that every seller that is selling it is either from Hong Kong or China. There are no sellers in Japan selling this plush because it was never sold in Japan. Actually it was never sold anywhere. It was completely made at a factory as a bootleg. Another way to tell is that the seller intentionally doesn’t show the tag in the picture (probably because there isn’t even one). Also another hint is that all the sellers selling this Umbreon are using the same 1 or 2 pictures. A dead giveaway that they are selling the same fake product that probably came from the same factory in China or Hong Kong.

Guide To Spotting a Fake Plush Toy

Here is a few guidelines to follow that should help you when buying a Pokemon plush toy.

1. If it seems to be a “steal” of a price, then it probably is too good to be true. This may sound like an old cliche, but it still holds true.  You will see this on auction sites a lot. A beautiful Umbreon Pokedoll for $9.99 buy it now price.

Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, you probably just got taken and you don’t even realize it. But if you think about it, common sense says don’t buy it. If the Pokemon center in Japan originally sold them for $10 (now about $13-14 with the current exchange rate) and the Pokedoll has been sold out for 2 years and all the other sellers in Japan are selling them for $50-$90, then you should know that something is wrong. More than likely you will receive a cheap knockoff, counterfeit, fake or factory reject plush toy. I have to admit, some of the knockoffs are pretty good these days. Sometimes you cant really tell the difference. But, a lot of times it will have poor stitching, different fabric, or even missing parts.

2. NEVER buy items directly from Hong Kong or China. And I mean NEVER. This may sound prejudice, but these two countries are notorious for bootleg Pokemon products. It is true that all Pokemon toys are made in China, but they are not allowed to be sold in China. If you read the tag on all Japanese Pokemon products, it will say on the tag that they are “ONLY SOLD IN JAPAN“. This can be hard to read when its in Japanese, but trust me, its there.  If you really think about it, how does a seller in Hong Kong or China buy these toys for normal price (Pokedolls for example are ONLY sold at the Pokemon Center and there is no way to buy them at wholesale prices. Everyone must pay the same retail price), then pay for shipping from Japan to Hong Kong or China, and then sell them for less than they cost. It doesn’t make sense. There is just no way it can be done. There is only one way this can be done. They are bootlegs!!!! And whats more, they seem to have an endless supply. If a seller has for example “more than 10 available” of the Umbreon Pokedoll, guess what, they are fakes.  This usually occurs when Some of the factories where they are produced make too many or have some rejects that don’t measure up to standards and are discarded. These rejects or extras  are then bought for almost nothing and sold on internet sites as legitimate products. Most of the time there will be poor stitching, no tag (and I dont mean the small white tag that is sewn into the plush toy. There should be another tag (usually red or blue in color) that is attached to the plush by a plastic wire.

You will also notice that one day there is no “Umbreon” pokedolls (for example) on ebay and then all of a sudden there are 20 different listings for Umbreon. All the sellers are in China or Hong Kong. This is because they just got a new fake shipment in.

I have lived in Japan all my life and I have been to both of these countries many times. Its unbelievable how big of a problem its become. You can go to any of the famous “imitation” tourist areas in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, or Taiwan and see thousands and thousands of fake Pokemon items. They are sold everywhere and nobody says anything. Everyone knows they are bootlegs and most people who live in these countries don’t buy them, but somehow they make their way to the buyer who is unaware of where they came from. I have many good friends from both of these countries and they say the exact same thing. Bootlegging has become so common that its not even looked down upon.

3. Check how many identical items they have for sale This can be really a really good idea to follow. Although I cant say that this applies to all sellers, its a good idea to check how many identical items the seller is selling, especially if it is a rare Japanese Pokemon plush toy. If the seller has 10 or 20 of a very rare Pokedoll and selling them for half of the price of the Japanese sellers, then you should be suspicious.

4. Check the sellers feedback, but DON’T RELY ON IT

Check the sellers feedback, but don’t look at how many positives they have or what percentage of positive feedback that they have. Normally it would be true that sellers with 5,000 positive comments and a 99% positive feedback rating are legitimate. THIS IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE THAT PEOPLE MAKE!!!! Instead, read their negative or neutral comments. If you see comments like “The plush didn’t have a tag”, or “The stitching was bad”, “The color was different”, “There was something not right with the plush”, “I think I got a bootleg”, or anything else that suggests that the person is not legitimate,  then DO NOT BUY FROM THIS PERSON. You will almost positively get a bootleg. The biggest problem with the feedback on Ebay is that when most people buy a counterfeit plush, they don’t even know it. They then give the seller a positive feedback. So, the seller gets thousands of positive comments, although laughing the whole time that he is ripping people off. Also, be aware that some sellers manipulate people into giving them good feedback. I have heard story after story about sellers in Hong Kong and China who will give a refund if the buyer complains, BUT only after the person changes the feedback to positive. So, many feedbacks that would be negative get recorded as positive.

5. Make sure the item you want to buy shows the tag in the picture and not just a generic “stock” picture.

Several years ago, the easiest way to tell that the item was a bootleg is that it didn’t have a tag. The pokedolls are the most commonly counterfeited plush toys.  They now come with a blue star shaped tag that has a matching picture of the character on the tag (ex. Snivy has a picture of Snivy on the tag). Most sellers who sell counterfeit items do not show the tag in the picture (as most of the bootlegs don’t even have a tag). But now, the sellers have gotten a little smarter and put tags on them. Although, they are not always the correct tag. They figure a tag is better than no tag at all.

Counterfeiters will use whats called a “stock” photo which means they took the picture off the pokemon website, or some other place. Stock photos usually don’t show the tag. they just show a picture of the plush Pokemon toy. This is an easy way for the counterfeiter to show the product without showing the actual “real” picture of the item.

6. Stick to sellers that you know if possible

If you have bought from a seller before and you have had a good experience with them, then stick with them. Its better than taking a chance on a seller that you don’t know. If you do have to buy from a seller than you don’t know, I highly recommend that you buy from a Japanese seller. I’m not just saying this because I am Japanese, but because Pokemon is a Japanese copyrighted product. There are no fake Pokemon toys sold in Japan. You are almost 100% sure to get an authentic product when buying from a Japanese seller.

7. Use common sense

The best advice I can give is that use your best judgment. If the item seems too cheap to be real, than avoid it. If you do buy it, you run the risk of buying a toy that contains lead (as most of the fake bootleg figures do) or harmful chemicals in the fabric dye which is hazardous to your health. Plus you are supporting sweatshops that force children to work long hours with little pay. You may think that you are getting a good deal and nobody is getting hurt, but look at the bigger picture and you will see that there is more too it than you getting a cheap price. In the end you will be happier if you buy a nice, authentic, quality product that will last a long, long time instead of falling apart soon after you buy it.

Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done to stop the people who are selling the counterfeit Pokemon plush toys. I have tried numerous times to contact Ebay, Nintendo, trade associations, etc. and nobody seems to be able to do anything. Ebay is the worst as they don’t care what people sell as long as they are making money. The best way to stop bootlegging is to inform everyone you know.  If people don’t buy these items, then it will put these people out of business for good.

8. List of KNOWN BOOTLEGGERS

This is a list of Ebay sellers that you should NEVER buy from under any circumstance. They have had complaints about them, or have sold bootleg products in the past. This list constantly changes as most of the sellers keep changing their usernames to avoid people catching on.

*ectransfer
*enforever
*pm-image
*sweetpigster
*powerpapa168
*iou888iou
*happybid2
*lencandy18
*SeasonJoy
*Sunnymew
*littlemonshop
*Lovelyinnershop
*doublelin2010
*izgo90
*nuncle0072009
*suppersuki
*lovedreamstore
*thanksdick
*kpluscplus

If you have any other known bootleggers to report, please email Pokezine and let them know and they will update the list. Also pass on this article to your friends and post it on Pokemon blogs, sites and chat rooms. Alot of people have no idea that they are buying bootlegs. Lets puts these losers out of business forever.

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38 Replies to “How To Avoid Buying Bootleg Pokemon Plushies”

  1. I bought a Mega Lucario plush for $14 on Amazon from 8n9. I looked at the reviews, and I got paranoid that I bought a bootleg. I haven’t received it, but I’ve already requested a return just to be safe.

    1. Oh No! I just bought a Litten from a stall at Bedok mall It was 28 dollars. It looked real alright, and everything was perfect, plus it was black friday, b-but I cant check it, cause I already wrapped it up to give to my best friend! I am really good with Pokemon (No not really I just love them too much) but now I am scared… AND I AM ONLY TEN WHAT ELSE WOULD I KNOW I hope my best friend is not that mad if it is…. plus it’s her going away present

  2. How can you tell if they are on amazon and fake. My sister and i just bought the whole eeveelution set and the vaporeon was faked but im not sure about the others. I believe they are too. I made a video about the vaporeon and i dont normally care since i got it cheap but i still feel bad about those that are lossing profit from it. Can you give us tips about amazon. That would be really helpful

  3. I don’t think you guys have to worry about buying Pokedolls from the USA and thinking they’re some kind of factory reject. There are Pokémon Centers in Seattle and Washington, as well as a Nintendo World in Manhattan (which I’ve always wanted to go to). So if you buy from a store that says something about being licensed in America, it’s genuine.

  4. Not sure if anyone else said anything about this, but I think it’s worth mentioning that at a lot of anime conventions you will find bootleg Pokemon dolls. I was so excited to shop for Pokedolls in the Dealer’s Room but I was blown away over the fact that quite literally every Pokedoll was a fake. A good way to tell if it’s a fake in this situation would be to look at the details of the doll. If any of the features, such as the tail, is just a piece of fabric cut into the shape of the tail, it’s a good sign it’s a fake. Also if any of the features are made of a felt-ish material it is definitely a low quality fake, lol. I saw an Entei plush and I own the authentic plush from Nintendo World and the differences may not seem like much over a picture on ebay, but in person it’s astounding. Just had to throe my 2 cents in.

  5. Um… I’m looking for someone who sells an Umbreon plush. 🙁 I don’t care if it’s a fake, just as long as it should be in good condition and very cheap… Know anyone, anybody?

  6. I Bought three Pokemon Plushies from an Ebayer Called 2010mary6668, She’s from hong Kong and they were quite cheap, Im worried i may have just bought bootlegs?

    1. Um, if there’s little or no difference between non licensed and licensed plushies.
      I’d rather buy an unlicensed for a fraction of the price. They’re plushies, not phones or tvs or cameras or any other thing you probably wouldn’t want a knock off of.

      The recording industry and others are learning the hard way.
      So should Nintendo. provide a good service/product for a reasonable price or people will go elsewhere or *gasp* pirate.

    1. There is no penalties. Its just that the quality might not be as good or it just isnt a real one. But dont worry, everyone has bought one without knowing at one point or another.

    1. If you’re in the United States, then Nintendo World in New York City has lots of Pokemon plushies and merchandise. They even have Pokedolls, and even though they may not be the Japanese versions, they are still official licensed Nintendo products. Plus, the Pokedolls are only around ten dollars each, which is totally awesome!

  7. Is us-trust a fake seller. or a seller from new york could get it from the nintendo store correct? i was unaware that bootleg pokemon was such a thing. and i feel like i just got three fake ones 🙁 if i showed pics would you be able to identify?

  8. I’ve bought MANY dolls from ectransfer, enforever, and izgo90 and everything I’ve bought from them has been perfectly fine. Im pretty sure you dont know what you’re talking about……i bought a mew plush from ectransfer recently. It had the authentic pokemon center tag on it and it was very good quality. <____< i got it for like 5 dollars.

    1. Ah, its you who dont know what you are talking about. You bought it for $5 tells me that you got scammed. First of all they cost over $12 to buy in the stores. They are not sold in Hong Kong where ectransfer, enforever, and izgo90 are located, so they would have to buy them in Japan and have them sent back to Hong Kong to sell which would make their cost more than $12. Plus that plush sold out years ago and sells for alot more. But yet those sellers seem to have an endless supply of them, hence they are making them themselves. There is no possible way that they would be able to sell them for $5 which is less than half of the normal selling price in the stores unless they were fakes. Those 3 sellers are the most famous sellers of fake plushes on ebay. The authentic pokemon center tag was probably the old style long narrow red tag which is very easily faked. Ive seen that mew on ebay. Its 100% fake. Ive been selling pokemon for 12 years and Ive seen alot of fakes. I buy them myself in Japan and trust me those sellers are selling fakes. They may be pretty good fakes, but they are 100% fake.

  9. Another way to check is to look for something off about the image they post up. Odds are the image is of their actual plush, rather than the real thing. I stopped myself from buying a Parichisu listed as a Pokemon Center plush by looking at how the cheeks were sewn. I compared the picture to that of the actual Pokemon Center plush, and found that the cheeks looked more crudely sewn on than the real counterpart. While this can’t always be relied on, it’s still something worth checking.

  10. As a seller myself of Pokemon items which are all 100 % genuine & fully tagged & imported from Japan it really annoys me how many people sell fakes and it’s hard competing against their prices . I have linked this website on my “about me” page in hope it helps people make the right choices. Well done on this page.. keep up the good work, Would be good to highlight the Legit sellers too maybe? Also have saw the clips on spotting the fake plushies on You tube also. Excellent work .

  11. thanks for the tips! i went on ebay, and i found a beautiful espeon pokedoll…………… only it was by one of those bootleg sellers! i posted negative feedback, urging people not to buy it. i nearly hit the but now button when i saw your article, now im sayin see ya espeon! i also recently bought a legit one from nintendo, thanks to you! THANKS AGAIN!

  12. I looked at the list of buyers not to buy from and I just recently bought four pokemon plushies from 4 of them. What do I do? Please email me!

  13. Is pokedollpurchases(a regular seller on eBay and just recently bought from) is he a person with bootleg pokemon plushes? It shows the tag and it says the product is in Seattle, WA and the tag matches the character and says Pokemon Center. Also says “The Pokemon Company” then under it says “International” though in Washington state. Is this a bootleg seller?

    1. Im not really sure, but I think that they are ok. I checked and they are USA plushes which Im not really familiar with since I live in Japan and they dont sell USA plushes here in Japan.

    2. I believe all pokemon from new york, connecticut, california, florida and seattle are real. Dont worry about him being fake hes fine.

  14. I used to think the same thing. Why not have cool plush for a fracture of the price? Well some of us enjoy the collecting of the plush; its a hobby and its disrespect to my hobby to sell me fake.

    ALSO… They are most likely stolen defects from the factories.
    ALSO… If you ever have had a bootleg and a real one. THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT. Pokemon Dolls and such are made of better material and have complex stitching.

  15. Thanks for the tip, but I don’t see why anyone would regret buying a Pokemon plush just because it wasn’t made and overcharged by NINTENDO.

    I mean, if it’s a Pokemon that you like, and it’s cute, it’s fine, right? Why does it have to be Nintendo for you to appreciate someone putting hard work into making it? It’s really cute, and it means just the same.

    As long as it is made well, and is cute, and is the Pokemon you like, why complain? That’s really silly to get so upset over ‘bootleg’ Pokemon plushies.

    1. You are entitled to your opinion, but people who are selling them are hurting people that you don’t realize. The sellers and toy stores who sell pokemon plushies get hurt because people dont buy their plush toys because the fake ones are cheaper. Ebay sellers who sell legitimate plushies are getting hurt because the fake ones are cheaper. Besides, most of the time, they are not well made. Half the time they are missing ears, tags, bad stitching, and usually fall apart soon after buying them. Also, the people who are making them are mostly children working 12-15 hour days in Chinese sweat shops. I would say they put their hard work into it. They are forced to work for less than $1 per day and most of them are children. If you want to buy them, go ahead. Nobody is telling you that you cant buy them.but just realize that there is more that goes on than you thinking its cute. I have no problem with someone making their own plush and selling it. In fact, those are sometimes cuter than the real ones. I just have a problem with the Chinese producing thousands of fake ones. Its the same as pirating movies and video games. Not to mention the fact its illegal and in violation of copyright laws.

    2. I couldn’t disagree more that it’s “okay”. No one puts hard work into it, they are churned out in the hundreds using cheap materials and they often fall apart. The people who make them are being payed measly cents for their work, and they are sold in China/Hong Kong for a few dollars each, but when imported to the US or sold to the US, they are marked up by at least $15. The people who are “collectors” spend money to get them as the real thing, only to find out they are worthless. It’s wrong to have someone pay a large amount of money for a plush because that’s how much it’s worth authentic, and trick them. It’s almost as bad as fake clothes- something worth less then $5 is sold for $150 to people wanting long-lasting clothes that fit. The materials are cheap, they fit differently, and they fall apart. Would Americans see it as okay for someone to make fake baseball cards in their basement and sell them off for hundreds of dollars. Or copying a painting yourself and selling it for thousands of dollars. It’s FRAUD. If you actually go to Hong Kong and buy these for $2 each, okay, and are aware that they are imitations, but buying them online at $20 each? If you decide to sell your plush later, and you sell one of the Hong Kong bootlegs that is an exact exact copy, the person who buys it is ripped off. Not all of them are easy to spot- many are knock-offs- wrong color, wrong shape, but the replicas are so so exact that even the tag and the copyright are copied and they are being sold SAYING they were made by Nintendo or Banpresto when they were not!

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